Friday, December 31, 2010

Free caving ebook: Vertical by Al Warild

You can download the 2007 edition of Vertical by Al Warild for free on Mark Passerby's website.

This book handles most caving techniques, from basic to advanced. It is clearly written and nicely illustrated (190p.).

This is the American equivalent of the well known "Alpine caving techniques" from Marbach.


Despite the fact that it is primarily aimed towards an American audience, this 2007 revision also contains most European alpine caving techniques.

Book contents:



Thursday, December 30, 2010

Was Israel the birthplace of modern man?


Findings from Tel Aviv University archaeologists locate remains of Homo sapiens in Israel 400,000 years ago

It has long been believed that modern man emerged from the continent of Africa 200,000 years ago. Now Tel Aviv University archaeologists have uncovered evidence thatHomo sapiens roamed the land now called Israel as early as 400,000 years ago ― the earliest evidence for the existence of modern man anywhere in the world.

The findings were discovered in the Qesem Cave, a pre-historic site located near Rosh Ha'ayin that was first excavated in 2000. Prof. Avi Gopher and Dr. Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology, who run the excavations, and Prof. Israel Hershkowitz of the university's Department of Anatomy and Anthropology and Sackler School of Medicine, together with an international team of scientists, performed a morphological analysis on eight human teeth found in the Qesem Cave.

This analysis, which included CT scans and X-rays, indicates that the size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern man. The teeth found in the Qesem Cave are very similar to other evidence of modern man from Israel, dated to around 100,000 years ago, discovered in the Skhul Cave in the Carmel and Qafzeh Cave in the Lower Galilee near Nazareth. The results of the researchers' findings are being published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lascaux: virtual cave visit

In 1940 the cave of Lascaux was discovered by four teenagers. The cave is located in the French region of Dordogne and hosts more then 2000 cave paintings from the Paleolithicum: animals, humans but also more abstract drawings.

These cave paintings are incredibly well preserved and give us a good idea about the life at that time. The paintings however are threatened by bacteria and fungal infections. The government closed the cave in 1963 in an attempt to save the paintings from further deterioration.

A virtual visit to the cave however is still possible: by clicking on the picture below you can discover the different panels and find additional info about each painting.

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lascaux cave: History

Lascaux is the setting of a complex of caves in southwestern France famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings. The original caves are located near the village of Montignac, in the department of Dordogne. They contain some of the best-known Upper Paleolithic art. These paintings are estimated to be 17,300 years old.

 They primarily consist of primitive images of large animals, most of which are known from fossil evidence to have lived in the area at the time. In 1979, Lascaux was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list along with other prehistoric sites in the Vézère valley.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tourists to Spend New Year's Eve in Miraculous Bulgarian Cave

Tourists and speleologists have been increasingly
enthusiastic about the Yagodinska Cave.
Cave-lovers from a tourist club called "Rodopeya" are going to welcome the new year in the Yagodinska Cave in Southern Bulgaria.

The Yagodinska Cave is located in the Rhodope Mountain; it is long 10 km and has three levels, of which the lowest one is equipped with electricity and fit for organized tourism with 1.1-km path, and special entrance tunnels.

The first level of the Yagodinska Cave is a valuable archaeological site as in the 4th millennium BC it was inhabited by pottery makers with had special ovens.

The cave is renowned for its unique forms and rocks with different colors; it features a permanent temperature of 6 degrees Celsius.

In the recent years, speleologists from the Rodopeya Club and tourists who arrive to the nearby villages of Yagodina and Buynovo hold New Year's celebrations inside the cave. A number of wedding ceremonies have also been held there recently.

The Yagodinska Cave is one of Bulgaria's "100 National Tourist Sites"; in 2010, it was visited by 51 000 tourists from Bulgaria and abroad.

Source: Novinite

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fossil finger bone yields genome of a previously unknown human relative


Study suggests 'Denisovans' shared the stage with early modern humans and Neanderthals and interbred with ancestors of modern Melanesians

A 30,000-year-old finger bone found in a cave in southern Siberia came from a young girl who was neither an early modern human nor a Neanderthal, but belonged to a previously unknown group of human relatives who may have lived throughout much of Asia during the late Pleistocene epoch. Although the fossil evidence consists of just a bone fragment and one tooth, DNA extracted from the bone has yielded a draft genome sequence, enabling scientists to reach some startling conclusions about this extinct branch of the human family tree, called "Denisovans" after the cave where the fossils were found.

The findings are reported in the December 23 issue of Nature by an international team of scientists, including many of the same researchers who earlier this year published the Neanderthal genome. Coauthor Richard Green of the University of California, Santa Cruz, played a lead role in the analysis of the genome sequence data, for which a special portal was designed on the UCSC Genome Browser. The team was led by Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Genome of extinct Siberian cave-dweller linked to modern-day humans


Sequencing of ancient DNA reveals new hominin population that is neither Neanderthal nor modern human
Researchers have discovered evidence of a distinct group of "archaic" humans existing outside of Africa more than 30,000 years ago at a time when Neanderthals are thought to have dominated Europe and Asia. But genetic testing shows that members of this new group were not Neanderthals, and they interbred with the ancestors of some modern humans who are alive today.

The journal Nature reported the finding this week. The National Science Foundation's Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences Division partially funded the research.

An international team of scientists led by Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, used a combination of genetic data and dental analysis to identify a previously unknown population of early humans, whom the researchers call "Denisovans." The name was taken from Denisova Cave in southern Siberia where archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences recovered a bone in 2008.

Genetic sequencing of DNA extracted from a finger bone of a 5-10-year-old girl from the cave revealed that she was neither Neanderthal nor a modern human, but shared an ancient origin with Neanderthals. The genetic analysis also showed she had a very different history since splitting from Neanderthals, the researchers concluded.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

15 km drink Avalon

On Friday december 17th, our caving club (grotto), SC Avalon, gave a party for the discovery of more than 15 km of virgin cave passage in Belgium since the 80's.

Despite the bad weather (snow) and slippery roads, 63 persons turned up. Not only members from VVS, but also people from UBS and Speleo Nederland joined.



Our long-time chairman, Paul De Bie, gave a nice speech and a short presentation about some of the more important / bigger discoveries. (which you can download here).

Exploration in Belgium is really not the same as in some other countries. People were awed by the immense amount of labour and the tons and tons of mud, pebbles and rock that had to be moved. Most of the times the digs don't end up revealing anything spectacular, but once in a while a real beauty is discovered (like the "Grotte du Bois de Waerimont" and the "Grotte des Emotions"). You can find the complete list of discoveries on this page.

After the presentation people could enjoy the exposition with some nice pictures and surveys of these discoveries, as well as some drawings and paintings from Annette Van Houtte.



A cabinet filled with archeological and paleontological objects discovered during various digs was also getting a lot of attention. Especially the skull of a cave bear (Ursus speleaus) was impressive.



If your interested in exploration and you want to follow us working towards the next discovery, I can recommend our grotto's blog: http://scavalon.blogspot.com

Update 28/12/2010: As of today a huge new picture gallery is available here, covering not only the clubs discoveries but also some pictures from visits to some of the most beautiful caves in the world.

A special word of thanks goes to our grotto's sponsors Proviron, De Berghut and Chronos.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Journées 2010 de Spéléologie Scientifique

The JSS 2010, an annual cave science conference organised by the Belgian Caving Federation (UBS) and the Belgian Center for Karst Studies held place in Han-sur-Lesse on 11 and 12 december.

