Did you know that Tennessee has the most Caves of any state in the United States? Checkout this map by Chuck Sutherland:
|Karst is a term used to describe the distinctive surface landscapes of cave country, shaped by dissolution of soluble bedrocks such as limestone, dolomite, or gypsum. The surface character of karst results from both surface dissolution of exposed bedrock and dissolution beneath the surface as caves are formed. Voids forming beneath the surface result in slumping or collapse. Streams sink underground and may not reappear until miles away as springs or birthplaces of rivers. Karst landscapes encompass some 10-15% of the earth’s land mass and millions of people live in or among karst. This page will attempt to convey both the diversity and beauty of the world’s karst.|
Distribution of Karst: USA
Carbonate rocks are found in almost every state, with the exception of Delaware and Rhode Island. Not surprisingly the states with the largest amount of karst contain the most caves, with Tennessee the clear winner with over 8000 caves followed by Missouri with 4000+. In the map on the right one sees lava flows marked as “pseudokarst,” because these landforms may contain features associated with karst such as caves (lava tubes), collapses and pits. However, there are not due to solutional processes and hence the “pseudo” part of the name. In Florida the karst is young and caves are actively forming below the water table; the longest cave systems there are still completely submerged and being explored by cave divers. The U.S. National Park Service has created a nice poster map showing all the park units with caves and karst.
Look at these recent pictures from Cumberland County, TN: