Three processes successively predominate in enlarging original fractures within limestone into cavern passages: (1) early dissolving by acid produced by oxidizing reactions within the groundwater as it flows through the limestone; (2) dissolving caused by the initial undersaturation with respect to calcite of the groundwater when it enters the limestone; and (3) increased dissolving which occurs at the transition from laminar to turbulent groundwater flow. Only those original fractures in limestone which are widest and which have a high hydraulic gradient acting across them will be enlarged into cavern passages. Until all available surface drainage has been diverted underground, cavern development takes place under a constant hydraulic head, and the rate of limestone solution increases with time. After all available surface drainage has been diverted underground, the discharge through the cave, rather than the hydraulic head, remains constant, and the rate of limestone solution decreases toward a constant value. These principles apply to caverns formed both by water-table flow and by artesian flow.
Howard, Alan D..
Processes of limestone cave development.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol1/iss1/8