This years main topic was the "VMR". The VMR is a book titled "Les Cavernes et les Rivières Souterraines de la Belgique" published by E. Van Den Broeck, E.A. Martel and E. Rahir in 1910. It's a huge book in two parts that described all the caves and underground rivers in Belgium for the first time on a scientific manner. Up until today it's never been equaled. Though there are many new insights and discoveries it's still a reference book for all who are studying the Belgian underground, whether as a scientist or a caver. As it is quite rare and wanted, the price is skyrocketing (I've seen it go for over 300 EUR). Luckily the book has been completely digitized and will be available somewhere in 2011.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Vleermuizen in winterslaap

In België en Nederland komen zo'n 20 verschillende vleermuizen voor (gladneuzen en hoefijzerneuzen), waarvan een aantal zeer zeldzaam is.
(ↄ) Public domain - Bat on ceiling
Omdat er in de koude wintermaanden amper insecten zijn, houden ze een winterslaap: Hun lichaamstemperatuur daalt tot 5°C en ze vertragen hun ademhaling, hartritme en stofwisseling. Naast steengroeven en holle bomen zijn onze grotten een van de plekken bij uitstek om de winter door te brengen: ze zijn koel en vochtig, en gegarandeerd vorstvrij.

Voor verschillende vleermuissoorten, zoals de ingekorven vleermuis, vormt verstoring en het ongeschikt worden van overwinteringsplaatsen, zoals forten en ijskelder, een belangrijke bedreiging.  Om de populaties niet te verstoren tijdens hun winterslaap, worden volgende grotten voorzien van een extra slot, zodanig dat ze niet toegankelijk zijn van 1 november tot 31 maart:


Adzeux (Chantoir d')
Agouloir (Grotte de l')
Bebronne (Grotte de)
Blaireaux (Trou des)
Bohon (Grotte de)
Brialmont (Grotte de)
Casino (Trou n°2 du)
Claminforge (Grotte de)
Comblain (Réseaux sauvages de l'Abîme de)
Deux Copines (Grotte des)
Emotions (Grotte des)
Faisan (Trou du)
Feuilles (Trou aux)
Fonds-de-Forêt (Grottes de)
Fontaine de Rivire (Grotte de)
Freyr (Grotte de)
Géromont Grand Banc (carrière du)
Grandchamps (Chantoir de)
Heinrichs (Grotte)
Maillard (Trou)
Manto - Saint Etienne (Réseau)
Margaux (Grotte)
Marique (trou)
Maye Crevé (Trou du)
Monceau (Grotte de ) - (RND)
Moneuse (Grotte de)
Nou-Maulin (Trou du)
Nutons (Grotte du Chantoir des)
Palan (Trou du)
Pont d'Avignon (Grotte du)
Ramioul (Grotte de)
Remouchamps (Réseau sauvage de la Grotte de)
Riga (Trou)
Sarrasins (Trou des)
Sècheval (Chantoir de)
Surdents (Grotte des)
Tchampacane (Grotte de)
Trotti-aux-Fosses (Gouffre du)
Trou qui Fume
Waérimont
 (Bois de  - Trou de l'Ambre)
Walou (Grotte)
Wuinant (Trou)
Zinc (Trou au)


(Bron: http://www.speleo.be/ubs)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Speleofoto van het jaar

Nieuwe fotowedstrijd, georganiseerd door de "Lithuanian Cavers", open voor iedereen.

 © speleo.lt
Reglement:

  • Foto's kunnen ingediend worden van 1 tot 31 december 2010 via mail naar photo@speleo.lt
  • Onderwerp: alles mag en kan, zolang het speleo-gerelateerd is (Grot, concreties, materiaal, ...)
  • Maximum 15 inzendingen per persoon
  • Minimum 2000 pixels voor de lange zijde van de foto
  • Vermeld duidelijk in het Engels: Onderwerp (max 300 karakters), categorie, plaats en datum van wanneer de foto genomen is en natuurlijk je eigen gegevens (Naam, voornaam, adres, land en emailadres en tel nr)
  • Foto's worden vanaf 01/01/2011 online geplaatst op http://galerija.speleo.lt/v/fotokonkursai/ alwaar het publiek ook kan stemmen. Een 5-koppige professionele jury kiest de beste foto, rekening houdend met de internetstemmen.
  • De uitslag wordt bekend gemaakt op 16 februari 2011.


Bekijk de inzendingen van vorige jaren: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Bron: Speleo.lt

Sunday, December 5, 2010

7 Bulgarians Safe and Sound after Rescue from Flooded Cave

The rescue operation to free four adults and three teenagers who have been stranded in the Duhlata cave in western Bulgaria for two days, ended successfully late on Sunday.

The accident occurred after Saturday torrential rains and rising underground waters flooded thecave's lower passages.

The rescue teams have worked all through the night using heavy equipment such as excavators. The head of the operation told Darik radio he was optimistic regarding the outcome, adding this could be an unprecedented rescue effort in Bulgaria over its large scale.

The four adults are believed to be experienced in speleology with over 20 years of practice and to have all basics to survive inside, along with the teenagers, for several days. Rescuers further said the stranded people are in a safe part of the cave.

Nevertheless, Civil Defense pointed out it is reckless to not watch the weather forecast before undertaking such adventures.

The seven people entered the cave at about 8 pm Friday night. The kids are aged 11, 13 and 14, and are known to be teenage climbers. They are from Sofia, Pernik, and Karlovo.

The Duhlata cave is long 18 km and is known as the more complex underground labyrinth in Bulgaria; it has seven levels. It is near the village of Bosnek, alongside theStruma River.

The cave is secured with a door of metal bars but the speleologists received the key for the door from the mayor of the nearby village, not expecting that the torrential rains will affect their trip.

Mass Rescue Effort to Free Cave-Stranded Bulgarian Adults, Teens

Civil Defense teams have worked round-the-clock overnight to free the
7 people stranded in a cave in western Bulgaria.
The rescue operation to free four adults and three teenagers who have beenstranded in the Duhlata cave in western Bulgaria for 24 hours now is continuing, Civil Defense informed Sunday.

The incident occurred after the Saturday torrential rains and rising underground waters flooded the cave's lower passages.

According to the report, there is one rescue team inside the cave and two more on standby outside. They have worked all through the night using heavy equipment such as excavators. The head of the operation told Darik radio he was optimistic regarding the outcome, adding this could be an unprecedented rescue effort in Bulgaria over its large scale.

The four adults are believed to be experienced in speleology with over 20 years of practice and to have all basics to survive inside, along with the teenagers, for several days. Rescuers further say the stranded people are in a safe part of the cave. They hope to be able to reach them by noon Sunday.

Nevertheless, Civil Defense point out it is reckless to not watch the weather forecast before undertaking such adventures.

The Civil Defense Head, Stefko Burdzhev is travelling to the incident's location Sunday.

Source: Novinite

Saturday, December 4, 2010

7 Bulgarians Stranded in Flooded Cave

The entrance of the Duhlata cave looks deceptively small.
It is secured with a door of metal bars.
Four adults and three teenagers have been stranded in the Duhlata cave in Western Bulgaria after the torrential rains and rising underground waters flooded its lower passages.

The seven people entered the cave at about 8 pm Friday night; they are known to be speleologists. The kids are aged 11, 13 and 14, and are known to be teenage climbers. They are from Sofia, Pernik, and Karlovo.

The Duhlata cave is long 18 km and is known as the more complex underground labyrinth in Bulgaria; it has seven levels. It is near the village of Bosnek, alongside theStruma River.

The cave is secured with a door of metal bars but the speleologists received the key for the door from the mayor of the nearby village, not expecting that the torrential rains will affect their trip.

The rescue units of experienced cave explorers are certain that the strandedpeople are safe because even if the low passages of the cave are flooded, it also has several higher floors where they probably found refuge.

