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[spee-lee-ol-uh-jee] /ˌspi liˈɒl ə dʒi/
the exploration and study of caves.
Also, spelaeology.
1890-95; < Latin spēlae(um) (see spelaean) + -o- + -logy
Related forms
[spee-lee-uh-loj-i-kuh l] /ˌspi li əˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl/ (Show IPA),
speleologist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for speleology
  • It was designed by educators and experts in the various disciplines of speleology.
  • The exploration of caves either for scientific purposes or for fun is known as speleology.
  • speleology is the science of exploration and study of all aspects of caves.
British Dictionary definitions for speleology


the scientific study of caves, esp in respect of their geological formation, flora and fauna, etc
the sport or pastime of exploring caves
Derived Forms
speleological, spelaeological (ˌspiːlɪəˈlɒdʒɪkəl) adjective
speleologist, spelaeologist, noun
Word Origin
C19: from Latin spēlaeum cave
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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speleology in Science
The exploration and scientific study of the geological and ecological features of caves.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for speleology

scientific discipline that is concerned with all aspects of caves and cave systems. Exploration and description of caves and their features are the principal focus of speleology, but much work on the chemical solution of limestone, rates of formation of stalagmites and stalactites, the influence of groundwater and hydrologic conditions generally, and on modes of cave development has been accomplished within this discipline. Speleology requires, essentially, the application of geological and hydrological knowledge to problems associated with underground cavern systems. Amateur exploration of caves, as a hobby, is called spelunking.

Learn more about speleology with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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