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For the long, deep, vertical underground crack, see canyon.
For the update, see Caves & Cliffs.
"Caves" redirects here. For the world type, see Buffet.

A cave entrance found in a Birch Forest biome.

A cave (also known as cavern) is a common terrain feature that generates in the Overworld and the Nether. Caves are usually found underground. They are open spaces of various sizes and shapes that often intersect with each another or with different generated structures, creating vast cave systems. They usually feature plenty of ores and are great places to gather resources, but can be dangerous because of the hostile mobs that spawn in the darkness.

Generation[]

Caves are underground structures consisting of randomly generated patches of air blocks and lava source blocks (at layer 10 and below‌[until JE 1.18]), hollowing out an area and exposing other blocks generated with the terrain (such as stones and blobs) in the interior. Their structure typically consists of a series of irregular tunnels branching off and winding in other directions, which may connect to the surface, creating natural entrances to the cave. In jungle biomes, vines generate in caves near the surface. Sand often falls into caves generated near the surface of a desert or beach; craters in the sand can alert the player to caves below the surface. Caves cannot cut through red sand nor snow blocks, despite these generating as a surface block in several biomes.[1]

Caves generate at any altitude up to Y-level 128, and may span from the surface all the way to the bedrock at Y-level 5‌[until JE 1.18] or -59‌[upcoming: JE 1.18]. They frequently intersect natural structures such as other caves, dungeons, ravines, and mineshafts. Because of low light levels, hostile mobs and bats often spawn in caves deep underground.

Structure[]

Caves come in two types: carvers and noise caves.

Carvers[]

Small cave[]

A small cave with a zombie inside.

Small caves are primarily located close to sea level and are unlikely to be linked to other caves. Because of their relative shallowness, they are unlikely to contain anything rarer than small deposits of basic ores such as coal and iron. Such caves may have multiple entrances that are naturally lit by sunlight or moonlight. These type of caves almost always feature pools of water/lava within, likely caused by the generation of the water itself.

Medium cave[]

A medium cave with a skeleton.

Medium-sized cave systems are commonly found within reach of other, often smaller caves, which are accessible via mining. These caves frequently contain large deposits of basic ores alongside small repositories of rarer materials. Such caves also regularly contain at least minor water or lava flows as well as the presence of dungeons.

Large cave[]

A large cave with Redstone Ore, Iron Ore and Coal Ore.

These are large subterranean systems, found deep within the overworld, often close to bedrock. They hold large deposits of essentially every known type of ore - with rarer materials, such as diamonds and emeralds. Note that emerald ore is exclusively generated in mountains biomes. Such systems contain a number of lakes of all types, as well as the presence of major lava and water flows.

There is little to no difference between small, medium, and large caves other than their size and complexity.

Mega cave[]

A mega cave.

Mega caves are huge spacious caves that are extremely rare to be found. They expose many ores and can potentially expose mineshafts. Unlike large caves, mega caves can range from 20 blocks and above in length. They can also be possibly bigger than a small ravine. Mega caves that generate low enough can form giant lava oceans.

Circular voids[]

An above-ground circular cave.

During the terrain generation process, large symmetrical and cylindrical or spherical voids of various sizes can infrequently be created underground, which often merge with other cave systems. These unusual type of caves vary from roughly 1 to 27 blocks in height, and from roughly 13 to 30 blocks in diameter, though larger examples are quite rare. Although not particularly of interest, from a mining perspective, they may appear unnaturally regular in comparison to the surrounding terrain. While the smallest rarely contain many ores, the largest can be quite useful for mining as their sheer surface area rivals that of a large ravine.

Rarely, dungeons or strongholds can be found in these rooms.

Deep pit[]

A deep pit.

These caves have a large hole for an entrance and then spiral down, often cutting into coal and iron deposits. Sometimes, these entrances can go nearly straight down, exposing rarer minerals.

Connected cavern[]

A medium size connected cavern with two semi-layers. The torches were placed by the player.

Connected caverns are large, spacious caverns that is usually the result when multiple small caves merge with each other creating a large, messy, single cave. They are similar to large caves except more messy and spacious, with different layers. These connected caverns usually have waterfalls or lavafalls coming out of the cave ceiling, sometimes even both. They also have different "floor layers", meaning the cave has different stone layers that can be accessed to each other in the same connected cavern, simply by stacking up blocks. Connected caves usually have two to four layers. Usually, small regular cave systems nearby eventually connect to a connected cavern. Caves may connect to a connected cavern from any direction, including from above. Connected caverns are not significantly rare, but can still prove to be a small challenge to find.