The rescue units got a bulldozer to start smashing the rocks at the site of water springs starting at one side of the cave in order to release more water from thecave passages.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cops recover large cache of arms from cave in J&K

Delhi Police on Wednesday claimed to have recovered a large cache of arms and ammunitions from a cave in a forest in Jammu and Kashmir following a trail given by a "most wanted" Hizb militant who was arrested here last month.

Acting on the information, a joint team of Special Cell and JK Police on November 25 recovered a AK-56 rifle, four magazines, 120 rounds, a hand grenade, two matrix, documents, diary and combat gun pouch (Bandolier) from a cave in Richbagla forest in Rajouri, Additional DCP (Special Cell) Shibhesh Singh said.

After evading arrest for nearly a decade, Hizbul Mujahideen's self-styled divisional commander Mohammed Abdullah Inquilabi referred to as 'Mr Surrender' was arrested in Delhi on November 14.

During interrogation, Singh said, Inquilabi told investigators that during his school days he came in contact with a Maulavi in PoK, who motivated him to join militancy.

"The Maulavi introduced him to leader of Peer Panjal Regiment of Hizbul Mujahideen in PoK. After undergoing training in weapon handling in PoK, he came to JK along with other militants.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vélez Blanco, the Indalo and the Chaman (Brujo)

Many people probably know that the symbol or logo for the province of Almería is the Indalo. The Indalo looks like a stick man who seems to be carrying a rainbow.

What people may not know is that the Indalo is based on a cave painting on the wall of a cliff face close to the town of Vélez Blanco in the north east corner of the province of Almería. It is said that the paintings are around 4500 years old.

The location of the paintings is a place about 1 km outside Vélez Blanco called Cueva de los Letreros. As well as the Indalo there are also cave paintings of the Chaman or Brujo which has been adopted as the symbol for the town of Vélez Blanco.

Apparently it is believed that the people who created the paintings lived in the valley below the cliff and the area of the paintings was a bit like a ‘church’ for them. They paid visits up to the site and perhaps performed sacrifices on the site (hence the Brujo having a goats head and holding what is thought to be a scythe and a heart).

You might expect the paintings to be inside a cave and well protected. However they are on a cliff wall underneath an overhang.

The paintings are almost always in red and made from a paste of iron deposits. Perhaps red was to signify blood?
 
There were many different symbols including the Brujo, the Indalo, triangles representing woman, symbols for water, lightening, the sun, the moon and various animals.

The site has been robbed of some of the paintings. Also, the paintings are deteriorating due to the action of the weather. Plus the paintings are getting covered up by calcium deposits.

The good news is that there are now people (normally university professors working in their summer break) who are sanctioned by UNESCO to restore the paintings. It is a painstaking and time consuming job. Also, there are not enough experts to do the job so it will be some time before all of the paintings here get restored.

The semi-circle at the top of the Indalo sign may have been a special ceremonial bow that was held up as part of a ritual.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Remains of eight people found in a cave in Navarra

The bones discovered by a group of cavers could be more than 30 years old

Human remains recently found in a cave in the mountains of Navarra could be more than 30 years old, and are believed to be those of six men and two women. The bones were discovered by a group of three speleologists who were caving in the Andía mountain range on November 14 and were examined in situ by forensic experts last week.

They were removed from the site by specialist mountaineers from the Civil Guard and analyses will now be carried out by expert forensic anthropologists.

The National Police said in a press release this Thursday that they have ruled out that the remains are of those persons who have recently been reported missing.

In the Baleares meanwhile, the remains of a human body have been discovered in the boot of a car found parked in the Binidalí area of Mahón, the capital of Menorca. Javier Tejero, the central government representative for Menorca, told Europa Press that the remains could be between two and four years old. It’s understood personal possession were also found in the vehicle.

An autopsy was due to take place in Palma, on Mallorca.

Source: Typically Spanish

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Video: Water erosion (geology)


A short geology video on water erosion (in French and English) by Vercors-TV.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Moa skull auction divides bidders

A Hamilton man has put a rare piece of New Zealand history up for sale on TradeMe.

Glen Brady is auctioning what he claims to be a moa skull, which he says was discovered in the 1950s by his father who was working for a bridge building company in the Waitomo area.

"They were digging the foundations for a bridge and they dug into the side of a cave and plucked the skull out," Brady said.

The artefact was passed on to Brady after his dad passed away at the end of August.

The skull has had 25,000 hits on TradeMe, but some users have criticised the listing, saying the skull should be given to a museum.

"Some people were really, really nasty...I was really surprised at people's opinions on other people's property and what they do with it," he said.

Brady has defended the auction and said museums keep most of their objects locked away. He said it is better to sell it in a private auction, where someone will get to see the skull.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Towards the centre of the Earth expedition 2010. Krubera Voronya

Towards the centre of the Earth expedition 2010. Krubera Voronya cave in Abkhazia/Georgia. Currently the deepest cave in the world.

Photos by Niall Aidas Jolanta Laura and Jesus.

Music by And So I Watched You From Afar - 'The Voiceless' Go to their myspace site for details.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Can Bats And Wind Turbines Mingle?

When it comes to wind turbine fatalities, birds aren’t the only wildlife population affected. Migratory bats, such as the hoary bat–which flies its route along the forested ridges of the eastern U.S.–are especially at risk. This is an issue not only for bat-enthusiasts, but for ecosystems nationwide, as bats are important consumers of mosquitoes and other such pests, as well as dispersers of pollen and seeds for numerous plants.

A new study from Edward Arnett of Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas and colleagues, recently published at Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a journal of the Ecological Society of America, shows that a slight alteration in turbine operation practices can have a big effect in reducing bat fatalities.

Currently, most wind turbines in the U.S. are programmed to “cut in,” or begin rotating and producing power, once wind speed has reached approximately 8 to 9 miles per hour (mph). Researchers found that by raising the cut-in speed just a bit–to roughly 11 mph–bat fatalities were reduced by at least 44 percent, and by as much as 93 percent, with an annual power loss of less than one percent.

“This is the only proven mitigation option to reduce bat kills at this time,” said Arnett, in a statement. “If we want to pursue the benefits associated with wind energy, we need to consider the local ecological impacts that the turbines could cause.” He goes on to note that while he and his colleagues have seen a rise in bat mortality associated with wind energy development, their study shows that a marginal limitation on turbines during the summer and fall months can help to maximize bats’ chances of survival.

Source: Earthtechling

Freediving world record broken by Carlos Coste

Carlos Coste, a Venezuelan freediver, achieved his new record apnea in a Mexican underwater cave, the Cenote Dos Ojos, with a linear swim of 150 meters (dynamic). It took him 2 minutes and 32 seconds.



Moved by religion: Mexican cavefish develop resistance to toxin


A centuries-old religious ceremony of an indigenous people in southern Mexico has led to small evolutionary changes in a local species of fish, according to researchers from Texas A&M University.

Since before the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World, the Zoque people of southern Mexico would venture each year during the Easter season deep into the sulfuric cave Cueva del Azufre to implore their deities for a bountiful rain season. As part of the annual ritual, they release into the cave's waters a distinctive, leaf-bound paste made of lime and the ground-up root of the barbasco plant, a natural fish toxin. Believing the cave's fish to be gifts from their gods, they scoop up their poisoned prey to feed upon until their crops are ready to harvest.

