Belize has so many caves because there is so much limestone. Limestone is filled with cracks and fissures through which water can trickle and seep down. It moves down until non-porous soil, such as clay, or hard impervious bedrock, such as granite, is encountered. As the water passes through, it combines with CO2 and a weak acid is formed, called carbonic acid.
If a river is passing underground, caves will be formed by abrasive erosion and create winding tunnels. Evidence of erosion, including sand and small rounded stones, will be found in caves such as this, even if the river has disappeared. In Belize, we have at least two existing underground river cave systems. The Rio Frio Cave is a remnant of an underground river, vastly larger than the stream that flows through it now. It is open at both ends, and indication that the rest of the tunnel has collapsed. The Blue Hole National Park on the Hummingbird Highway is the opposite - an underground river with a small portion of its roof collapsed, and only a small portion of the river is visible from the surface.
Other cave systems are Blue Creek and Little Quartz Ridge in Toledo District; Petroglyph and Caves Branch; and Barton Creek Cave, through which you canoe to view formations. Chechem-Ha cave, used by generation of Maya for ceremonial and burial purposes, is a winding cave with a dirt bottom, lacking noticeable dripstone formations.
The main type of cave (the solution cave ), is formed over long periods of time by the chemical action of the weak carbonic acid as it makes its way through existing crevices in the limestone. Eventually, caverns of varying sizes may be formed, at different levels if the water table has risen and fallen over the years.
The dissolved carbonate will precipitate out as it passes into the open air of a chamber. The downward projecting icicle-like formation called the stalactite is formed from centuries worth of drips. If the drips of carbonate-laden water hit a dry floor, a buildup of carbonate may be precipitated out into a column projecting upward from the floor, called a stalagmite. If these should meet, a pillar is formed.
Other striking formation such as sheet flowstone-where the water spread out in a flat sheet and deposited its load of carbonate; or the water dribbed in through a small hole in the wall to create formations that resemble folds of cloth or other exotic shapes, are found in some Belizean caves. Such formations can be found in the Rio Frio and Barton Creek Caves.
The largest cave system in Belize is the Chiquibul, located near to Guatemala, west of the Maya Mountains. This has many miles of tunnels, including the spectacular Cebada.
A cenote is a limestone sinkhole, formed by the action of caronic acid. Sinkholes provide evidence of underground cave systems. The most famous is the one in the Yucatan Maya ruin of Chicken Itza; however, Belize has a few of its own - the Hummingbird Blue Hole is one that is easily accessible.
Cave and sinkholes are even found under the sea. The most famous in Belize is the (other) Blue Hole, located at roughly the midpoint of the Lighthouse Atoll. This drops to a depth of over 400 feet, dripstone formations are observed at 132 feet and are popular dive attractions. These dripstone formations are not quite vertical, due to continued earth movement since the cave's formation. Since limestone cave formations could not possibly have formed underwater, this provides evidence of dissolution action from when the caves were above sea level, in earth's history.
Another massive cave system lies under Caye Caulker; from a small entrance on the leeward side of the island, a large shaft opens up, then shrinks down to where it can barely accommodate one person. This opens up into a massive, completely-submerged cavern some 1,500 feet in length, off to the sides are several passages that have not as yet been explored. Inside are massive stalactites that are also off-vertical.
Trent S. Turley
My name is Trenton S. Turley, and I am a Belizean citizen who has now been living in the country of Belize for the past 15 years. I am also an environmental activist. Our family moved to Belize, when I was 8 years old. I speak English, Spanish, Kriol and American Sign Language. I have a true love for the eco-system of Belize, with regards to preserving this beautiful countries resources.
I'm now a licensed Tour Guide
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Is located on the island of Ambergris Caye, directly across from the Belize Barrier Reef, off the mainland coast of Belize. The property is nestled in a cluster of Australian Pine trees, backed to a littoral jungle, and surrounded by tropical gardens. It's about a one minute walk from the property to the beach, and a 10-15 minute drive from the island airstrip to the property.
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(3) blocks is Robyn's BBQ
(4) blocks is 2 fruit stands
(5) blocks local grocery store
IF YOU'RE COMING TO BELIZE TO...............
If you're coming to Belize to dive the Blue Hole, descend the shelf walls at Turneffe, snorkel the Barrier Reef, explore Mayan ruins, rappel into a cave, kayak along the river through caves, zip line through jungle tree tops, hike through a cave to see an ancient human skeleton, swim with sharks, listen to Howler Monkey's, hold a boa constrictor, feed a jaguar, horseback ride through the jungle, canoe through a cave, rappel down a waterfall, sail around an island, enjoy cocktails & dinner to a sunset, climb 130' feet to the top of a Mayan ruin, rip up the jungle trails on an ATV, float through a series of caves on a tube, and sip on a rum punch.....
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San Pedro, Belize
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