The cave is located on the south-western edge of the Slovak Paradise National Park in the Spiš-Gemer karst. Cave entrance is on the northern slope of the Duča Hill at elevation of 969 m, 130 m above the bottom of the Hnilec Valley.
Dobšinská Ice Cave is a part of the Stratená Cave System. It is formed in the Middle Triassic pale Steinalm and Wetterstein limestones of the Stratená Nappe, along the tectonic faults and interbed surfaces. The cave reaches the length of 1,483 m and vertical span of 112 m.
The main part of the cave is represented by a giant cavity descending from the entrance to the depth of 70 m, which was formed by breakdown of rock columns between the passages formed by ponor palaeoflow of Hniles in several development levels. At present, the most of its volume is filled with glacier, sometimes up to the ceiling, by which it is divided into individual parts (Great and Small Hall, Ruffiny’s Corridor and Ground Floor). Collapsed Dome (Zrútený dóm) is partly glaciated, and its edge reaches as far as under the Duča breakdown. Original oval shapes of river modelling are almost entirely destructed by collapses and frost weathering.
The upper non-glaciated parts of the cave are formed prevailingly by horizontal passages and halls with typical oval shapes and ceiling channels. There are also some forms of flowstone fills in the non-glaciated parts of the cave (stalagmites, stalactites, flowstone crusts, layers of moonmilk).
Conditions for glaciation arose probably in the middle Quaternary period after the breakdown of ceilings between the Dobšinská Ice Cave and Stratenská Cave, by which the cave obtained sack-like character with stagnation of cold air that penetrated into the cave through the upper opening formed by collapse of the ceiling part (present entrance to cave). Freezing the percolating rainfall waters caused glaciation of the underground space. The beginnings of ice formation go back to the Riss ice age (approx. 300- to 140-thousand years ago), or until the end of the Mindel ice age.
Ice fill occurs in the form of floor ice, icefalls, ice stalagmites and columns. Glaciated surface has 9,772 m2, ice volume reaches 110,132 m3. The highest thickness of ice is in the Great Hall with 26.5 m. The floor ice is characterized by its stratification. The decrease of ice takes place by melting on the contact with the bedrock. Continuous replacement of the underground glacier supposedly takes around 1,700 up to 2,000 years. The ice is slowly moving from the entrance, Small and Great Hall towards the Ground Floor and Ruffiny’s Corridor (2 to 4 cm a year). The Dobšinská Ice Cave belongs among the most significant ice caves in the world, which is accentuated by its location outside the Alps high-mountain region (underground ice is at elevation of 920 to 950 m above sea).
By now 12 bat species were recorded from this cave. The cave stands for the most important wintering place of the Whiskered Bat (Myotis mystacinus) and Brandt’s Bat (Myotis brandtii) in the central Europe. Higher abundance have species like the Northern Bat (Eptesicus nilssonii), Greater Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis myotis) and Brown long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus). Dominant groups of invertebrates iclude springtails (Collembola), diptera (Diptera), mites (Acarina) and beetles (Coleoptera). The inverse vegetation in the entrance part of the cave is habitat of a rare springtail Hypogastrura crassaegranulata dobsinensis, which is a glacial relict. The troglobitic springtails Arrhopalites aggtelekiensis, Deuteraphorura kratochvili and Protaphorura janosik with troglophilic multipede Allorhiscosoma sphinx are living directly in cave. The underground lake in the non-glaciated part of the cave is home for rare cave crustaceans Bathynella natans and one copepod of the Elaphoidella genus.
Show caves - Dobšinská Ice Cave