Why I love Caves

Why I love Caves

By Jóhannes M. Jóhannesson

Apart from the obvious reasons for loving caves, such as they are beautiful, mysterious and have often extraordinary lava formations, they are also important formation that help the understanding of the geology of this planet. Caves in general, and then mostly sedimentary caves, have also played a significant role through history as habitats, not just for humans but also quite many other species of animals. Many caves are therefore a treasure trove for discoveries in the fields of biology, archaeology and palaeontology. 

Lava caves in Iceland have a long history of being covered in rather morbid mythology and often associated with fear of the unknown, but in modern times they have become places to visit and to enjoy the lovely nature we have here along with the awe-inspiring geological formations that are not that common in large part of the world. My interest in caves and caving started early on as there was a small cave not 10 meters away from the house I grew up in, but I also went quite often with my family into larger caves. Then as I grew older and started to study geology, trips into caves started to become a regular event and my interest in them became more of the scientific nature, but the excitement of the unknown was always present as well. Caves present you with the opportunity to discover something new and you never know what is lurking behind the next turn. Cave exploring therefore frees up your inner discoverer, and there is nothing more exciting than finding a new cave (or at least a cave that is not marked in cave registers) and wonder whether you are the first person to go into the cave, or at least the first person to be there in a long time. It is therefore equally disappointing to find a plastic rapper deep in the cave and realizing that someone was there before you, and even more disappointing that someone left trash behind in the cave. My geological interests in lava caves, are that the caves are frozen in time since shortly after the end of the volcanic eruptions that formed them, and act as a sort of a time capsule that allows you to see into the past. That is especially true with the many different flow formations, such as flow lines, that are often found within caves and show you how large the lava flow was as it was moving through the cave.

And on my final note, one of the best horror movies ever made (opinion that is NOT shared by most, if not all, of my colleges here at the Cave and in fact most have not seen it and refuse to watch it with me - for some reasons that I cannot grasp) is called the Descent and happens in a cave system. I therefore highly recommend that you watch the Descent before your future caving excursions as I can guaranty that the movie will greatly enhance your caving experience (Disclaimer: results may wary), but in somewhat dark ways though, so be prepared!