The largest cave on Earth contains over 300 miles of passageway and some impressive rock formations.
The largest cave on Earth is beleived to be the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky. This cave system is known to contains over 365 miles of mapped passageway. Each year cave explorers are adding a few miles to the mapped statistic. If connections can be made to the nearby Fisher Ridge and the Martin Ridge cave systems then the total mapped system could exceed 500 miles. It would be unwise to definitively say that this is the largest cave in the world because the worldwide identification and exploration of cave systems is far from complete. However, the next largest cave, the Jewel Cave in South Dakota, has only 145 miles of mapped passage suggesting that the record will not be challenged in the near future.
A unique geology accounts for the cave’s complexity. It occurs in an extensive limestone area which is capped with sandstone. Water draining through the permeable limestone into the nearby Green River has dissolved the rock. Because the Green River valley has deepened slowly with many interruptions during the ice ages the underground water has been able to cut progressively lower watercourses. Structure within the limestone has required the water to cut out new watercourses at each level. At the highest level, the caves are dry and unlikely to be eroded. The result is a complex network of multi-level passages and chambers.
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