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The Krubera Cave in Abkhazia: World's Deepest Cave

Posted By Mr. Online on Saturday, 16 March 2013 | 18:19


The Krubera Cave (or the Voronya Cave, sometimes spelled the Voronja Cave) is the deepest known cave on Earth. It is located in the Arabika Massif of the Gagrinsky Range of the Western Caucasus, in the Gagra district of Abkhazia, near the Black Sea. "Voronya Cave" means "Crows' Cave" in Russian. This name was given after the noted Russian geographer Alexander Kruber. 

The cave is considered as the “Everest of the caves”. The total length of cave passages reaches 13,232 m, the depth is -2,191m ± 20 metres (-7,188 ± 66 ft). Krubera Cave became the world’s deepest cave in 2001, when Ukrainian speleogolists reached a depth of 1710m, thereby exceeding the previous known reigning champion in the Austrian Alps. At a depth of 1500m a subterranean waterfall of near-freezing water has flooded a branch of the cave system, while the main branch continues to a depth of 2140m, where a terminal siphon marks the end of the cave. The approach to the extreme depths of the cave was accomplished, using ropes, through a complex of pathways determined on the basis of water streaming through the cave.
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First an intrepid team of explorers broke the depth record in Krubera - near the Black Sea coast. Then a second team went deeper. The Ukrainian speleologists needed a staggering 14 days to reach the siphon at the end of the cave. A number of endemic fauna has been found at all levels of depth within the cave, including spiders, scorpions, beetles, as well as stygofauna like shrimps and amphipods.

Some of the spelunkers had to dive through frigid water (two degrees Celsius) in order to reach the deepest sections of the cave. While they were in the cave, the explorers were subject to some unexpected developments: a flash underground flood, forcing them to remain isolated from any contacts for about 30 hours. Its a limestone formation dating back to the Age of Dinosaurs.

The Arabika massif in the Western Caucasus constitutes one of the largest karst massifs on Earth, but despite its enormous potential to scientists, the area, including Krubera Cave, has been woefully under-explored. One of the reasons is the remoteness of the area, which is only accessible for up to four months a year, but the main obstacle for scientists have been the numerous political conflicts in Abkhazia, which continue until today.




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