Plunging to the depths in the world’s deepest cave

Ukrainian speleologists (cave explorers) have been to an extreme depth underground to confirm the world’s deepest cave.

The Krubera Cave, which is also known as the Voronja Cave, and colloquially known as Crow’s Cave is located in the Arabika Massif in the Western Caucasus Mountains in the country of Georgia.

For the geologically-minded, the Arabika Massif is one of the largest high mountain limestone karst massifs, and it is this limestone characteristic which gives rise to large cave systems.

The Ukrainian expedition has been investigates the cave for many years, and has encountered many problems trying to reach the known bottom of the cave.  As with mountaineering, the group has had to set up various camps at ever lower depths, to allow them to descend in as safe a manner as possible.  The similarity with mountaineering doesn’t stop there either as some of the cavers need to ferry equipment and supplies from the base camp (which is at the top of the climb, rather than the bottom for mountaineering) to the various camps below.     

Problems encountered in caving include darkness, tight passageways, underground water, which can occur in the form of streams, pools, rivers and waterfalls, deep shafts of unknown depths, hypothermia, infections (from things like bat guano which is common in caves), suffocation, rock falls and a particularly nasty psychological condition called The Rapture which is a very extreme reaction to darkness and depth.

In 2007, the group reached a depth of -2,191 metres (-7,188 feet), and the most remarkable aspect is that this depth is underwater.  It took the expedition over one month of exploration underground to reach that level, and it was finally attained during a 46 m dive by Gennadiiy Samokhin, which is a truly amazing feat.

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