However, a team of researchers led by Dr. Michael Tobler, an evolutionary ecologist at Oklahoma State University, and Dr. Gil Rosenthal, a biology professor at Texas A&M, has discovered that some of these fish have managed not only to develop a resistance to the plant's powerful toxin, but also to pass on their tolerant genes to their offspring, enabling them to survive in the face of otherwise certain death for their non-evolved brethren.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

James Cameron's 3D cave movie: Sanctum


The 3-D action-thriller Sanctum, from executive producer James Cameron, follows a team of underwater cave divers on a treacherous expedition to the largest, most beautiful and least accessible cave system on Earth. When a tropical storm forces them deep into the caverns, they must fight raging water, deadly terrain and creeping panic as they search for an unknown escape route to the sea. Master diver Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh) has explored the South Pacific’s Esa-ala Caves for months. But when his exit is cut off in a flash flood, Frank’s team–including 17-year-old son Josh (Rhys Wakefield) and financier Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd)–are forced to radically alter plans. With dwindling supplies, the crew must navigate an underwater labyrinth to make it out. Soon, they are confronted with the unavoidable question: Can they survive, or will they be trapped forever?

Sanctum will be released in the UK on February 4th 2011.

Trailer:


Official website: http://www.sanctummovie.com/


Monday, November 1, 2010

Slight change in wind turbine speed significantly reduces bat mortality

Study shows a 1 percent annual energy loss and 44-93 percent reduction in bat fatalities

While wind energy has shown strong potential as a large-scale, emission-free energy source, bat and bird collisions at wind turbines result in thousands of fatalities annually. Migratory bats, such as the hoary bat, are especially at risk for collision with wind turbines as they fly their routes in the forested ridges of the eastern U.S. This loss not only impacts the immediate area, but is also detrimental to ecosystem health nationwide—that is, bats help with pest management, pollination and the dispersal of numerous plant seeds.

Since turbine towers and non-spinning turbine blades do not kill bats, some scientists have proposed shutting off or reducing the usage of wind turbines during peak periods of migration in the late summer and early fall months when bat activity and fatalities are highest.

In a study to be published online November 1, 2010 in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (e-View), a journal of the Ecological Society of America, Edward Arnett from Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas and colleagues examined the effects of changes in wind turbine speed on bat mortality during the low-wind months of late summer and early fall.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Origin of skillful stone-tool-sharpening method pushed back more than 50,000 years

Still Bay bifacial point from Blombos Cave in
South Africa made of silcrete and finished by
pressure flaking, primarily at the tip

Researchers discover oldest evidence of pressure flaking in South African cave

A highly skillful and delicate method of sharpening and retouching stone artifacts by prehistoric people appears to have been developed at least 75,000 years ago, more than 50,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The new findings show that the technique, known as pressure flaking, took place at Blombos Cave in South Africa during the Middle Stone Age by anatomically modern humans and involved the heating of silcrete -- quartz grains cemented by silica -- used to make tools. Pressure flaking takes place when implements previously shaped by hard stone hammer strikes followed by softer strikes with wood or bone hammers are carefully trimmed on the edges by directly pressing the point of a tool made of bone on the stone artifact.

The technique provides a better means of controlling the sharpness, thickness and overall shape of bifacial tools like spearheads and stone knives, said Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and a study co-author. Prior to the Blombos Cave discovery, the earliest evidence of pressure flaking was from the Upper Paleolithic Solutrean culture in France and Spain roughly 20,000 years ago.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Speleological expedition: Lukina jama 2010

The Speleological expedition „Lukina jama 2010“ was held between 24th of July and 15th of August 2010.

It was organized by Speleological section Velebit and the Speleological Committee of the Croatian Mountaineering Association in cooperation with Northern Velebit National Park, with logistic support of The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (CMRS).

Around hundred of speleologists from 14 Croatian speleological clubs and associations participated in the expedition as well as colleagues from Bulgaria, England, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Spain.

This was one of this year’s most challenging expeditions in Europe given the logistics and large amounts of equipment transported to the bottom of the pit in conditions of low temperature and significant water activity.

The expedition resulted in cave diving in the lake at the bottom of the pit, in new speleological topographical maps and scientific research which includes studies of the subterranean fauna, hydrogeology, physical, chemical properties and other characteristics of the pit.

Cave divers and members of the Speleological section Velebit as well as CMRS, Ivica Ćukušić and Robert Erhardt, dived into the submerged passage at the bottom of the dry part of the pit for 135 m in length and 21 m in depth, increasing the overall cave depth to 1400 m and more.

During the expedition, well known Croatian cave diver and member of Speleological section of HPD Željezničar as well as Croatian Biospeleological Society (CBSS), Branko Jalžić, dived into the submerged passage at the bottom of the pit at 40 m in depth.

New overall cave depth is now 1421 m, which makes it the 15th deepest cave in the world.


The 'Rodney Dangerfield' of Halloween Icons

Myotis septentrionalis, or long-eared myotis, are among the bat
species studied by Dr. Erin Gillam and her research team at
North Dakota State University as they conduct field research
on bats in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
in the North Dakota Badlands.
Credit: Paul Barnhart
While many people will be pursuing the latest pop culture icons as Halloween costumes this year, one of the annual icons of Halloween might be viewed as the Rodney Dangerfield of Halloween symbols. The legendary comedian based his career on the line "I get no respect," which might also apply to the misunderstood flying mammal known as bats. The animals often carry a negative connotation that doesn't reflect the respective role bats play in biological ecosystems.

Dr. Erin Gillam, a biological researcher at North Dakota State University, Fargo, conducts research on the role bats play in ecosystems around the globe, as well as on their ability to communicate.

Her research is designed to help understand how behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary factors influence the structure of animal communication signals. She has focused on investigating natural flexibility in bat echolocation and examining how bats adjust their calls in response to characteristics of their signaling environment. Most recently, information about her research was published in the Journal of Mammology.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Studies on Himalayan caves to help in climate forecast

Himalayan limestone caves will be an effective instrument of forecasting the climate of the region in future with the help of studies being conducted on the climatic trend of the last 3,000 years, says a geologists working on it.

"We will not only be able to find the climatic trends in Himalayan region during last 3,000 years but also forecast the future trends as well," said Dr BS Kotlia, a geologist of Kumaun University who is working on three projects of studying limestone caves in Uttarakhand in order to determine the climatic conditions in the past.

"We are studying year-to-year climatic conditions of last three thousand years in Uttarakhand making these limestone caves a symptom of climate change," he said.

Kotlia said that his studies on limestone caves of the region will focus on the climatic conditions that had prevailed during the last 3,000 years.

"It will reflect the rainfall and temperature from year to year as well as the trend of climate," he said.

The Himalayan caves are made of limestone which contains calcium carbonate which is soluble in water, he said.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Volunteer cave rescuers pick up Queen's award

CRO member Roy Holmes receives the award from Lord Crathorne
A cave and mountain rescue group has received royal approval for its volunteer work.

The Cave Rescue Organisation, based in Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales, was announced as a winner of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The team carries out searches and rescues both in the limestone caves and on the fells around its North Yorkshire base.

It was one of 103 groups throughout the UK granted the award, dubbed the ‘MBE for voluntary groups’.

North Yorkshire’s Lord Lieutenant, Lord Crathorne, presented the award – a certificate signed by the Queen and a commemorative crystal. Four team members also received an invitation to a Buckingham Palace garden party earlier in the summer.

The CRO celebrated its 75th anniversary this year.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Half a ton of hashish found at Cerro Gordo, near La Herradura

The drugs were being stored in the 'Cueva de la Virgen'

17 bales amounting to half a ton of hashish has been found in the ‘Cueva de la Virgen’ at Cerro Gordo near La Herradura. The cave is only accessible by sea, and the drugs were found on Wednesday by customs officials from Motril, who noticed the blue colour of some plastic inside the grotto.