Sea-access cave[]

An example of a cave connected with the sea.

Sea-access caves are fundamentally underwater entrances to caves connected to the sea. They generate exclusively on ocean biomes. Even when caves usually generate specifically to avoid water, sea-access caves appear regularly, and are quite often small entrances with seagrass, and kelp if they can generate exposed to the sky. Sometimes, pseudo-sea-access caves are formed by gravel blocks collapsing inside a cave. These generate more often as underwater canyons than regular caves.

A player can see them from the surface of the ocean when they generate as an underwater canyon lit by magma blocks on the floor, surrounded by obsidian.

Underwater caves[]

An underwater cave, flooded completely with water.

Underwater caves are completely flooded caves that may have obsidian along their bottoms formed from lava with the water present throughout, and also magma blocks. They generate exclusively on ocean biomes.

Being completely underwater, only the magma blocks provide any air for entities to breathe, since they generate bubble columns. They have often seagrass, but since they don't generate exposed to sky kelp cannot generate, unlike sea-access caves.

Noise caves[]

The mechanism of noise cave formation (except aquifers).[2]

Crafting Table JE4 BE3.png
This section describes content that may be included in Java Edition. 
This content has appeared in Java Edition 1.18 development versions, but the full update containing it has not been released yet.
Blue Beaker BE1.png
This section contains content on features that are part of Experimental Gameplay in Bedrock Edition. 
These features may be properly added in a future update, but requires the "Caves and Cliffs" option toggled to be enabled in the current version.

Noise caves are generated using noise generator. They come in the form of cheese caves, spaghetti caves, and aquifers.[3]

Cheese, spaghetti, and noodle caves[]

Locked Map (item) BE2.png
This section describes a feature planned for Bedrock Edition. 
It has not appeared in any development versions yet, but is planned to be included in Bedrock Edition 1.18.0.
Cheese and spaghetti caves are in bedrock, noodle caves are not.

Cheese caves are pocket areas of the underground that come in various sizes. Spaghetti caves are long, narrow caves that wind their way through the underground and are a bit similar to small or medium original caves. Noodle caves are a thinner and squigglier variant of spaghetti caves‌[Java Edition only][upcoming: JE 1.18]. There are also noise pillars inside cave blobs.

When generating noise caves, the game firstly generates a random noise field, and "smudges" it using a mathematical trick called Perlin noise. These processes then results in a 3D noise image. For cheese caves, the black part of noise image becomes stone, and white part becomes air, making it look like a cheese with many blobs. For spaghetti and noodle caves, the edge of black and white part becomes air, making it look like long and thin spaghetti or noodles. Cheese caves offer large and open spaces, while spaghetti and noodle caves provide channels for connection. The three types of caves are combined to form a complete cave system.

By adjusting noise frequency, hollowness (for cheese caves), and thickness (for spaghetti caves, noodle caves‌[Java Edition only], and noise pillars), noise caves can become diverse from each other.

All noise caves between Y=31 and sea level (Y=63) are completely flooded.[4]

Aquifers[]

An aquifer, taking the form of a fully flooded cave.

Aquifers are flooded cave systems used to generate bodies of liquids in noise caves. Aquifers may create underground lakes.[3]

Magma blocks may appear at the bottom of aquifers, creating bubble columns.‌[Java Edition only][3]

Because they are filled with water instead of air, aquifers can be a good place to find ores which generate with reduced or no air exposure. More than one blob of diamonds may spawn in one aquifer.

Glow squids and axolotls often spawn in aquifers. Aquifers under ocean biomes may also have fish mobs spawn in them.

Aquifers below Y=0 may generate filled with lava instead of water.

Underground lakes[]

Main article: Lake

Water lakes[]

An underground water lake.

Found in every part of the world, underground water lakes are the most common type of lake. Water lakes may generate 1–20 blocks below the surface, are often visible from the surface and not particularly difficult to come across, and can generate all the way to bedrock level.

Lava lakes[]

Example of an underground lava lake.

These are similar to water lakes, and can generate at all layers. Blocks of stone usually generate around these.

Lava oceans[]

Example of an underground lava ocean.

Similarly to how water oceans replace all air blocks below a certain altitude on the surface, when deep enough in a cave (levels 1-10), all blocks that would generate as air instead generate as lava.

