“British expedition of speleologists discovered and explored the largest cave in the world, which is barely accessible in the jungle on the border between Vietnam and Laos. Cave is so hidden that it couldn’t be seen even by Google Earth, and local people from superstition does not even enter it”. After reading this old article about this amazing discovery, we have decide to present you the world’s most famous caves. Each one is special about something, whether it’s their depth, size, halls, crystals, or something else.
Son Doong Cave, Vietnam
Son Doong cave (in Vietnamese: Hang Sơn Đoòng, meaning Mountain River Cave) is a cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam. The cave is located near the Laos-Vietnam border. It has a large fast-flowing underground river inside.
The cave was found by a local man named Hồ-Khanh in 1991. The local jungle men were afraid of the cave for the whistling sound it makes from the underground river. However, not until 2009 was it made known to the public when a group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard and Deb Limbert, conducted a survey in Phong Nha-Ke Bang from April 10-14, 2009. Their progress was stopped by a large calcite wall. According to Limbert, this cave is five times larger than the Phong Nha cave, previously considered the biggest cave in Vietnam. The biggest chamber of Son Doong is over five kilometers in length, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide. With these dimensions, Son Doong overtakes Deer Cave in Malaysia to take the title of the world’s largest cave. The cave was named as a World Heritage Site in 2003. (source)
Cave of the Giant Crystals, Mexico
Cave of the Crystals or Giant Crystal Cave (Spanish: Cueva de los Cristales) is a cave connected to the Naica Mine 300 metres (980 ft) deep in Chihuahua, Mexico. The main chamber contains giant selenite crystals, some of the largest natural crystals ever found. The cave’s largest crystal found to date is 11 m (36 ft) in length, 4 m (13 ft) in diameter and 55 tons in weight. The cave is 27 m (89 ft) in length and 9 m (30 ft) in width. The cave is extremely hot with air temperatures reaching up to 58 °C (136 °F) with 90 to 100 percent humidity. The cave is relatively unexplored due to the extreme temperatures and high humidity. Without proper protection people can only endure approximately ten minutes of exposure at a time. (source)
Voronya (Krubera) cave, Abkhazia
The Krubera Cave (or the Voronya Cave sometimes spelled 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, Georgia.
The difference in the altitude of the cave’s entrance and its deepest explored point is 2,191 ± 20 metres (7,188 ± 66 ft). It became the deepest-known cave in the world in 2001 when the expedition of the Ukrainian Speleological Association reached a depth of 1,710 m (5,610 ft) which exceeded the depth of the previously deepest cave, Lamprechtsofen, in the Austrian Alps, by 80 m. In 2004, for the first time in the history of speleology, the Ukrainian Speleological Association expedition reached a depth greater than 2,000 m, and explored the cave to -2,080 m (−6,824 ft). The current maximum depth of 2,191 m was reached during a 46 m dive by Gennadiiy Samokhin into the terminal sump during the expedition of the Ukrainian Speleological Association in August–September 2007. The cave remains the only known cave on Earth deeper than 2,000 metres. (source)
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, USA
Mammoth Cave National Park is a U.S. National Park in central Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world. The official name of the system is the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System for the ridge under which the cave has formed. The park was established as a national park on July 1, 1941. It became a World Heritage Site on October 27, 1981, and an international Biosphere Reserve on September 26, 1990.
The park’s 52,835 acres (21,382 ha) are located primarily in Edmonson County, Kentucky, with small areas extending eastward into Hart County and Barren County. It is centered around the Green River, with a tributary, the Nolin River, feeding into the Green just inside the park. With over 390 miles (630 km) of passageways it is by far the world’s longest known cave system, being well over twice as long as the second longest cave system, which is South Dakota’s Jewel Cave with just over 150 miles (240 km) of known passageways. (source)
Optymistychna Cave, Ukraine
Optymistychna (Ukrainian: Оптимістична; meaning “optimistic”) is a gypsum cave located near the village of Korolivka, Borschiv Raion, Ternopil Oblast. As of 2005, it has 230 km of mapped passageways and is the largest cave complex in Eurasia. By some other sources it is referred as having about 133 miles (214 kilometers) of surveyed passageways, that makes it the third-longest cave in the world, after Mammoth Cave and Jewel Cave and the longest gypsum cave in the world.