Their inspection resulted in 15 bales of drugs being found initially, and then divers found two more on the sea bed. All contained hashish pollen and the total weight was 480 kilos.

A statement from the Guardia Civil said that they consider the find shows a new method of hiding drugs by the traffickers.

Source: Typically Spanish

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bulgarian Moutain Rescue Retrieve Young Man from Cave

Image from Pepelyankata cave nearby Pernik.
Photo by Svetlin Marionv at caves.4at.info
A 23-year own man was rescued by the Mountain Rescue Service in a very difficult operation after falling badly in Pepelyankata cave near the Bulgarian city of Pernik.

The operation continued for five hours over Saturday late afternoon and night and was extremely complicated by the terrain of the cave.

Speleologists and a doctor joined the mountain rescuers to help them in the unfamiliar environment.

The young man had apparently suffered back injuries and taking him out had to be organized extremely carefully.

He had been exploring the cave with a couple of friends. They all had experience and adequate equipment, so his fall is more probably accidental.

After being removed from the cave, the yound man was switfly transported to Pernik hospital.

Source: Novinite

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cave crusader to fight on

Krem Umkseh cave in Jaintia Hills
Meghalaya’s save cave campaign crusader plans to continue his fight even though the Supreme Court recently dismissing his PIL seeking protection of the caves in the state.

Brian Kharpran, the general secretary of Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association, filed the PIL in 2006 seeking protection of caves, which are damaged by rampant limestone mining, especially in Jaintia Hills.

Kharpran said today the Supreme Court dismissed the petition in the first week of September, as his lawyer was not present during the hearing. “I do not know what went wrong and the Supreme Court dismissed the petition as our lawyer was not present during the hearing,” he said.

According to Kharpran, the court appears to be satisfied with the submission of Meghalaya government that it is a preparing a mining policy to address the concerns related to the damage to the caves.

Last year, the Supreme Court asked the state government to form a committee to initiate measures for protecting the caves. “However, we filed an affidavit before the court that we cannot accept the committee since the members of the Single Window Agency, which gives permits to the cement companies to set up units, are also part of the committee,” he said.

Moreover, there are no experts who know about the caves in the committee formed by the government, he said.

Kharpran said he would not rest until justice is delivered. “I will continue to fight for the cause of protection of the caves,” he added.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Krubera Voronya cave: dive through Kvitochka

Documentary footage of 3 Lithuanian speleologists (Saulė Pankienė, Gintautas Švedas, Aidas Gudaitis) and 1 cave diver (Vytis Vilkas) diving through "Kvitochka" siphon and getting to siphon "Dva Kapitana" in Krubera Voronya cave, 2010 August.

Dive through siphon takes about 4 minutes, but it's cropped as it's not very informative due to poor visibility.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

European cave diving team sets world record

A British-led cave diving team just broke a record by completing a 5.5 miles (8.85 kilometers) dive in the Pozo Azul cave system near Covenera in northern Spain. Explorers Rick Stanton, Jason Mallinson and John Volanthen and Dutch cave diver Rene Houben completed a 50-hour journey to explore the system. The team did camp for two nights in a small dry cave area behind sump two and explored several new tunnels.

They were able to better a record set by an American team that ventured 25,591 feet (7,800 meters) into a cave system in Florida. The British team did not only have to deal with the psychological effects of being 28,953 feet (8,825 meters) from the nearest exit, but also with water temperatures of 52 degrees (11 degrees Centigrade).
Rick Stanton was one of the lead explorers of Wookey Hole Caves, a show cave and tourist attraction in the village of Wookey Hole. Over the years, he and other British cave divers did set depth record after depth record in the system near Wells in Somerset, England. In 1977, Martyn Farr reached 148 feet (45 meters), followed by Rob Parker in 1985 (223 feet/68 meters), and John Volanthen and Rick Stanton. The later team did reach 249 feet (76 meters) in 2004, and 295 feet (90 meters) in 2005.

Jason Mallinson is also a very experienced British diver. In 2008, Mallinson and Phil Rowsell explored BU56, a deep cave system in the Spanish Pyrenees that was discovered was once regarded as the deepest cave on the planet.

Rene Houben is an IT specialist from Groningen in the Netherlands. He did explore the Doux de Coly Cave in the Dordogne region of southern France in June 2010. He did also set a previous record exploring Pozo Azul when he and John Volanthen reached 14,419 feet (4,395 meters) in the cave.

An excellent YouTube video shows a different team exploring the Pozo Azul cave system in 2008 is available here:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adapting to Darkness: How Behavioral and Genetic Changes Helped Cavefish Survive Extreme Environment

Except for the loss of eyes and pigment seen in the cave-dwelling form,
the surface-dwelling (at top) and cave-dwelling fish (at bottom)
are hard to tell apart. You can study evolution very nicely if you
have both the ancestral and derived forms of evolving animals.
Credit: University of Maryland, Masato Yoshizawa
University of Maryland biologists have identified how changes in both behavior and genetics led to the evolution of the Mexican blind cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus) from its sighted, surface-dwelling ancestor. In research published in the August 12, 2010 online edition of the journal Current Biology, Professor William Jeffery, together with postdoctoral associates Masato Yoshizawa, and Špela Gorički, and Assistant Professor Daphne Soares in the Department of Biology, provide new information that shows how behavioral and genetic traits coevolved to compensate for the loss of vision in cavefish and to help them find food in darkness.

This is the first time that a clear link has been identified between behavior, genetics, and evolution in Mexican blind cavefish, which are considered an excellent model for studying evolution.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

10,000 Years-old Skeleton Extracted From Flooded Cave

One of the earliest human skeletons of America, which belonged to a person that lived more than 10,000 years ago, in the Ice Age, was recovered by Mexican specialists from a flooded cave in Quintana Roo. The information it has lodged for centuries will reveal new data regarding the settlement of the Americas.

The Young Man of Chan Hol, as the skeleton is known among the scientific community, due to the slight tooth wear it presents, which indicates an early age, is the fourth of our earliest ancestors found in the American Continent, and has been studied as part of a National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) project.

After 3 years of studies conducted In Situ to prevent information loss, the Chan Hol skeleton was subtracted from the water by a team of specialists headed by biologist Arturo Gonzalez, coordinator of the project Study of Pre Ceramic Men of Yucatan Peninsula and director of Museo del Desierto de Coahuila (Museum of the Desert of Coahuila), with the participation of speleodivers Eugenio Acevez, Jeronimo Aviles and Luis Garcia, part of the recently founded Instituto de la Prehistoria de America (Institute for American Prehistory), funded by INAH.

The Young Man of Chan Hol, named after the cenote it was found in, was recovered in a 542 meters long and 8.3 deep cave where stalagmites abound, and is reached after going through flooded, dark and difficult labyrinths.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

National Geographic features University of Miami's work on Bahamas 'blue holes'

Expedition leader, Kenny Broad ascends from
a deep chamber in a Bahamian blue hole.

Expedition led by UM scientist sheds light on evolution, archaeology and climate change

The cover story of the most recent issue of National Geographic Magazine (August 2010) features a University of Miami (UM) led expedition to the underwater caves of the Bahamas, known as 'blue holes.' These unique environments are one of the least understood ecosystems on the planet, largely due to the challenges involved in studying these extreme environments, which include complete darkness, dramatic reversing currents, extreme depths, poisonous gasses, and silty, tight squeezes. The expedition made significant findings related to the past history of the earth, including human occupation, previously undiscovered microbial life, and abrupt climatic changes.

