UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis
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Glossary

Glossary of Karst and Cave Terms

sea cave
1. A cave cut in any rock type where a geological weakness is exploited by the highly selective erosion power of wave action. Fingal's Cave, cut in the basalt of Staffa, Scotland, is a famous example. True sea caves should not be confused with dissolutional caves that pre-dated the wave action but were then intersected and revealed as a cliff line was eroded back such as caves in the Chalk at Beachy Head in south-east England. In some young tropical islands, dissolutional voids have formed below sea-level in the mixing zone between fresh and saline ground water. Some have subsequently been tectonically uplifted into a shoreline position, to give the misleading impression of having developed due to waver action. Caves of this type on the coast of Tongatapu, Tonga, have pools that connect with active dissolutional cavities below sea-level that might be related to the mixing zone [9]. 2. A cave or cleft in a sea cliff or coastal karst outcrop eroded by waves or currents or dissolved by circulating ground water [20]. Synonyms: (French.) grotte marine; (German.) Kustenhohle, Meereshohle; (Greek.) thalassion spelson - paraktion speleon; (Italian.) grotta marina; (Russian.) morskaja pescera; (Spanish.) cueva marina; (Turkish.) deniz magarasi; (Yugoslavian.) morska pecina (spilja). See cave. Compare nip. See also littoral zone.