Bulletin of the National Speleological Society - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 30 Number 2: 25-29 - April 1968

A publication of the National Speleological Society

The Role of Gravity Sliding in the Development of Some Montana Caves
Newell P. Campbell


Recent studies of high mountain caves in Montana indicate that a surprising number of these caves have been formed by gravity sliding. Massive limestones resting on shale have been deeply dissected by erosion, allowing large blocks to "slide" down dip. Where these blocks break from the main mass, deep fissures are formed. Caverns formed in this manner show almost no solution features and their longitudional axes usually paralel nearby cliffs.

Many other vertical caves in Montana, long thought to have been formed entirely by solution, occupy positions paralleling walls of deep canyons. Gravity sliding may have been the force responsible for initiating development of these caves before normal solution enlarged them.

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