Making A Cave

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Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
7 8 9 10 11 12
Organization:American Geosciences Institute (AGI); Earth Science Week (ESW); National Park Service (NPS)
Summary:We usually think of caves forming as rocks are dissolved and the particles are washed away, leaving hollow spaces behind. This activity simulates the way that dissolution, a chemical weathering process, leads to the formation of caves. When precipitation such as rainwater or snowmelt mixes with carbon dioxide from the air and from decaying plants in the soil, the result is carbonic acid. This acidic water flows through cracks in the earth's surface and seeps into the rocks below. Once the acidic water reaches carbonate rocks and other rocks that dissolve readily, it dissolves away the rock to create passageways, rooms, and speleothems — cave formations.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 4
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:ESS2.C
NGSS Performance Expectations:HS-ESS2-5; MS-ESS2-2
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering); Planning and carrying out investigations
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Scale, proportion, and quantity; Structure and function
Subjects: cave; earth science week; geology; groundwater; karst; minerals; rocks
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