Glossary of Speleological and Caving Terms

Copyright © Australian Speleological Federation Inc. 2002

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FACIES Part of a rock body as differentiated from other parts by appearance or composition, often as a result of changing depositional environments.
Geology. Ref EH
FALLING Emergency signal, given by a climber to the belayer, that the climber is falling (and to expect the safety line to become taut).
Climbing and SRT. Ref MM
FALSE FLOOR A remnant of a sheet of flowstone deposited on sediments that were later eroded away. A false floor may span between passage walls or merely be projecting ledges along the walls.
Cave - Depositional Features. Ref LW
FAMILY 5th rank in Taxonomic system. Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. Family names end in -aceae for plants, eg Liliaceae (lilies), and -idae for animals, eg Macropodidae (kangaroos).
Biology - Flora & Fauna. Ref MM
FAULT A fracture separating 2 parts of a once continuous rock body with relative movement along the fault plane.
Geology. Ref JJ
FAULT CAVE A cave developed along a fault or fault zone, either by movement of the fault or by preferential solution along it.
Cave - Kinds of. Ref JJ
FAULT PLANE A plane along which movement of a fault has taken place.
Geology. Ref JJ
FENGCONG Chinese term equating to Cone karst.
Karst - Hill Features of. Ref EH
FENGLIN Chinese term for the isolated limestone hills known as Tower karst.
Karst - Hill Features of. Ref EH
FISSURE An open crack in rock or soil.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
FISSURE CAVE A narrow vertical cave passage, often developed along a joint but not necessarily so. Usually due to solution but sometimes to tension.
Cave - Kinds of. Ref JJ
FLAP A section of wall lining in a lava tube that has broken free and sagged or rolled down away from the wall. Where only a small patch has been pushed off by gas pressure from behind it may be referred to as a 'burst'.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
FLATTENER A passage, often of considerable length which though wide, is so low that one has insufficient room to stand or crawl. Movement along a flattener is only possible in a prone position. cf, Crawlway, Stooping, Walking
Cave - Parts of. Ref JJ
FLINT See Chert.
Geology. Ref MM
FLOCCULANT Suspended sediment.
Hydrology terms. Ref AC
FLOE CALCITE Very thin flakes of calcite floating on the surface of a cave pool, or previously formed in this way.
Cave - Depositional Features. Ref JJ
FLOWSTONE A speleothem. A deposit formed by precipitation from thin films or trickles of mineralised water over floors or walls, usually of calcite. cf Travertine.
Cave - Depositional Features. Ref JJ
FLUORESCEIN A reddish-yellow organic dye C20H12O5 which gives a green fluorescence to water, used in water tracing. Detectable in minute concentrations.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ
FLUOROMETER An instrument for measuring the fluorescence of water. Used in water tracing and dye gauging.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ
FLUVIAL Pertaining to flowing water. Produced by the action of a stream or river. cf Lotic.
Hydrology terms. Ref KG
FOIBE A blind or dead-end shaft.
Cave - Parts of. Ref KG
FOOD CHAIN A series of plants or animals linked together by their food relationships or a specific nutrient and energy pathway. see Food web.
Fauna. Ref AC
FOOD WEB An interlocking system of separate food chains in any (cave) community.
Fauna. Ref AC
FORAMINIFERA A subclass of Sarcodina, unicellular (mostly microscopic & marine) animals that secrete tests of CaCO3. Their remains accumulate to form foraminiferous limestone.
Karst - Kinds of. Ref MM
FORAMINIFEROUS LIMESTONE Composed chiefly of the remains of Foraminifera.
Karst - Kinds of. Ref MM
FOREDUNE A dune ridge built up behind a coastline. Generally higher and more extensive than a beachridge.
Geology. Ref KG
FORESTRY COMPASS A lightweight tripod mounted compass which also functions as a clinometer, and has a telescopic sight. Similar to a theodolite.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ
FORMATION In geology, the fundamental unit in rock stratigraphic classification, consisting of a distinctive mappable body of rock.
Geology. Ref WM
FORMATION An unsatisfactory term in speleology. Use KARST GEOMORPHOLOGY, referring to the creation of a cave. The term FORMATION is generally confused with FORMATIONS, which also should not be used. Formation is a geologic term.
Unsatisfactory term, not recommended. Ref MM
FORMATIONS An unsatisfactory term in speleology. Use DECORATION or SPELEOTHEM. The term FORMATIONS is generally confused with FORMATION, which also should not be used. Note the plural. The term invariably implies 'pretty' decorations especially Stalactites.
Unsatisfactory term, not recommended. Ref MM
FOSSIL The remains or traces of animals or plants preserved in rocks or sediments.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
FOSSIL CHAMBER Ossuary, a place in a cave where there is a large number of fossil bones.
Cave - Parts of. Ref MM
FOUL AIR In a cave or mine, air with greater than 1% carbon dioxide (CO2) which adversely affects respiration and metabolism.
Speleology term. Ref MM
FREE PITCH Where a rope or ladder hangs vertically and free of the walls.
Climbing and SRT. Ref JJ
FREE SURFACE STREAM A cave stream which does not normally fill its passage to the roof.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
FRIEND A mechanical caming device that is wedged into a rock crack and used as an anchor point.
Climbing and SRT. Ref RW
FROSTWORK A speleothem consisting of radiating, acicular (needle like) crystal sprays resembling a catus or thistle plant.
Cave - Depositional Features. Ref MM
FUNGLIN Isolated limestone hill in an alluvial plain. (Chinese term).
Karst - Kinds of. Ref WM
FUNGUS Plu Fungi, organisms that subsist upon dead or living organic matter, of glycogen, fat, mannitol, but not starch. eg mushrooms, moulds, mildews, rusts, smuts.
Flora. Ref MM

Copyright © Australian Speleological Federation Inc. 2002

The Glossary of Speleological and Caving Terms is the copyright property of the
AUSTRALIAN SPELEOLOGICAL FEDERATION INC. (ASF) and any reproduction of it either in part or in full, should have the approval of the ASF, and such reproduction should be accompanied by a copyright notice similar to this one.

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