• The Historic Entrance of Mammoth Cave

    Mammoth Cave

    National Park Kentucky

Cave/Karst Systems

Nature and Science

The Sinkhole Plain

The Longest Cave: The total surveyed extent of Mammoth Cave currently stands at over 627 kilometers (more than 390 miles) with potential for a 1600 kilometer (1000 mile) system. In addition, there are more than 200 caves within the park which are disconnected fragments of the larger system or associated with local drainage features. The geology and geography of the area has resulted in a variety of karst basins, which have become the most thoroughly understood conduit flow aquifer in the world.

Karst Landscapes: These regions are characterized by rapid subsurface drainage through limestone and cave systems, account for approximately 20% of the Earth's land surface, 25% of the continental United States and 45% of the area east of the Mississippi River. Approximately 40% of the U.S. population relies upon karst aquifers for drinking water.

Did You Know?

Eyeless cave fish

Creatures that spend their entire lives in Mammoth Cave adapt to the dark world. Some types of cave fish, for example, do not grow eyes – supporting these extra unnecessary organs would consume precious energy in their nutrient-poor environment.