What process formed the limestone caves at Waitomo?

As the earth shifted and volcanoes erupted, huge slabs of limestone were lifted out of the sea. Over time, water flowed through cracks in the rocks, widening these channels until huge caverns were formed. There are approximately 300 known caves in the Waitomo region.

What type of rock makes up the Waitomo Caves?

Over millions of years, these fossilized rocks have been layered upon each other and compressed to create limestone and within the Waitomo region the limestone can be over 200 m thick. The caves began to form when earth movement caused the hard limestone to bend and buckle under the ocean and rise above the sea floor.

What is special about the Waitomo Caves?

The Waitomo Caves are not only a home for glowworms, but then also hold another amazing insect called a cave weta. Otherwise known as a cave cricket, weta are endemic to New Zealand. There are 70 different species, with one of those species, the giant weta, being the heaviest insect in the world.

How was the glowworm cave formed?

The cave formed when movement within the Earth caused the limestone to bend underwater and rise above the sea floor. As the limestone gained more air exposure, it began to separate, which allowed for water to flow through the cracks and hollow out the structures to form the cave.

How are caves formed in the Waikato Waitomo area?

The caves are channels that have been dissolved out of limestone by underground streams over many thousands of years. Water seeping down through the limestone becomes fully charged with lime in solution. As this drips from the cavern roofs some of the water evaporates leaving a minute deposit of lime behind.

How did limestone form?

Formation. Limestone forms when calcite or aragonite precipitate out of water containing dissolved calcium, which can take place through both biological and nonbiological processes. The solubility of calcium carbonate ( CaCO 3) is controlled largely by the amount of dissolved carbon dioxide ( CO 2) in the water.

How is limestone formed in NZ?

Not much sediment from land entered these coastal waters, and layers of shells and bones from billions of sea creatures accumulated on the sea floor. These hardened into rocks, which were eventually uplifted and now form the country’s karst (weathered limestone) landscapes.

What makes Waitomo Caves glow?

Why do glowworms glow? The pretty light that you see when you visit Waitomo Caves comes from the glowworm’s tail, which is bioluminescent. This means that the chemicals it secretes react with the oxygen in the air to create light.

Does Glow Worm poop glow?

Glow-worms do indeed have poo. But of course this does NOT glow! They discard their excrement (a tiny black smudge) outside the snare presumably to decrease fungal attack. I used a piece of filter paper under each glowworm to establish this for the Australian species.

What rock formations are made of limestone?

Limestone has two origins: (1) biogenic precipitation from seawater, the primary agents being lime-secreting organisms and foraminifera; and (2) mechanical transport and deposition of preexisting limestones, forming clastic deposits. Travertine, tufa, caliche, chalk, sparite, and micrite are all varieties of limestone.

How is limestone formed and where is it found?

Limestone gives off bubbles of carbon dioxide. Most fresh water and sea water contain dissolved calcium carbonate. All limestones are formed when the calcium carbonate crystallizes out of solution or from the skeletons of small sea urchins and coral. All the different kinds can be divided into two groups.

Where do you find limestone in NZ?

There are two large quarries in the Waikato region, and a quarry at Te Kuiti annually produces around 50,000 tonnes of high-grade limestone.

Where is limestone formed?

Most limestones form in calm, clear, warm, shallow marine waters. That type of environment is where organisms capable of forming calcium carbonate shells and skeletons can thrive and easily extract the needed ingredients from ocean water.

When was Waitomo discovered?

The caves were first explored in 1887 by local Maori Chief Tane Tinorau accompanied by an English surveyor Fred Mace. Local Maori people knew of the caves existence, but the subterranean caverns had never been extensively explored until Fred and Tane went to investigate.

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