History[]

Java Edition pre-Classic
Cave game tech testDevelopment on "Cave Game" started; caverns are showcased.
Java Edition Classic
0.0.3aAdded caves.
August 25, 2009Caves are shown to be longer and more narrow.
It was demonstrated that bigger caves are located deeper underground.
0.24_SURVIVAL_TESTAdded the above cave changes.
Java Edition Indev
0.3120100122Caves are no longer filled with water as often.
Java Edition Infdev
Minecraft Infdev20100227-1Removed caves.
20100325Caves were reimplemented.
20100327Removed caves again.
20100616Again reimplemented caves.[is this the correct version?]
Caves are now clustered instead of random.[is this the correct version?]
Caves have 1–5 exits, enabling multiple escapes.
Caves are now so clustered that a cave could be described as "Swiss cheese".
More water and lava springs generate in caves.
Tunnels have a wider variety of thickness.[is this the correct version?]
20100617-2Gravel and dirt can now be found in caves.[is this the correct version?]
Java Edition Alpha
v1.0.3Caves now have ambient noises such as moans and train whistles.
v1.2.6Pools of water and lava can now be found in caves.
Java Edition Beta
1.2Ores can now be found more often on the walls of caves.
Java Edition
1.4.212w38aBats added, and are the only passive mob to spawn in dark caves.
12w38bNew cave sounds added.
1.7.213w36aCave generation tweaked, making caves less dense and interconnected.[5][6]
1.814w02aCaves now generate with granite, diorite, and andesite below Y:80, in a similar abundance to gravel or dirt.
14w20aCaves now generate on the surface of desert, mesa, mega taiga and mushroom biomes.
14w32aCaves surfacing in mesa biomes now generate with red sandstone rather than sandstone.
1.1016w20aCaves no longer generate with sandstone in the ceiling, when they surface through sand of any type. The sand instead shows unstable sand particles, until it is disturbed.
1.1318w08aCaves and ravines can now generate underwater.
October 3, 2020The Caves & Cliffs update was announced at Minecraft Live 2020, revealing cave biomes, aquifers, and noise caves.
1.1721w06aRevamped cave generation by adding cheese caves, spaghetti caves, and flooded aquifer caves.
Removed flooded carver caves, as they are replaced by aquifers.
Caves can now generate down to Y=-60.
21w07aNoise caves and aquifers appear less often and caves that are below the Y level of 0 will now be made with grimstone
21w08aAdded crack carvers.
Tweaked cave sizes.
Added more variation to carvers.[7]
21w10aCrack carvers are now much less common.
21w11aTweaked cave sizes.
21w13aMade carvers less likely to be too flat to walk through.
Increased likelihood of huge caves (very large cheese caves).
Reduced likelihood of tall 1-block thin pillars.
Changes were made to make the cheese caves more varied in aspect and size.
Deepslate blobs can now be found between heights 0 and 16.
Dripstone clusters can now be found rarely in regular caves.
21w15aAll changes to caves from 21w06a - 21w13a with the exception of random deepslate and tuff blobs and dripstone clusters have been reverted and disabled.
Upcoming Java Edition
1.18Experimental Snapshot 1Re-introduced all previous changes to cave generation, which were only available through certain snapshots and the preview data pack prior to this experimental snapshot.
Lush Caves and Dripstone Caves can now generate naturally.
Noise caves are no longer flooded above Y=30.
Noodle caves now generate at all altitudes.
Removed the crevice carver.
experimental snapshot 2Noise caves are less likely to extend from the surface to negative Y levels.
Cheese caves are a bit smaller and less likely to intersect the surface.
Pocket Edition Alpha
v0.9.0build 1Added caves.
Bedrock Edition
1.4.0beta 1.2.20.1Caves can now generate underwater.
1.16.0beta 1.16.0.57Added ambient cave sounds.
1.16.220beta 1.16.220.52Caves now generate down to Y=-64.
1.17.0beta 1.16.230.52Deepslate blobs can now be found between heights 0 and 16.
beta 1.16.230.54Dripstone clusters can now be found rarely in regular caves.
beta 1.16.230.56Revamped cave generation by adding cheese caves, spaghetti caves, and flooded aquifer caves.
Caves can now generate down to Y=-60.
releaseThe new cave generation has been made inaccessible in the full release.
1.17.10releaseThe new cave generation has been made accessible, behind experimental gameplay toggle.
Legacy Console Edition
TU1CU1 1.0 Patch 11.0.1Added caves.
New Nintendo 3DS Edition
0.1.0Added caves.
1.3.12Improved visibility in caves.

Issues[]

Issues relating to "Cave" are maintained on the bug tracker. Report issues there.

Gallery[]

Carvers[]

Noise caves[]

Aquifer[]

Biomes[]

See also[]

References[]