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Israeli researchers say Sodom salt cave is international’s longest

MOUNT SODOM, ISRAEL – Israeli researchers stated Thursday they have surveyed what they now believe to be the sector’s longest salt cave, a community of twisting passageways at the southern tip of the useless Sea.

A lately finished survey of the Malham Cave determined the labyrinthine cavern stretches greater than 10 kilometers (6 miles) in duration. That puts it nicely beforehand of Iran’s Namakdan Cave, formerly concept to be the longest salt cave.

The survey was carried out by way of the Hebrew university of Jerusalem and a collection of Israeli, Bulgarian and worldwide volunteers.

Boaz Langford, a researcher on the college’s Caves research middle, and Antoniya Vlaykova, a Bulgarian cave explorer from the ecu Speleological Federation, headed the day trip.

“what is unique about this cave, rather than different salt caves in the world, is that it’s the longest inside the global,” Langford said, resting in a chamber of the cave dubbed the “wedding hall” for its salt stalactites.

Langford and Vlaykova stated they plan to put up the whole map of the give way a expert guide within the coming months.

there is no legitimate file for the longest salt cave, and such designations are commonly determined through consensus amongst cave researchers after an underground chamber is mapped and posted.

Namakdan, which is ready 6 kilometers (4 miles) in length, become diagnosed as the longest salt cave after a look at by using Czech and Iranian scientists in 2006.

Salt caves are uncommon and rare geological functions. because salt is distinctly water soluble, large salt deposits do no longer usually live on long on the floor. only a handful of salt caves are larger than a kilometer (half of a mile) in duration. Salt caves tend to simplest exist in fairly arid areas, like the place around the lifeless Sea, that is placed at the lowest factor on earth and is too salty to assist animal existence.

The dead Sea and Mount Sodom had been fashioned by way of tectonic interest, the shifting of the Earth’s plates at the northern give up of the 6,000-kilometer (four,000-mile) Afro-Arabian Rift Valley. Over tens of millions of years, successive flooding of the deep melancholy lay down thick layers of salt.

“The salt layers are squeezed out from the sub-floor, in which they are deposited a few kilometers underground, and at the same time as being squeezed out they shape a mountain, which is growing still today, at a price of about one centimeter in step with 12 months,” stated Amos Frumkin, a Hebrew university geologist who has studied the cave for many years.

The Malham Cave’s important outlet yawns no longer some distance from a salt pillar named “Lot’s wife,” after the biblical individual who was petrified for looking again at the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. on the mountainside above, Langford, Vlaykova and their colleagues have diagnosed as a minimum 19 openings wherein seasonal floods have percolated thru Mount Sodom’s rock salt to shape the cave.

Yoav Negev, founder of the Israeli Cave Explorers club, said that over years, his organization and a total of 80 volunteers from 9 countries spent around 1,500 workdays measuring and mapping the cavern’s recesses.

“it is above and beyond what we expected,” he said.

Efraim Cohen, one of the Hebrew college cave explorers, described the procedure of locating the cave’s entrances from the floor, rappelling down into surface shafts, squeezing through tight passages, and measuring every of the cavern’s serpentine branches with lasers.

despite the difficult surroundings, he stated the cave’s splendor makes it worth it.

“all the stalagmites and stalactites, their splendor, their coloration — they are certainly white, they’re shining, they’re splendid,” Cohen said.

Radiocarbon dating of wooden fragments discovered within the cave have helped date its formation to round 7,000 years in the past, making it extraordinarily younger via speleological standards.

“The purpose why it is so young is as it’s made from salt,” Frumkin explained. “Limestone caves are an awful lot slower to shape. they are usually plenty older. but this one is developing very speedy so it’s one of the youngest caves in the world.”

Frumkin stated that studying the cave’s formation has supplied researchers with data approximately the weather of the region over the last 7,000 years, and how that has affected the emergence of civilization. Jericho, one among global’s first towns and an epicenter for the improvement of agriculture, is round 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the Malham Cave.

“because the salt is so soluble, which means that every change in the climate leaves its mark in the cave,” Frumkin said. “If there may be greater water, more rainfall, the cave is enlarged, and lifeless Sea level modifications, and this makes a big distinction in the morphology of the cave.”

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