Fact Sheet on 6000 Caves
What is a cave?
A cave is a natural cavity in rock which can be entered for an appreciable distance by a human.
How many caves are recorded in state at this time?
Is this the most in the
Most caves in the state are
formed in dolomite or limestone rock units; some relatively short caves are
formed in sandstone or other non-soluble rocks. Much of southern
How old are these rock units and the caves in them?
The majority of the caves are found in rocks dating from the Ordovician period (425-500 million years ago), lesser numbers in older Cambrian rock or younger Mississippian rocks. The actual age of the caves themselves probably varies from tens of thousands of years to millions of years.
What is a cave area?
The term “karst” is used to describe areas having large numbers of caves in them. In addition to caves, karst regions have sinkholes, springs, losing streams, and natural tunnels in them.
What counties have the most caves?
What are some of the most popular names of caves?
Are there caves in cities? Perryville and
What are the longest caves?
What are the deepest (below entrance) caves?
Most of the rest of the deep caves are divable springs, the bottom of the deepest of which is approximately at sea level.
How are depth and length calculated?
Caves are surveyed with standard methodologies utilizing tapes, compasses, and .clinometers.
Over 2900 cave maps are currently on file with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Geologic Survey/Resource Assessment Division.
Where are the highest and lowest caves in
Highest caves in elevation
are found in Wright and
Who owns most of the caves?
Most caves (75%) are privately owned; public agencies own about 1500 caves total.
Where can I see caves being formed?
Caves are formed from processes that you can still observe: at large springs in the Ozarks, or in sinkholes in many parts of the state.
How have the numbers of caves known grown over the years?
Missouri Geologic Survey had list of caves about 1940 that showed 210 caves in 40 counties.
J Harlen Bretz wrote Caves of Missouri 1956 and recorded 437 caves in 55 counties.
The Missouri Speleological Survey was formed in 1956. By 1968 the MSS had recorded 2250 caves in 76 counties.
Today there are 6037 caves recorded in 83 counties.
53 of those new caves have been recorded since the beginning of 2005.
Most new caves being found
are in south-central to southwest
How are new caves located?
Some caves are discovered by accident. Others are located by natural resource work by government agency employees. Some are reported by the owners of the property the caves are on. Most are found by members and cooperators of the Speleological Survey searching areas of the state for new caves. Knowing the topography and geology of the area provides clues to places where caves might be found.
Are there more caves to be found?
Some large areas of suitable
topography and geology have few caves currently known from them. There are
probably still thousands of unreported caves in
Who is doing all this locating work? Some of the most active are:
age 26, Interpreter and resource tech at
age 51 (
Andy Free, age 30?, Armory technician, Ft. Leonard Wood (Waynesville)
Michael Sutton, age 57, Ecologist, Cave Research Foundation (Lesterville)
age 31, geography student, SMSU (
age 54, Occupation: Training Designer at 3M for 27 years. (
age 47, occupation - Union Carpenter, (
age 47, freight conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad. (
Kirsten Alvey age 37, Food Service Manager and House Chef
for Kappa Alpha Fraternity at Univ of Mo. (
age 25 Student / Maintenance, (
James Corsentino age 36, Communications, (
And many, many others…………
Scott House, Cave Files Manager