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(spēlēŏl`əjē), systematic exploration of cavescave,
a cavity in the earth's surface usually large enough for a person to enter. Caves may be formed by the chemical and mechanical action of a stream upon soluble or soft rock, of rainwater seeping through soluble rock to the groundwater level, or of waves dashed against a
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, popularly called spelunking. It includes the measuring and mapping of caves and reporting on the flora and fauna found in them. One application of speleology is the tracing of the movement of underground waters to prevent water pollution.


See R. Pinney, The Complete Book of Cave Exploration (1962); D. R. McClurg, The Amateur's Guide to Caves and Caving (1973); W. R. Halliday, American Caves and Caving (1974); R. D. Ford, ed., The Science of Speleology (1976).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the scientific study of caves. Speleologists study the origin, morphology, microclimate, waters, and plant life of caves, as well as modern and ancient cave fauna, remnants of Stone Age material culture, cave drawings, sculptural representations, and modern-day use. The science of speleology first developed in the second half of the 19th century; its beginnings are associated with the French explorer E.-A. Martel and the Austrian scientists A. Schmidl, F. Kraus, A. Grund, and W. Knebel.

Because most large caves are formed through the solution of rock by water and are related to karst phenomena, speleology is closely associated with karstology. The science also studies caves that form as a result of weathering, deflation, abrasion, undermining, the action of tectonic forces, the flow and cooling of lava, the melting of ice (glacier caves), and the deposition of travertine. Artificial caves cut into rock by man are also studied. Since speleology studies all of the components of subterranean topography, the science is closely linked with geology, mineralogy, geomorphology, hydrogeology, hydrology, meteorology, climatology, botany, physical geography, zoology, paleontology, archaeology, and history.

Spelunkers, persons who explore and study caves as a hobby, play a large role in cave exploration. As hobbyists, they purchase the special equipment needed, and their skills enable them to make difficult descents and to overcome water barriers. Many countries have speleological and spelunking societies, groups, and clubs, which form national associations. In the USSR research in speleology is conducted at the Perm’ All-Union Institute of Karstology and Speleology, the Ufa Institute of Karstology and Speleology, the Speleological Base in Kungur (Urals), the Karstology and Speleology Commision of the Geographic Society of the USSR in Leningrad, and the Speleological Council of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Georgian SSR in Tbilisi. There are numerous spelunking associations, whose activities are coordinated by a central spelunking section of the Central Council on Tourism and Excursions of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions in Moscow. The first congress of the International Speleological Union was held in 1953; the organization’s charter was adopted in 1965 in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, at the union’s fourth congress.


Gvozdetskii, N. A. Problemy izucheniia karsta i praktika. Moscow, 1972.
Maksimovich, G. A. Osnovy karstovedeniia, vol. 1. Perm’, 1963.
Iliukhin, V., and V. Dublianskii. Puteshestviia pod zemlei. Moscow, 1968.
Peshchery (collection), issues 1(2)–15. Perm’, 1961–74.
Peshchery Gruzii, issues 1–5. Tbilisi, 1963–73.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The study and exploration of caves.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


, spelaeology
1. the scientific study of caves, esp in respect of their geological formation, flora and fauna, etc.
2. the sport or pastime of exploring caves
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
He invited speleologist Jan Majka in 1950 to Nitra to carry out the first research.
No speleologists have ever been to these islands before."
In 2000, Pernette will lead a team of scientists and fellow speleologists to explore and map these unexplored caves which, it is hoped, will provide geologists with a laboratory for studying the movement of the Earth's crust.
Oman is home to a massive network of caves and underground passageways filled with limestone carvings making the sultanate one of the most sought-after destinations for spelunkers and speleologists. The new finds by the Speleological Team of Oman adds to the growing list of recent discoveries.
The deepest locations were only accessible by very experienced speleologists with self-contained breathing apparatuses due to low oxygen content, extreme temperatures, and hazardous concentrations of other gases.
This stopped many speleologists -- studiers of caves -- until Sami Karkabi, a founding member of the Speleo Club, scaled the wall, which eventually took his name: "Falaise Karkabi." This feat, along with the discovery of a new route, allowed for people to go as far as 6,500 meters into the complex.
baccalaureate bare ale caa cut bacteriolyses bels ary cis toe emotionalised eild moi ons tae perditionable pine eta rib dol savourinesses sues ars vis one speleologists segs poi els lot subterraneans sens ure bra tan subterraneous sens ure bro tau And 4-ply 14-letter words can also be found.
# Exploring a cave at Suva Gora, speleologists found human remains, a fragment of an activated projectile for a hand rocket launcher, a hunting rifle and several pieces of clothes and reported them to the police.
I fully intended to take a picture the next day and a) tell the council how lethal their roads were; and b) invite the nation's speleologists to come and explore the new subterranean network opening up under Hunts Cross.
Thanks to the trailblazing work of speleologists and other scientists belonging to La Venta Geographical Association (La Venta Esplorazioni Geografeche, website: http://www.laventa.it/en/palawan) that explored Palawan in 2007, 2008 and 2011, the sirenia fossil proved to be a rare find.
Scientists who study caves are called speleologists. Amateur cave explorers are called spelunkers; these adventurers enjoy testing their strength, skill, and nerve while exploring caves.