Dissolving a puzzle | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


News

Dissolving a puzzle

Study shows mathematically how a trickle can create a cavern

By
4:12pm, November 30, 2010

Spelunkers look at a cave and wonder how to explore its deepest reaches. But physicists look at it and wonder how it got there in the first place.

A new mathematical analysis solves a longstanding cave-formation puzzle: how a trickle of water laced with carbonic acid manages to quickly dissolve rock to create massive conduits. The trick, it seems, is that fluid flow focuses rapidly in certain channels, which grow at the expense of others and allow the acid to penetrate deeply.

“Most of the models in cave formation today don’t h

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content