Rock Mines

Artificial Caves

rock mine (n) A mine worked for rock of some kind, or excavated in massive rock; (English regional) †a salt mine (obsolete). Origin: Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Gerard Boate (1604–1650), physician and natural historian.

This category of subterranea is a little strange, as there is no good word for this kind of caverns. So as we do not have a name, the heading is rather descriptive, and not really the term to name this kind of caverns. The term rock mine is actually defined (see above) but it does not represent, what we actually mean. So we first try to explain which kind of subterranea is meant, and then to understand why there is no term to name them.

Mines are normaly producing valuable precious or semi-precious minerals, ores or coal. Limestone, marble, granite and other rocks are normally quarried, which means an open cast mine. It is really uncommon to mine this rocks underground, as underground mining is difficult and costly. Normally those rock are not valuable enough to mine them underground.

Under certain circumstance, in areas which do not allow open cast quarrying, rather worthless limestone or sandstone is mined underground. And as it is so uncommon, there is no word to describe this, and so the caverns which were created this way are just called caves. But this term is absolutely wrong in the speleologic sense, as caves are always natural. So we do not use the term caves for this kind of subterranea, except if its a proper name of the site.

The term Rock Mine - as we use it - is just descriptive, but not used in literature. But we think it explains what it is and it is easy to understand, so we use it throughout On the other hand we listed it under subterranea, as it is not really a mine. It is normally not perceived as a mine by visitors. And this is an important fact, which explains us why this locations are called caves.

There is a big difference between caves and mines, which most people know intuitively: caves are cool and wet with fresh air and mines are often warm and dry with bad air. The explanation is easy: mines are often deep below the ground and not part of the ground water system, so they are heated by geothermic energy. Of course there are many cold and wet mines with serious ground water problems, but still this is a good explanation why so many people tend to call underground limstone quarrys caves.

The people working in this underground quarries were called stone-hewers, not miners.