John Harvey Photo

Rock Formations in Horne Lake Caves

As part of our Camping Trip we booked a guided tour of the Riverbend cave, part of the Horne Lake caves.  Most of us had never been seriously caving before (helmet and multi hour flash lights) so this was a real treat.

Rocks named after shapes

Ultimately, every rock formation is named after some other shape it resembles, but some formations in a cave are unique to the local geography and have unique names.   The Riverbend cave has at least three rock formations with names - The Buddha (or Bull), the Wolf and the Wonderbread room.
Buddha and Bull
Buddha/Bull
The Wolf

The Wolf

Wonder Bread

Wonderbread Room

The riverbend cave has many examples of common rock formations found in most Karst Caves in BC.  The first examples are caused by water saturated with calcium carbonate coming out of the rock and depositing on top of existing rock.  The white portions are almost pure calcite, while other minerals, mostly iron, make the orange and red stains.
 

Bacon Strips
Ribbons
(Bacon Strips)
Stalagtites

Flow Stone

Brain in Flow
Brain Rock

The next phenomena we were we shown was Soda Straws.  These are found in most caves and are formed when water collects and slowly drips off a point on the roof.  Soda Straws are probably the most delicate and definitely the fastest growing structures in the caves.  Our guide told us that straws can grow at a rate up to centimeters a century (fast for caves).  Some times Soda straws will plug and then start start to form columns.
 

Straws Forming
Straws coming off roof.
Straws Forming
Blocked Soda Straw

The next formation is Columns.  These are Stalactites (from the the roof) and Stalagmites (from the floor) that have met in the middle.  The Horne Lake cave has a particularly nice formation called the cage which is a long series of columns close together.
 

Columns
Cage from Above
Lighted Cage
Cage with side lighting

The next formations are caused when water starts to pool.  Flow pools are similar caused by pools of water saturating with calcium carbonate and then the calcium carbonate coming out of suspension.  The pools seem to go in one of two routes - either they form geometric patterns of rock or rounded pearls.  Flow pools are built with thin layers of calcite that forms on the surface of pools as they evaporate. As they float, more and more calcite attaches to it in circular patterns. These "cave rafts" continue to float on the surface of the water as long as it is undisturbed until they reach a weight that pulls them under.
 

Pools in Rock
Flow Pools
Pool in Detail
Dry Flow Pool

The other option for water pools is to form pearls.  They are formed in pools of water and I'm guessing that the the pearls start nucleating on existing rock and new rock is uniformly deposited around them.  The important part is that there is dripping water falling into the pool - if the water was too flat you would get flow pools.
 

Brain Rock
Pearls
Brains with Fingers
Pearls in Detail

While I'm sure there are many more types of rock formations (and many unique shapes in caves), we hand only a limited time under ground and all too soon we had to return to the surface.  I look forward to my next trip underground!

There are lots of great online resources about caves.  One I used in preparing this page is:

http://www.rockhounds.com/rockgem/articles/caves.html
 



Pool in Detail
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Straws Forming
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Bacon Strips
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Brain in Flow
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Brain Rock
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Columns
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The Wolf
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Brains with Fingers
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Lighted Cage
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Pools in Rock
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Straws Forming
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Wonder Bread
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Stalagtites
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Buddha and Bull
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From: John Harvey Photo > John Harvey Photo - Camping > Horne Lake Caves Camping Trip > Rock Formations in Horne Lake Caves
From: John Harvey Photo > Horne Lake Caves Camping Trip > Rock Formations in Horne Lake Caves

Thank you for the photos and information. I would love to see all of those things for my self. Terry
Terry Carroll
Thursday, July 19th, 2007 at 13:24:20

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