Or “Hollow of the Shannon”. This is Tony after he had been diving there.
The pool is the legendary source of the river Shannon. According to Wikipedia, the Shannon is named after Sionnan, who was the granddaughter of Manannán mac Lir, the god of the sea. She came to this spot to eat the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, which was planted by the druids. As she began to eat it, the waters of the pool sprang up and overwhelmed her. She was drawn down into the pool and its water began to flow over the land, forming the River Shannon.
The resurgence has been dived most recently by Al Kennedy, Paul Doig, and Artur Kozłowski.
Malham Cave in Israel’s Mount Sodom has now been surveyed at over 10km long, making it the world’s longest salt cave. This is an account of the expedition by the leader of the 2019 mapping team, Boaz Langford of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
WORLD’S LONGEST SALT CAVE DISCOVERED IN ISRAEL
After Holding the Title for 13 Years, Iran Cedes Title to
“Following biblical recounting of Lot’s Wife who was turned into a pillar of salt, Israel’s Dead Sea region is now famous for a second salt phenomenon: Malham Cave, the world’s longest salt cave.
thirteen years, this title was held by Iran’s Cave of the Three Nudes (3N) on
Qeshm Island. Now, an international expedition led by the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Cave Research Center (CRC), Israel Cave Explorers Club, and Bulgaria’s Sofia Speleo Club, along
with 80 cavers from nine countries, has successfully mapped the Malham salt
cave in the Dead Sea’s Mount Sodom which, at 10 kilometers long, now bears the
title of world’s longest salt cave.
caves are living things, geologically speaking. They form mostly in
desert regions with salt outcrops, such as Chile’s Atacama Desert, Iran’s Qeshm
Island and Israel’s Dead Sea. What helps them form is water—even
arid climates see the occasional rainstorm.
When it does rain, water rushes down cracks in the surface, dissolving salt and
creating semi-horizontal channels along the way. After all the rainwater
drains out, these dried out “river beds” remain and salt
caves are formed.
this description is Israel’s Mount Sodom, an 11km
long mountain that sits 170 meters below sea level at the southwestern tip of
the Dead Sea. Underneath a thin layer of cap rock, this mountain is
made entirely of salt (just like the kind we season our food with). Two factors protect this mountain from
dissolving away: the sturdy cap rock that covers its salt, and the arid climate
of the Negev Desert. Mount Sodom gets roughly 50mm of rain a year,
mostly in short but dramatic rain bursts. As Professor Amos Frumkin, director of the CRC at HU’s Institute of Earth
Sciences, explained, “The Malham Salt Cave is a river cave. Water from a
surface stream flowed underground and dissolved the salt, creating caves – a
process that is still going on when there is strong
rain over Mount Sodom about once a year.” In this way, the Malham
Salt Cave is “alive” and continues to grow.
was initially discovered by the CRC back in the 1980’s. Later, tens of
CRC expeditions surveyed Mount Sodom and found more than 100 salt different caves inside, the longest of which measured
5,685 meters. Subsequent carbon-14 tests dated the cave as 7,000 years
old, give or take, and successive rainstorms created new passages for the
cavers to explore. When the international expeditions returned to Malham in 2018 and 2019, their surveys discovered the
cave’s record-breaking, double-digit length. “Thirty years ago, when we
surveyed Malham, we used tape measures and compasses. Now we have laser
technology that beams measurements right to our
iPhones,” Frumkin recalled.
Notably, Malham is the world’s first salt cave to reach a length in the double-digits. By comparison, Iran’s Qeshm Island salt cave, now the world’s secondlargest salt cave, measures only 6,580 meters. In addition to its length, the Malham Cave contains a stunning array of salt stalactites and salt crystals within its chambers. These salt icicles hang from the cave’s ceiling and grow longer and fatter as each drop of water rolls down before evaporating into the salty air.
the survey team is processing final data from the new Malham Cave surveys to
create an electronic map of the cave and to publish its findings.
international cave expeditions that worked together to map Malham Cave include
Israel’s Cave Explorers Club, HU’s Cave Research
Center, and Bulgaria’s Sofia Caving Club & Speleo School. The survey
team included cavers from Israel, Bulgaria, France, United Kingdom, Croatia,
Romania, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Member of HU’s Cave Research Center and head of the 2019 Malham Cave Mapping
Expedition: “Israel’s salt caves are a global phenomenon. My
colleagues around the world are always amazed at what we find here.
Returning to survey Malham Cave allowed us to reveal
its full dimensions and rank Israel as first among the world’s longest salt
Yoav Negev, Chairman, Israel Cave Explorers Club and project leader
of the Malham Cave Mapping Expedition: “This entire project began with a
call to Antoniya Vlaykova at Bulgaria’s Sofia Caving
Club & Speleo School. From the very beginning they showed real
interest in collaborating with us and in taking on a central role in the
project. Soon we had a 50-member delegation—half international, half Israeli.
The Malham Cave is a one of kind expedition that
demonstrated the power of international caving delegations coming together to
achieve something remarkable. The fact that we came away with a new world
record is icing on the cake.”
Member of HU’s Cave Research Center: “Mapping Malham
Cave took hard work. We cavers worked 10-hour days underground, crawling
through icy salt channels, narrowly avoiding salt stalactites and jaw-dropping
salt crystals. Down there it felt like another planet. Our
next and final step is to map the tightest spots and
the most difficult ones to reach. When we’re all done, it’s likely we’ll
add a few hundred meters to Malham’s impressive 10 kilometer length.”
2018 and 2019 Malham Cave expeditions were supported by the Bulgarian Federation of Speleology, the Ministry of
Youth and Sports in Bulgaria, the European Federation of Speleology (FSE) and
its sponsors Aventure Verticale, Korda’s, Scurion, and Bulgaria Air.
The caves at Creswell Crags are well-known for their ice age art, but visitors have now identified hundreds of scratches and lettering as being apotropaic marks dating from the 16th and 17th centuries – placed there to guard against evil spirits rising up from the underworld.