Bulletin of the National Speleological Society - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 26 Number 1: 1-6 - January 1964

A publication of the National Speleological Society

On the Definition of a Cave
Rane L. Curl


A cave is a space rather than an object and consequently its definition involves the specification of its boundaries. This can be done in various ways for different purposes, but all definitions must involve a minimum dimension, if only to separate "cave" from such contiguous spaces as intercrystalline pores. It is proposed therefore to specify a defining dimension or module for a cave and for its entrances. The assocaiton of a suitable shape with the module is necessary.

Caves defined by a module of human size and shape are termed proper caves as they are custormarily given proper names when accessible. Proper entrances may be defined similarily although proper caves may or may not have proper (and natural) entrances.

Because this concept provides a uniform basis upon which other cave properties may be studied, it is useful in application. In addition it suggests the possibility of reasonably clearly dividing caves into groups according to their module range.

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