Glossary of Speleological and Caving Terms
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Copyright © Australian Speleological Federation Inc. 2002

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LABYRINTH Syn, Maze cave, Network.
Cave - Kinds of. Ref WM
LADDER In caving, a flexible lightweight ladder of galvanised or stainless steel wires and aluminium alloy rungs.
Climbing and SRT. Ref JJ
LAKE In caving, a body of standing water (no matter how small) in a cave.
Cave - Parts of. Ref JJ
LAPIES A synonym for Karren, used mainly in the special case of Marine Lapies which form on limestone surfaces exposed to the sea, or to sea spray. See also Phytokarst.
Karst - Minor Forms of. Ref KG
LAPILLI A general term for pebble to granule sized volcanic ejecta. Angular frothy fragments are called scoria. Finer material is ash and coarser fragments are called bombs or blocks.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LARVA (Plu larvae). The young of insects, eg grub, caterpillar, maggot that metamorphose into adult forms eg beetle, moth, fly. Larvae are active, self sustaining and independent life forms, and many inhabit caves.
Fauna. Ref AC
LATERITE An iron rich deep weathering profile. Lateritised means containing laterite.
Geology. Ref KG
LAVA Molten rock that is capable of flowing on the surface or in lava tubes. Also volcanic rock solidified from magma. See 'pahoehoe' and 'aa' for specific types.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LAVA CAVE A cave in a lava flow, usually a tube formed by flow of liquid lava through a solidified mass, or by roofing over of an open channel. Small lava caves may form as gas blisters.
Cave - Kinds of. Ref JJ
LAVA DRIBBLES Drips and associated runs of smooth surfaced lava on a vertical or sloping wall in a lava tube. Formed from a molten lining.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LAVA DRIPS Short smooth-surfaced drips of lava on a ceiling or upper wall, formed from a molten lining. Grades to flatter 'lava dribbles' on the walls.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LAVA HANDS Groups of elongated finger or grape-like extrusions formed on a wall or roof where pasty lava has been forced out through a crack or hole in the lining. Matching 'lava stalagmites' may occur on the floor below. See also 'lava turds'.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LAVA STALACTITES Longer and thicker than 'lava drips'. Rare straw-like lava stalactites have been recorded overseas.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LAVA STALAGMITES Mounds or columns of lava built up on a floor. Some may resemble 'lava turds', others are built up of numerous small semi-solid droplets to form agglutinated stalagmites.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LAVA TUBE A cave in lava formed by removal of liquid material from beneath a solid roof.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LAVA TURDS A descriptive term for small lava extrusions. A thick pasty lava has been forced out of a small orifice in the wall lining or floor. Analogies to dog, sheep, cow, etc. have been seen. aka 'Lava hands'. aka (less politely) 'Stoolite' and 'faecicles'
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LAVACICLE Small round-tipped lava stalactites, formed where molten lava has dripped from the roof, or dribbled down the walls of the cave.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LAY The way in which strands of a rope or cable are twisted.
Climbing and SRT. Ref JJ
LEAD A cave passage noticed but as yet unexplored.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
LEAD ACID BATTERY A rechargeable acid battery used as a light source in caving, usually worn on a waist strap and with a lamp fitted to the helmet.
Lighting term. Ref JJ
LEADER In caving, the person directing the activities of a caving party, and with responsibility for the safety of the group.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
LEG A survey leg, the measurement between 2 adjacent survey stations in a cave survey.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ
LEUCOPHOR A colourless water tracer, which fluoresces blue.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ
LEVEE An outward sloping raised area on each side of a lava channel. Analogous to a river levee, it is built up by successive lava layers whenever the channel overflows.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
LEVEL In caves, the height relation of a point in a cave to the entrance or a datum eg sea level.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref WM
LEVEL A group of cave passages developed in the same horizontal plane, especially in caves that are developed on 2 or more planes.
Cave - Parts of. Ref WM
LIFE LINE A safety device additional to the main support in climbing. May be an additional rope, or merely an additional attachment to the main system
Climbing and SRT. Ref MM
LIMESTONE A sedimentary rock consisting mainly of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) derived from the deposition of the calcareous remains of animals. Usually of marine origin but can be of freshwater origin. eg Oolitic, Coralline, Foraminiferous. See Dolomite, Magnesite.
Karst - Kinds of. Ref JJ
LIMESTONE CAVE Limestone is relatively soluble and is the most common rock type in which caves develop.
Cave - Kinds of. Ref MM
LIMESTONE PAVEMENT (1) A bare plane surface of bedded limestone, commonly divided into blocks (clints) by solutionally widened joints (grikes). (2) On the Nullarbor, an area of calcrete built up in an otherwise soil covered area.
Karst - Minor Forms of. Ref WM
LINTEL LINE A line on the ground at a cave entrance directly below the outer edge of the rock above. May or may not coincide with the dripline.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
LIQUID MEDIUM Contains the Stygofauna or aquatic Cavernicoles.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
LITHIFICATION Hardening of sediment to form a rock.
Geology. Ref KG
LITTORAL Shoreline. Between high and low tide marks, Intertidal. cf Benthic. Most sea caves occur in this zone.
Geology. Ref MM
LIVE CAVE A cave containing flowing water or active speleothems. Cf Active cave.
Cave - Kinds of. Ref JJ
LONG SECTION A cave map showing a cross section along the length of a cave or of a single passage or chamber.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ
LOOP See Closed traverse.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref MM
LOOP ERROR The error in easting, northing & vertical that results when a survey, in forming a loop, closes on itself.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref MM
LOTIC Pertaining to the aquatic environment of running water.
Geology. Ref AC

Copyright © Australian Speleological Federation Inc. 2002

The Glossary of Speleological and Caving Terms is the copyright property of the
AUSTRALIAN SPELEOLOGICAL FEDERATION INC. (ASF) and any reproduction of it either in part or in full, should have the approval of the ASF, and such reproduction should be accompanied by a copyright notice similar to this one.

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