Often when one thinks of the Earth’s surface, one imagines it to be completely homogeneous, perhaps because of the constant images of a perfectly spherical planet. However, it is known that it is not a flawless sphere. It has previously been described as having an elliptical shape, although it is more accurate to say that it is a geoid. This implies that it has very protruding reliefs and also large indentations, a gigantic ball with large differences in its surface. Everest is well known for having the highest altitude on the entire surface of the earth, but its counterpart, the deepest cave in the world called Krubera-Voronya, is largely unknown.
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Where is the Voronya Cave?
Located in Arabika, Georgia, the Krúbera-Voronya Cave is the deepest cave in the world and the crevice that comes closest to the heart of the Earth. It is so far into the bowels of the planet that man has not been able to explore it in depth. When it was discovered in 1960, explorers did not venture deeper than 180 meters. Since then, however, the records have been extended more and more.
Today it has become a challenge for the most experienced speleologists who try to reach the bottom. However, it seems that the cave is so majestic that even having reached a depth of 2,191 meters, they have not managed to discover its end.
But interesting facts about the Voronya Cave have been discovered. The expeditions have revealed that it is not a linear cave as many would imagine. Rather, it is a subway labyrinth full of complicated paths leading to various false bottoms. It is so complex that to explore it, underground camps have been set up to decipher its mysteries.
The first team of speleologists to achieve this milestone was a Ukrainian team that in the late 1990s set up camps at -700 meters below the earth’s surface. Later the same Ukrainian team managed to reach 1,200 meters below the ground and set up a second camp. Once the 1,000-meter barrier was crossed, the curiosity of cavers from all over the world turned into an obsession to reach the end of the deepest cave in the world.
Little by little, various teams from all over the world discovered the paths to continue descending, as there are many areas where there is no way to continue. They have also discovered subway lakes more than 50 meters deep, which make it even more difficult to search for the bottom. In addition to this, there are extremely narrow stretches that, if attempted to be crossed, any rescue would be in vain.
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Despite all these dangers, a new all-time record was set at the end of 2004. The UkrSA team managed to reach -2080 meters, a point is known as ‘Game Over’ because it is the lowest point discovered so far and where apparently no further progress is possible. However, this has not impeded Gennadiy Samokhin, who holds the record for the longest descent in the Voronya cave.
Shamokin continues the journey not on foot, but using scuba equipment to dive into one of the lakes. A feat that allowed him to reach 2,191 meters below the earth’s surface, which is the most current record. As is to be expected, it is not an easy path, it involves living for some time in the subway camps, crossing straits up to 40 centimeters wide that, if flooded, would mean death. Even diving and then dodging the icy waterfalls that form as a result of the rain.
Although all these challenges have been overcome, speleologists are still not sure where the end of the cave is. It is likely that this geological wonder still has much more to amaze us. Just take a look at the map of Voronya, which seems to have no end.
Text and photos courtesy of Ecoosfera