HomeThe nature guideCaves, psychology and knowledge

By Rabbe Sjöberg

The article was included in the Nordmaling nature guide and field handbook published in 2006

What references do you have when you visit a cave? How do you react when, after many, many years, you see a bedrock cave you once discovered? I suspect that the most common reaction is: "Wasn't it bigger?".

At the beginning of my cave career, in the mid-1960s, I lived in Nordmaling, that parish located in Ångermanland, but in Västerbotten County. I then lived on the road that leads from the church up to the water tower. There went the usual evening walk. At that time I had visited Räckebergskyrkan, found Tjuv-Ante's cave and fl your other tunnel caves in the parish. My cave eyes had told my brain that this is what caves should look like. Cavities under and between boulders did not count.

Of course, on my walks I had discovered the holes under and between the blocks on the northern slope in Vattentornsberget. But they did not count. I did not report them to Leander Tell when he was working on the supplement to Grottor i Sverige. Nor was any cave form written when we started with these. Why would I write anything about those little holes under randomly dropped blocks?

Over the years, my knowledge of Swedish caves and what is a Swedish normal cave increased. Not least, my knowledge of the processes that formed these caves increased. Leander Tell was so right when he said that a cave does not have to be big to be interesting. It was the wisdom of an old experienced caveman!

In the autumn of 2005, I had reason to revisit Vattentornsberget in Nordmaling. Those caves I ignored I now saw again with completely different and more knowledgeable eyes. The cliff consisted of large boulders offset some half a meter from the solid rock. Between these were a number of well-visited caves. I did not remember that the caves were this big! The caves' slightly more than meter-high entrance holes led to cave passages between five and fifteen meters long. At the bottom of the caves, the edges of many of the blocks had been ground.

The cave slope was facing north. On the smooth slabs up on the ridge there were beautiful ice foxes. The cave slope was directed straight towards the ice direction. Here should have been a round ground impact side, instead there was a five-meter cliff with displaced blocks. The glacial picking would have taken place on the south side of the mountain, but it was covered with moraine and residential houses. The boulders had thus been released after the ice melted. The swell blocks showed that the caves existed when the low mountain rose from the sea only 3,000 years ago. It could not be abrasive picking. The waves should also have struck from the angle west-southeast and not towards the northern slope. The only possible genesis that remained was thus seismotectonics.
The previously uninteresting caves in Vattentornsberget thus proved to have both an interesting genesis and to be larger than a Swedish average cave. The average length of all our caves is about five meters. I had no idea about this 40 years ago.

What do we learn from this? Mainly that Tell's words of wisdom stand. A cave does not have to be big to be interesting. Furthermore, with increased knowledge, you see so much more and that what you ignored in a youthful mind was perhaps much better than you remember.

Rabbe Sjöberg, fi l. dr. in geology, fi l.lic. in geomorphology. Cave researcher with Nordmalingsföret.

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Nordmaling

Nordmalings kommun
914 81 Nordmaling

turism@nordmaling.se
nordmaling.se

The Umeå region

Visit Umeå
Information and inspiration

info@visitumea.se
visitumea.se

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