The expedition was conceived of and led by National Geographic Emerging Explorer Kenny Broad, Director of UM's Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, and Associate Professor at UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Funded by The National Geographic Society, the National Museum of the Bahamas, and the National Science Foundation, this work included more than 150 dives and involved unique collaboration between cave divers, scientists from several different fields, and a specialized film team led by the late Wes Skiles, a renowned filmmaker, conservationist and cave explorer. The expedition also was featured in a one-hour NOVA PBS special entitled "Extreme Cave Diving." (see below for the complete video)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

True Causes for Extinction of Cave Bear Revealed: More Human Expansion Than Climate Change

Ursus spelaeus male skull found in Cova Eiros
(Triacastela, Lugo). Credit: Grandal-D'Anglade et al.
The cave bear started to become extinct in Europe 24,000 years ago, but until now the cause was unknown. An international team of scientists has analysed mitochondrial DNA sequences from 17 new fossil samples, and compared these with the modern brown bear. The results show that the decline of the cave bear started 50,000 years ago, and was caused more by human expansion than by climate change.

"The decline in the genetic diversity of the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) began around 50,000 years ago, much earlier than previously suggested, at a time when no major climate change was taking place, but which does coincide with the start of human expansion," says Aurora Grandal-D'Anglade, co-author of the study and a researcher at the University Institute of Geology of the University of Coruña.

According to the research study, published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, radiocarbon dating of the fossil remains shows that the cave bear ceased to be abundant in Central Europe around 35,000 years ago.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Speleologists Find New Animal Species in Maja Harrapit Cave in Albanian Alps

A team of speleologists has discovered new galleries and animal species during their research in the Maja Harrapit (Arapit) Cave, located on the foot of the wall of Maja Arapit Summit in the Albanian Alps.

During their month-long work, the team has discovered and mapped new vertical galleries in the cave, which have increased its length and its development in height, putting it among the largest caves of this kind in the world, Aleksey Zhalov from the Bulgarian Speleology Federation, which coordinates the team, told national media.

According to Zhalov, zoological research was also carried out, which yielded finds of new animal special.

The Maja Harrapit Cave was first explored in the 1970s by Albanian cavers. It was mapped during the first Bulgarian–Albanian expedition in 1992, when 512 metres of cave passages were surveyed. Since then, the team of Albanian, Bulgarian and other speleologists has been researching the cave annually and continue to discover new parts of it.

Calgary explorers discover Canada's deepest cave system near Continental Divide

A team of five amateur cavers from the Calgary area have found a link between two caves in a remote part of the Rockies near the Continental Divide, making the system Canada's deepest by more than 100 metres.

"It's 15 per cent deeper than anything that was known in Canada before," said Kathleen Graham, one of the cavers who found the link. "So this is a lot deeper."

The 653-metre deep cave, which is also the fourth-longest in Canada at 4.5 kilometres, is near the Alberta border in Mount Doupe, a 2,667-metre peak about a 90-minute drive on forestry roads southeast of Fernie, B.C.

Its discovery was the culmination of dozens of forays into two neighbouring caves by about 34 cavers from the Alberta Speleological Society working in small teams over eight years.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Photography: Automatic Slave Units: The Firefly

Both the Firefly 2 and Firefly 3 are based on a slave unit designs by David Gibson of the BCRA CREG, UK www.caves.org.uk/flash/

 
Firefly 2 Operation
Just plug the slave unit into your flashgun and you are ready to shoot!
If you do not want to use the illumination from the trigger flashgun (the one connected to the camera) then you can tape the infra red filter provided to the window of the trigger flashgun to provide an infra red only flash. The slave unit will be triggered, but no visible light will come from the trigger flashgun.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bats Facing Regional Extinction in Northeastern US from Rapidly Spreading White-Nose Syndrome

White fungus on hibernating bats' noses, ears, and arms
causes them to awaken early and lose fat reserves
leading to early death.
A new infectious disease spreading rapidly across the northeastern United States has killed millions of bats and is predicted to cause regional extinction of a once-common bat species, according to the findings of a University of California, Santa Cruz researcher.

The disease, white-nose syndrome, first discovered near Albany, N.Y. in 2006, affects hibernating bats and has caused millions to perish, writes lead author Winifred F. Frick, in a study published in the August 6 issue of Science.

Frick, a UC Santa Cruz graduate who is now a post-doctoral researcher in UCSC's Environmental Studies department, said the disease is spreading quickly across the northeastern U.S. and Canada and now affects seven bat species. If death rates and spread continue as they have over the past four years, this disease will likely lead to the regional extinction of the little brown myotis, previously one of the most common species in North America, she said.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cave paintings found in Dominican Republic

Sixty-one petroglyphs and two bas-relief sculptures believed to 5,000 years old were found in the Dominican Republic, a media report said.

Raul Fernandez, a local resident, found the work in a cave in northern Monteclaro town, the Listin Diario daily said Tuesday.

Spanish archaeologist Adolfo Lopez said the petroglyphs and sculptures could be 5,000 years old.

Lopez, a specialist in cave art at Madrid`s Universidad Complutense, said one of the Monteclaro sculptures is among the three most important pre-Columbian cave art ever found, due to its particular shape and because such works are so rarely found.

"This sculpture is the last bas-relief of quality to be found in the Antilles. It portrays a figure sitting in a fetal position, which gives the idea that it is dedicated to fertility," he said.

Lopez christened the cave with the name of "Raul de Monteclaro" in honour of its discoverer and the place where it is located.

Source: Zeenews

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aussie cave tours in Trekkies' Klingon

Staff at the Jenolan Caves west of Sydney have added a new out-of-this-world attraction - a tour in the Star Trek language Klingon.

Currently a self-guided audio tour at the caves in the Blue Mountains is offered in eight languages, but staff came up with the idea of adding the fictional language Klingon as the caves did once feature in the popular TV series.

"In the Star Trek universe, Jenolan Caves was first immortalized in the Next Generation episode 'Relics,' through the naming of a Sydney Class Starship - the USS Jenolan," the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust said in a statement.

"Now, this relationship will be developed further, when Jenolan Caves adds the language of Star Trek's great warrior race to a tour of their most popular cave."

The Jenolan cave system, located about 175 km west of Sydney, is enormous with over 40 km of passages and incorporating caves, underground rivers and natural archways.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Extreme archaeology: Divers plumb the mysteries of sacred Maya pools


Videographer Marty O'Farrell captures divers
taking a core sample from the bottom of pool 6.
Steering clear of crocodiles and navigating around massive submerged trees, a team of divers began mapping some of the 25 freshwater pools of Cara Blanca, Belize, which were important to the ancient Maya. In three weeks this May, the divers found fossilized animal remains, bits of pottery and -- in the largest pool explored -- an enormous underwater cave.

This project, led by University of Illinois anthropology professor Lisa Lucero and funded by the National Geographic Society and an Arnold O. Beckman Award, was the first of what Lucero hopes will be a series of dives into the pools of the southern Maya lowlands in central Belize. The divers will return this summer to assess whether archaeological excavation is even possible at the bottom of the pools, some of which are more than 60 meters deep.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cave dig uncovers an early life cycle

Skulls found in a Queensland cave have allowed scientists to map for the first time the entire life cycle of an extinct prehistoric species.

A team of researchers from the University of NSW was exploring the world heritage Riversleigh fossil field, in northwestern Queensland, when they chanced upon the 15 million-year-old cave.

Among the hundreds of beautifully preserved fossils found beneath the limestone cave floor were 26 skulls from the Nimbadon, a wombat-like marsupial and major herbivore group before kangaroos.

By comparing the intact skulls from varying stages of the marsupial's life - including as babies in the pouch - scientists were able to map the Nimbadon's life cycle from birth to death in a world-first study.

