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

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PAHOEHOE A type of lava in which the surface was relatively fluid and so formed smooth or porridge-like surfaces. Variants include wrinkled or 'ropy' surfaces, like flowing pitch, and surfaces with small rounded knobs.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
PALAEOKARST A 'fossil' karst, being a remnant of a previous period of Karstification. Characterised by old deposits, as lithified cave fills or breccias
Karst - Kinds of. Ref RW
PALAEOSOL Ancient soils.
Geology. Ref KG
PALEO SOILS See Palaeosol.
Geology. Ref MM
PARASITE Deriving food from a host, to which it is attached, and harming the host. In caves the Acarina (ticks & mites) are parasites on other invertebrates or vertebrates. (Note that some mites are free living in caves. cf Endophyte Epiphyte Holozoic Saprophytic
Fauna. Ref AC
PARIETAL ASSOCIATION Animals found on walls around cave entrances.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
PASSAGE A cavity in a cave that is longer than it is wide or high. A passage normally leads to other places in a cave, and is not a dead end.
Cave - Parts of. Ref JJ
PENDANT See Rock pendant.
Cave - Erosional & Solutional Features. Ref JJ
PENDULITE A kind of stalactite which has been partly submerged with that part covered with Dog tooth spar, giving the appearance of a drumstick.
Cave - Depositional Features. Ref JJ
PERCOLATION WATER Water moving mainly downwards through pores, cracks & fissures in the unsaturated Epikarstic zone and Vadose zone. Also relates to water draining underground from a Swallet or Streamsink.
Hydrology terms. Ref JJ
PERMEABILITY The property of rock or soil permitting water to pass through it. Primary permeability depends on pores between the grains of material. Secondary Permeability depends on solutional widening of joints & bedding planes & on other solution cavities.
Hydrology terms. Ref JJ
PHREAS Syn. Phreatic Zone.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
PHREATIC WATER Water below the level at which all voids in the rock are completely filled with water.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
PHREATIC ZONE The zone that is below the Water table (except at times of drought) where voids or tubes in the rock are completely saturated with water.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
PHREATOBIA An animal association found in water separating grains of sand or fine gravel.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
PHYLOGENETIC Pertaining to an evolutionary development of a species. Usually this would involve a long history of development, but it could conceivably be relatively short.
Fauna. Ref AC
PHYLUM Second rank in Taxonomic system. Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. In Plant Classification Phylum can be known as a Division.
Biology - Flora & Fauna. Ref MM
PHYTOKARST A type of small scale solutional sculpturing or Karren which forms with the assistance of certain algae and other micro-organisms that secrete acid solutions. Commonly occurs as a part of Marine lapies, and also as light oriented features in Cenotes.
Speleology term. Ref KG
PILLAR A bedrock column from roof to floor left by removal of surrounding rock.
Cave - Parts of. Ref JJ
PINNACLE KARST Tropical landscape of near vertical sided spires. Also as Arete Karst.
Karst - Kinds of. Ref WM
PIPE A tubular cavity projecting down from the surface into karst rocks. Often filled with earth etc.
Karst - Depression Features of. Ref JJ
PIT (Looking for a definition)
Cave - Parts of. Ref MM
PITCH A vertical or nearly vertical part of a cave for which a ladder or rope is normally used for ascent or descent.
Cave - Parts of. Ref JJ
PITON A solid or folded metal spike driven into a crack in a rock to form an anchor.
Climbing and SRT. Ref JJ
PLAN A cave map at a reduced scale showing the details projected vertically onto a horizontal plane..
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ
PLUNGE POOL A swirlhole, generally of large size. occurring at the foot of a waterfall or rapid, on the surface or underground.
Speleology term. Ref JJ
POLJE A large closed depression draining underground, with a flat floor across which there may be an intermittent or perennial stream. The polje may be liable to flood and become a lake, and its floor makes a sharp break with parts of surrounding slopes.
Karst - Depression Features of. Ref JJ
POLYGONAL KARST Karst completely pitted by closed depressions so that divides between them form a crudely polygonal network.
Karst - Kinds of. Ref JJ
POOL DEPOSIT Any sediment which accumulates in a pool in a cave. Crystalline deposits precipitated in a cave pool, usually of crystalline shape as well as structure.
Cave - Depositional Features. Ref JJ
POPULATION Individuals of a species that form an interbreeding group, separated by physical barriers from other such populations.
Biology - Flora & Fauna. Ref JJ
POROSITY Primary: intergrannular porosity. Secondary: porosity arising from fractures and joints etc in the rock mass. Tertiary: posoity arising from the development of karstic conduits.
Hydrology terms. Ref JJ
POROSITY The property of rock or soil of having small voids between the constituent particles. The voids may or may not interconnect. If they conect, the Permeability of the rock will be higher. 3 classes of prosity are recognised:
Hydrology terms. Ref JJ
POT See Pothole.
Karst - Depression Features of. Ref JJ
POTHOLE A vertical or nearly vertical shaft or chimney open to the surface.
Karst - Depression Features of. Ref JJ
PREDATOR An animal which captures other animals for its food.
Fauna. Ref JJ
PRISMATIC COMPASS A compass with a prism that enables the viewing angle to be read whilst sighting a distant object.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ
PROJECTED SECTION In mapping, a vertical section along the main trend of a cave. Horizontal distances may be distorted, so that slope angles are reduced.
Survey & Mapping term. Ref JJ
PRUSIK KNOT A friction knot which can slide along a rope when no weight is applied, but grips when a pull is applied. Used in climbing.
Climbing and SRT. Ref JJ
PRUSIK SLING A sling fastened by a prusik knot to a rope
Climbing and SRT. Ref JJ
PRUSIKING Ascent on a rope using prusik knots as ascenders.
Climbing and SRT. Ref JJ
PSEUDOKARST Terrain with landforms (and caves) which resemble those of karst but are not the product of karst solution processes.
Karst - Kinds of. Ref JJ
PUDDINGS A local term for small tumuli within lava tubes, but also applied to porridge like mounds of pahoehoe that have been squeezed up through an opening in a crusted floor.
Lava Cave term. Ref KG
PUPA (Plu Pupae) The inactive stage of certain insects when the larva undergoes metamorphis and becomes an adult.
Fauna. 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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