The entire cave lies under a 2 kilometer square area in a layer of Upper Tertiary gypsum that is less than 20 meters thick. The passages tend to be low and often choked with mud. They comprise a dense network on several levels, making Optymistychna what is known as a “maze cave.”
The cave complex was discovered by the speleologists of the Lviv speleological club “Cyclope” in 1966 who already over 40 years study the complex. There have been more than 50 expeditions since then, but exploration has slowed significantly in recent years, and very little surveying is currently being done. The cave is located very close to Ozernaya, the eleventh-longest cave in the world at 75 miles (122 kilometers), but the two caves have not yet been found to be connected. In 2008 the cave won the special nomination as the Natural Wonder of Ukraine. (source)
Toca da Boa Vista, Brasil
Toca da Boa Vista is the longest known cave in the Southern hemisphere. It is located within the municipality of Campo Formoso in Bahia State, Brazil and had 84 km of mapped passages in 1999. It is now reported to have 102 km of passages, which makes it the 15th longest cave in the world. Continued exploration faces typical temperatures of 30 C. (source)
The Eisriesenwelt Caves, Austria
The Eisriesenwelt (German for “World of the Ice Giants”) is a natural limestone ice cave located in Werfen, Austria, about 40 km south of Salzburg. The cave is inside the Hochkogel mountain in the Tennengebirge section of the Alps. It is the largest ice cave in the world, extending more than 42km and visited by about 200,000 tourists every year. (source)
Vroglavica Cave, Slovenia
The Vrtoglavica Cave is a cave located inside the Kanin mountain in the Slovenian part of the Julian Alps, near to the border between Slovenia and Italy. The cave holds the record for having the deepest single vertical drop (pitch) of any cave on Earth at a depth of 603 metres (1,978 ft). (source)
Ox Bel Ha Cave System, Mexico
Ox Bel Ha (from Mayan meaning “Three Paths of Water”) is a cave system in Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is the longest explored underwater cave in the world. As of August 2010 the surveyed length is 182.1 kilometers (113.2 mi) of underwater passages. (source)
Wind Cave, New Mexico, USA
Wind Cave National Park is a United States national park 10 miles (16 km) north of the town of Hot Springs in western South Dakota. Established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, it was the seventh U.S. National Park and the first cave to be designated a national park anywhere in the world. The cave is notable for its displays of the calcite formation known as boxwork. Approximately 95 percent of the world’s discovered boxwork formations are found in Wind Cave. Wind Cave is also known for its frostwork. The cave is also considered a three-dimensional maze cave, recognized as the densest (most passage volume per mi3) cave system in the world. The cave passed Hölloch cave in Switzerland on February 11, 2006 to become fourth-longest in the world with 119.58 miles (192.45 km) of explored cave passageways. The cave’s current length is 131.04 miles (210.89 km), with an average of four new miles of cave being discovered each year. Above ground, the park includes the largest remaining natural mixed-grass prairie in the United States. (source)
Lascaux Caves, France
The Lascaux cave system was discovered in 1940 in southern France. Lascaux is famous for its cave paintings. The cave was closed to the public in 1963 due to deterioration in the paintings from the excess carbon dioxide produced by the visitors. You can now only see a virtual tour of the many rooms and cave paintings. (source)
Pierre Saint Martin, France/Spain
The Pierre Saint Martin cave is in France and Spain and is famous for its incredible depth of 4,400 feet. It is one of the world’s largest caves. (source)
Ochtinska Aragonite Cave, Slovakia
Ochtinská Aragonite Cave is a unique aragonite cave situated in southern Slovakia, near Rožňava. Although only 300 m long, it is famous for its rare aragonite filling. There are only three aragonite caves discovered in the world so far. In the so-called Milky Way Hall, the main attraction of the cave, white branches and clusters of aragonite shine like stars in the Milky Way. The cave was discovered by chance by Jan Bystricky in 1954 and opened to the public in 1972. Along with other caves of the Slovak Karst, it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list as a component of Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst site. (source)