The most common type of cave is the solutional cave, formed by the solution of rock in natural acid found in groundwater . Solutional caves are most common in limestone, but are also found in chalk, dolomite, marble, salt, and gypsum. Those in limestone often contain calcium carbonate formations; the products of slow precipitation, such as flowstones, stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, soda straws and columns. Such formations are collectively known as speleothems. Another type of solutional cave is formed when limestone is dissolved in sulphuric acid formed from hydrogen sulphide gas rising from below and mixiing with groundwater. The most spectacular example of this subtype of Solutional cave is said to be Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico.
Another type of cave is the primary cave, formed at the same time as the surrounding rock. The most common primary caves are lava caves. Some of these are lava tubes, formed when the surface of the lava has solidified and the hotter lava continues to flow under the crust, afterwards flowing out and leaving a hollow tube. Lava caves also include rift caves, lava mold caves, open vertical volcanic conduits, and inflationary caves.
The Sea cave is yet another type, formed by the erosion of the sea on rocks. Some sea caves are littoral caves, which result from zones of weakness in cliffs and from wave action. Others are solutional caves which have been flooded by the sea.
Other types are Corrosional or erosional caves, formed by erosion from flowing streams carrying rocks and other sediments. Such caves can exist in all types of rock, even granite and other hard rocks.
There are also Glacier caves formed by melting, fracture caves formed by the solution of soluble materials such gypsum, talus caves (openings between rocks fallen into piles) and Anchihaline caves, containing mixtures of fresh and saline water.
Caves are also found under various different patterns. The different types of cave distinguished by pattern include branchwork caves formed by streams that meet as tributaries; angular caves made by fissures and fractures in carbonate rock widened by chemical erosion; anastomotic caves ressembling braided streams whose passages separate and then meet downstream; spongework caves- solutional caves joined by meeting of chemically diverse water; and ramiform caves formed as irregular large rooms, galleries and passages.