"We've got skulls representing pouch young all the way through to elderly adults, and that's a first," said Karen Black from UNSW's School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Studies.

Remarkable fossil cave shows how ancient marsupials grew


Skull of sheep-sized diprotodontid Nimbadon lavarackorum
from the middle Miocene cave deposit, AL90.
Credit: Karen Black, UNSW
The discovery of a remarkable 15-million-year-old Australian fossil limestone cave packed with even older animal bones has revealed almost the entire life cycle of a large prehistoric marsupial, from suckling young in the pouch still cutting their milk teeth to elderly adults.

In an unprecedented find, a team of University of New South Wales [Sydney Australia] researchers in has unearthed from the cave floor hundreds of beautifully preserved fossils of the extinct browsing wombat-like marsupial Nimbadonlavarackorum, along with the remains of galloping kangaroos, primitive bandicoots, a fox-sized thylacine and forest bats.

By comparing the skulls of 26 different Nimbadon individuals that died in the cave at varying stages of life the team has been able to show that its babies developed in much the same way as marsupials today, probably being born after only a month's gestation and crawling to the mother's pouch to complete their early development.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Woman dies while cave diving in Suwannee County


A north Florida woman reportedly died while cave diving at Peacock Springs in Suwannee County.
The sheriff's office reports that 67-year-old Patricia Barkley had been diving with a partner Wednesday when she signaled to him with her light and then took off in the other direction. The partner told deputies that he caught up with her and put her hand on the safety cable, and they began swimming toward the exit. When the partner looked back, Barkley was swimming in the opposite direction.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Streets ahead: Artist transforms London pavement into an amazing 3D cave scene

Dramatic: Edgar Mueller lies on top of the cave scene he created on the pavement in London's Docklands 
A stretch of pavement in London has been transformed into a stunning cave scene by a renowned street artist.

Edgar Mueller, from Germany, chalked the 3D scene onto the street in the Docklands area as part of a summer festival in West India Quay.

Mr Mueller started work on the 100m sq drawing last week and put the finishing touches on it today.

He spent 15 hours a day on the piece, starting between 3am and 4am every day.

Describing the work, Mr Mueller told The Wharf: 'It's a cave scene. I got the idea three weeks ago when I was in China and spent a week visiting some natural caves. I just thought "Why don't I put a cave in London?"

Leaps and bounds: A parkour team jump over the cave, which is part of a summer festival at West India Quay


'The idea is after a little earthquake this cave appears. It shouldn't be there and scientists say it is 10million years old. Maybe it's a series of different caves.'

He added: 'I think it's one of the best I've ever done.'

A specially-built lens allows people to look at the spot where the picture looks most 3D.

The owners of West India Quay, X-Leisure, are staging a month of entertainment, starting with an art week.

In the past, Mr Mueller has created a huge 3D Ice Age scene, a lava scene and a giant waterfall.

Source: Daily Mail

Friday, December 31, 2010

Free caving ebook: Vertical by Al Warild

You can download the 2007 edition of Vertical by Al Warild for free on Mark Passerby's website.

This book handles most caving techniques, from basic to advanced. It is clearly written and nicely illustrated (190p.).

This is the American equivalent of the well known "Alpine caving techniques" from Marbach.


Despite the fact that it is primarily aimed towards an American audience, this 2007 revision also contains most European alpine caving techniques.

Book contents:



Thursday, December 30, 2010

Was Israel the birthplace of modern man?


Findings from Tel Aviv University archaeologists locate remains of Homo sapiens in Israel 400,000 years ago

It has long been believed that modern man emerged from the continent of Africa 200,000 years ago. Now Tel Aviv University archaeologists have uncovered evidence thatHomo sapiens roamed the land now called Israel as early as 400,000 years ago ― the earliest evidence for the existence of modern man anywhere in the world.

The findings were discovered in the Qesem Cave, a pre-historic site located near Rosh Ha'ayin that was first excavated in 2000. Prof. Avi Gopher and Dr. Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology, who run the excavations, and Prof. Israel Hershkowitz of the university's Department of Anatomy and Anthropology and Sackler School of Medicine, together with an international team of scientists, performed a morphological analysis on eight human teeth found in the Qesem Cave.

This analysis, which included CT scans and X-rays, indicates that the size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern man. The teeth found in the Qesem Cave are very similar to other evidence of modern man from Israel, dated to around 100,000 years ago, discovered in the Skhul Cave in the Carmel and Qafzeh Cave in the Lower Galilee near Nazareth. The results of the researchers' findings are being published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lascaux: virtual cave visit

In 1940 the cave of Lascaux was discovered by four teenagers. The cave is located in the French region of Dordogne and hosts more then 2000 cave paintings from the Paleolithicum: animals, humans but also more abstract drawings.

These cave paintings are incredibly well preserved and give us a good idea about the life at that time. The paintings however are threatened by bacteria and fungal infections. The government closed the cave in 1963 in an attempt to save the paintings from further deterioration.

A virtual visit to the cave however is still possible: by clicking on the picture below you can discover the different panels and find additional info about each painting.

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lascaux cave: History

Lascaux is the setting of a complex of caves in southwestern France famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings. The original caves are located near the village of Montignac, in the department of Dordogne. They contain some of the best-known Upper Paleolithic art. These paintings are estimated to be 17,300 years old.

 They primarily consist of primitive images of large animals, most of which are known from fossil evidence to have lived in the area at the time. In 1979, Lascaux was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list along with other prehistoric sites in the Vézère valley.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tourists to Spend New Year's Eve in Miraculous Bulgarian Cave

Tourists and speleologists have been increasingly
enthusiastic about the Yagodinska Cave.
Cave-lovers from a tourist club called "Rodopeya" are going to welcome the new year in the Yagodinska Cave in Southern Bulgaria.

The Yagodinska Cave is located in the Rhodope Mountain; it is long 10 km and has three levels, of which the lowest one is equipped with electricity and fit for organized tourism with 1.1-km path, and special entrance tunnels.

The first level of the Yagodinska Cave is a valuable archaeological site as in the 4th millennium BC it was inhabited by pottery makers with had special ovens.

The cave is renowned for its unique forms and rocks with different colors; it features a permanent temperature of 6 degrees Celsius.

In the recent years, speleologists from the Rodopeya Club and tourists who arrive to the nearby villages of Yagodina and Buynovo hold New Year's celebrations inside the cave. A number of wedding ceremonies have also been held there recently.

The Yagodinska Cave is one of Bulgaria's "100 National Tourist Sites"; in 2010, it was visited by 51 000 tourists from Bulgaria and abroad.

Source: Novinite

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fossil finger bone yields genome of a previously unknown human relative


Study suggests 'Denisovans' shared the stage with early modern humans and Neanderthals and interbred with ancestors of modern Melanesians

A 30,000-year-old finger bone found in a cave in southern Siberia came from a young girl who was neither an early modern human nor a Neanderthal, but belonged to a previously unknown group of human relatives who may have lived throughout much of Asia during the late Pleistocene epoch. Although the fossil evidence consists of just a bone fragment and one tooth, DNA extracted from the bone has yielded a draft genome sequence, enabling scientists to reach some startling conclusions about this extinct branch of the human family tree, called "Denisovans" after the cave where the fossils were found.

The findings are reported in the December 23 issue of Nature by an international team of scientists, including many of the same researchers who earlier this year published the Neanderthal genome. Coauthor Richard Green of the University of California, Santa Cruz, played a lead role in the analysis of the genome sequence data, for which a special portal was designed on the UCSC Genome Browser. The team was led by Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Genome of extinct Siberian cave-dweller linked to modern-day humans


Sequencing of ancient DNA reveals new hominin population that is neither Neanderthal nor modern human
Researchers have discovered evidence of a distinct group of "archaic" humans existing outside of Africa more than 30,000 years ago at a time when Neanderthals are thought to have dominated Europe and Asia. But genetic testing shows that members of this new group were not Neanderthals, and they interbred with the ancestors of some modern humans who are alive today.

