Researchers Want To Uncover Earth’s Deepest Cave

Researchers Want To Uncover Earth’s Deepest Cave

Chevé Cave in Mexico may steal the title of world’s deepest cave – currently held by Krubera Cave in the Western Caucasus mountains in Georgia (1.36 miles deep or 2.18 km) – if it turns out to be 1.6 miles deep (2.57 km).

Scientists say that there are a lot of caves across the globe, which have yet to be discovered. There could be deeper caves out there that descend even further into the Earth than the Chevé Cave.

Karst terrain or topography is the best one to look for such caves because this landscape is formed from the dissolution of dolomite, limestone, and gypsum; it is also known for its underground drainage system with caves, dolines, and sinkholes. The vast terrain covers about twenty to fifty percent of our planet’s surface.

George Veni, executive director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute, said that there are surely tens of thousands of undiscovered caves out these.

Currently, the technology needed to locate extremely deep caves is quite limited, researchers say. For instance, there is the electrical resistivity, a sensing technology in which an instrument looks for fluctuations that would indicate the presence of a cave and also measures the movement of electricity through the ground.

However, this method only works to a depth of approximately 800 feet (about 243 metres), according to Lewis Land, a hydrologist for the National Cave and Karst Research Institute.

Another method would be seismic reflection, a technology that is typically used to prospect for gas and oil deposits. This technology cannot spot passageways that are only a few feet wide.

Joel Despain, chairman of the International Exploration Committee of the National Speleological Society of the U.S., stated that when it comes to caves, remote sensing technologies are quite limited. According to Despain, thermal imaging can also help find cave entrances.

The most reliable method is actually a low-tech one. To determine the potential depth of a cave, researchers usually drop non-toxic dye into cave streams, which then emerges at springs that are at lower elevations, far downstream.

Alexander Klimchouk, co-leader of the group that explored Krubera in 2004 and a researcher at Ukraine’s Institute of Geological Sciences, said that both Chevé and Krubera (which has not been fully explored) may have similar depths.

Image Source: ngm