The Obir Dripstone Caves, Formation

HOW SLOWLY DOES THE ROCK LIVE?

The Obir Dripstone Caves that nowadays are open to the public were formed 2.6 million years ago. Barely have I set foot in these underground halls than time stands still.

Most caves in the karst rocks of the Alps are formed when the limestone is dissolved by slightly acidic rainwater seeping through cracks. This chemical process is called corrosion - the constant drip-drop of water hollows out the rock. Viewed over the long term, the structure of the caves created in this fashion is always dynamic. This and the natural tectonic movements in the rock, together with the inflows of water and breakthroughs in the rock result in the formation of majestic halls and underground lakes.

And the stalactites? They are formed when dripwater that seeps through the ground dissolves limestone. Limestone that hardens again as soon as the drop of water reaches the ceiling of the cave. If that happens often enough in the same place, a stalactite is formed. They look like icicles or bizarre creatures that are constantly nourished by the seeping water and grow: By all of half mm a year. That is about the thickness of a sheet of paper.

Mother Nature formed and shaped these underground natural wonders over thousands of years leaving behind a work of magical beauty. Yet it is only rock.

Geopark Karawanken/Karavanke – an amazing cross-border discovery

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