Glossary of Karst and Cave Terms
Based on "A Lexicon of Cave and Karst Terminology with Special to Environmental Karst Hydrology" EPA/600/R-02/003, 2002, EPA: Washington, DC., Speleogenesis Glossary includes 2699 cave & karst terms
1. Speleothem, generally of calcite, formed by dripping water and hanging from a cave roof. Stalactites embrace an enormous variety of sizes and shapes. They form where percolation water seeps from a cave ceiling and becomes saturated with respect to calcite due to loss of carbon dioxide into the cave air. Calcite is precipitated round the rim of the water droplet and continued deposition creates a hollow tubular straw stalactite (soda straw). Additional deposition of calcite on the outside of the initial cylinder creates an ordinary tapering stalactite. Almost infinite variation in shape may be influenced by changes in water flow, cave air chemistry, evaporation, temperature or dissolved impurities, and by crystal growth blocking flow paths. They are the most common speleothem. Though the single 7m long stalactite in Ireland's Poll an Ionain is not the world's longest, it is uniquely spectacular against the dark chamber walls . 2. Conical deposit of calcite or aragonite often with a hollow center hanging from the roof of a cave or cavern formed by precipitation of carbonate due to escape of CO2 from hanging water beads and to evaporation of part of the water . 3. A cylindrical or conical deposit of minerals, generally calcite, formed by dripping water, hanging from the roof of a cave, generally having a hollow tube at its center. From Greek word meaning exude drops . Synonyms: (French.) stalactite; (German.) Tropfstein, Stalaktit; (Greek.) stalaktitis; (Italian.) stalattite; (Russian.) stalaktit; (Spanish.) estalactita; (Turkish.) sarkit (Yugoslavian.) mosur, viseci kapnik, stalaktit.