The Eisriesenwelt is a cave labyrinth with a total length of over 40 kilometres. It was created over a very long period of time. The first crevices and fissures in the limestone rock were formed in the course of the mountain uprisings about 100 million years ago.
Through millennia of chemical dissolution and water erosion, the subterranean fissures widened and large cavities were formed.
The caves in the Alps are still in a development process today, although many cave systems, including large parts of the Eisriesenwelt, are no longer developing significantly due to drying up.
Ice in the cave
Various systems cause cave ice. The Eisriesenwelt is a dynamic ice cave. This means that the cave passages and chasms form a connection from lower-lying entrances to higher-lying openings that allow airflow - for example like in a chimney.
Depending on the outside temperature, the temperature inside the mountain is either cooler or warmer, which occurs due to special thermal conditions. This means that in winter, when the air inside the mountain is warmer than outside, cold air flows into the mountain and cools the lower part of the cave below 0°C.
When meltwater seeps through the cracks in the rocks in spring and gets into the supercooled area of the cave, it freezes and forms the magnificent ice formations inside the mountain.