Cave vs. Cavern: What's the Difference?

Key Difference

Cave and cavern are two of the geographical settings that can be differentiated by their openings and formation. It will be pertinent to mention here that all caverns are caves, but not all caves are caverns as caverns are one of the types of the caves. The cave is the underground chamber in a hillside or the cliff which only has one opening and doesn’t have the outreach of the sunlight. Contrary to this, the cavern is the special type of the cave which is way larger than the cave and has multiple openings or chambers in it. The thing which makes caverns distinguishable from the caves is that they are formed in the soluble rock and possess the ability to grow the speleothems.


Comparison Chart

Cave Cavern
Chambers Only one. Multiple.
Relation Not all caves are caverns. All caverns are caves.
Rock Material Various different materials. Soluble Rocks

What is Cave?

The cave is the opening in the earth, most noticeably on the hillside or the cliffs where sunlight can’t get the reach. This opening is usually not much spread area wise and only has single opening or the chamber. The formation of the cave is recognized as the natural process which is a time taking process that it might take hundreds of years in its formation. The formation of the rocks is quite similar to that of the other geographical scenarios as they are also the result of the geographical process like water erosion, atmospheric influence, and chemical processes and most prominently the tectonic forces. Nowadays caves are more than the just natural settings as artificial caves are also there; they add up to the beauty of the specific area. The caves are one of the most eye-catching places for the tourists, the warmth inside it make it even more useful in the colder regions. The process of origin and development of the caves is known as the speleogenesis and the compact study in this regard is termed as the speleology. Caves are classified into two basic categorized based on their origin; one is the primary cave, and the other is the secondary cave. Those caves formed after the host rock solidifies are known as the primary caves, whereas the caves result of consolidation and deposition of the rocks are known as the secondary caves. There are various types of caves; most prominent out of them are the coral caves ice caves, volcanic caves, and tectonic caves.


What is Cavern?

Caverns are recognized as the larger and the deeper type of caves that have multiple openings or chambers. It won’t be wrong to say that a cavern may consist up of several caves joining. Other than the field of geography, the caverns are termed as the large caves or the set of several smaller cases that are joined from one and another through passageways. When we define the caverns from the eyes of geography, there are many other distinguishing factors which set it apart from the concept of typical caves. According to the caverns definition in the field of geography, these are the special type of caves that are formed in soluble rocks and possess the ability to grow the speleothems. The caverns only occur naturally as they are formed under a specific atmospheric condition where the minerals are deposited through the chemical reactions. The caverns are formed due to the dissolution of soluble rocks such as dolomite, limestone, and gypsum. They are the special types of caves are limited to the soluble rocks and have the ability to grow the speleothems. The other thing which marks caverns is that it is not lifted upwards like the caves and is extremely deep towards the surface of the ground.

Cave vs. Cavern

  • The natural underground chamber in the hillside or the cliff is known as the cave. On the other hand, caverns are the type of caves which are formed in soluble rocks and have the ability to grow speleothems.
  • The caves only have one chamber or opening, whereas caverns have multiple openings. Sometimes caverns consist up of small caves which are interconnected to each other through the passageways.
  • All caverns are caves, but not all caves are caverns as the latter is the type of the cave.
  • Caves can be formed of different rock materials that can be suppressed due to the tectonic movement, while caverns are specifically made up of the soluble rocks.

Explanatory Video

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