The journal Nature reported the finding this week. The National Science Foundation's Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences Division partially funded the research.

An international team of scientists led by Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, used a combination of genetic data and dental analysis to identify a previously unknown population of early humans, whom the researchers call "Denisovans." The name was taken from Denisova Cave in southern Siberia where archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences recovered a bone in 2008.

Genetic sequencing of DNA extracted from a finger bone of a 5-10-year-old girl from the cave revealed that she was neither Neanderthal nor a modern human, but shared an ancient origin with Neanderthals. The genetic analysis also showed she had a very different history since splitting from Neanderthals, the researchers concluded.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

15 km drink Avalon

On Friday december 17th, our caving club (grotto), SC Avalon, gave a party for the discovery of more than 15 km of virgin cave passage in Belgium since the 80's.

Despite the bad weather (snow) and slippery roads, 63 persons turned up. Not only members from VVS, but also people from UBS and Speleo Nederland joined.



Our long-time chairman, Paul De Bie, gave a nice speech and a short presentation about some of the more important / bigger discoveries. (which you can download here).

Exploration in Belgium is really not the same as in some other countries. People were awed by the immense amount of labour and the tons and tons of mud, pebbles and rock that had to be moved. Most of the times the digs don't end up revealing anything spectacular, but once in a while a real beauty is discovered (like the "Grotte du Bois de Waerimont" and the "Grotte des Emotions"). You can find the complete list of discoveries on this page.

After the presentation people could enjoy the exposition with some nice pictures and surveys of these discoveries, as well as some drawings and paintings from Annette Van Houtte.



A cabinet filled with archeological and paleontological objects discovered during various digs was also getting a lot of attention. Especially the skull of a cave bear (Ursus speleaus) was impressive.



If your interested in exploration and you want to follow us working towards the next discovery, I can recommend our grotto's blog: http://scavalon.blogspot.com

Update 28/12/2010: As of today a huge new picture gallery is available here, covering not only the clubs discoveries but also some pictures from visits to some of the most beautiful caves in the world.

A special word of thanks goes to our grotto's sponsors Proviron, De Berghut and Chronos.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Journées 2010 de Spéléologie Scientifique

The JSS 2010, an annual cave science conference organised by the Belgian Caving Federation (UBS) and the Belgian Center for Karst Studies held place in Han-sur-Lesse on 11 and 12 december.

This years main topic was the "VMR". The VMR is a book titled "Les Cavernes et les Rivières Souterraines de la Belgique" published by E. Van Den Broeck, E.A. Martel and E. Rahir in 1910. It's a huge book in two parts that described all the caves and underground rivers in Belgium for the first time on a scientific manner. Up until today it's never been equaled. Though there are many new insights and discoveries it's still a reference book for all who are studying the Belgian underground, whether as a scientist or a caver. As it is quite rare and wanted, the price is skyrocketing (I've seen it go for over 300 EUR). Luckily the book has been completely digitized and will be available somewhere in 2011.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Vleermuizen in winterslaap

In België en Nederland komen zo'n 20 verschillende vleermuizen voor (gladneuzen en hoefijzerneuzen), waarvan een aantal zeer zeldzaam is.
(ↄ) Public domain - Bat on ceiling
Omdat er in de koude wintermaanden amper insecten zijn, houden ze een winterslaap: Hun lichaamstemperatuur daalt tot 5°C en ze vertragen hun ademhaling, hartritme en stofwisseling. Naast steengroeven en holle bomen zijn onze grotten een van de plekken bij uitstek om de winter door te brengen: ze zijn koel en vochtig, en gegarandeerd vorstvrij.

Voor verschillende vleermuissoorten, zoals de ingekorven vleermuis, vormt verstoring en het ongeschikt worden van overwinteringsplaatsen, zoals forten en ijskelder, een belangrijke bedreiging.  Om de populaties niet te verstoren tijdens hun winterslaap, worden volgende grotten voorzien van een extra slot, zodanig dat ze niet toegankelijk zijn van 1 november tot 31 maart:


Adzeux (Chantoir d')
Agouloir (Grotte de l')
Bebronne (Grotte de)
Blaireaux (Trou des)
Bohon (Grotte de)
Brialmont (Grotte de)
Casino (Trou n°2 du)
Claminforge (Grotte de)
Comblain (Réseaux sauvages de l'Abîme de)
Deux Copines (Grotte des)
Emotions (Grotte des)
Faisan (Trou du)
Feuilles (Trou aux)
Fonds-de-Forêt (Grottes de)
Fontaine de Rivire (Grotte de)
Freyr (Grotte de)
Géromont Grand Banc (carrière du)
Grandchamps (Chantoir de)
Heinrichs (Grotte)
Maillard (Trou)
Manto - Saint Etienne (Réseau)
Margaux (Grotte)
Marique (trou)
Maye Crevé (Trou du)
Monceau (Grotte de ) - (RND)
Moneuse (Grotte de)
Nou-Maulin (Trou du)
Nutons (Grotte du Chantoir des)
Palan (Trou du)
Pont d'Avignon (Grotte du)
Ramioul (Grotte de)
Remouchamps (Réseau sauvage de la Grotte de)
Riga (Trou)
Sarrasins (Trou des)
Sècheval (Chantoir de)
Surdents (Grotte des)
Tchampacane (Grotte de)
Trotti-aux-Fosses (Gouffre du)
Trou qui Fume
Waérimont
 (Bois de  - Trou de l'Ambre)
Walou (Grotte)
Wuinant (Trou)
Zinc (Trou au)


(Bron: http://www.speleo.be/ubs)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Speleofoto van het jaar

Nieuwe fotowedstrijd, georganiseerd door de "Lithuanian Cavers", open voor iedereen.

 © speleo.lt
Reglement:

  • Foto's kunnen ingediend worden van 1 tot 31 december 2010 via mail naar photo@speleo.lt
  • Onderwerp: alles mag en kan, zolang het speleo-gerelateerd is (Grot, concreties, materiaal, ...)
  • Maximum 15 inzendingen per persoon
  • Minimum 2000 pixels voor de lange zijde van de foto
  • Vermeld duidelijk in het Engels: Onderwerp (max 300 karakters), categorie, plaats en datum van wanneer de foto genomen is en natuurlijk je eigen gegevens (Naam, voornaam, adres, land en emailadres en tel nr)
  • Foto's worden vanaf 01/01/2011 online geplaatst op http://galerija.speleo.lt/v/fotokonkursai/ alwaar het publiek ook kan stemmen. Een 5-koppige professionele jury kiest de beste foto, rekening houdend met de internetstemmen.
  • De uitslag wordt bekend gemaakt op 16 februari 2011.


Bekijk de inzendingen van vorige jaren: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Bron: Speleo.lt

Sunday, December 5, 2010

7 Bulgarians Safe and Sound after Rescue from Flooded Cave

The rescue operation to free four adults and three teenagers who have been stranded in the Duhlata cave in western Bulgaria for two days, ended successfully late on Sunday.

The accident occurred after Saturday torrential rains and rising underground waters flooded thecave's lower passages.

The rescue teams have worked all through the night using heavy equipment such as excavators. The head of the operation told Darik radio he was optimistic regarding the outcome, adding this could be an unprecedented rescue effort in Bulgaria over its large scale.

The four adults are believed to be experienced in speleology with over 20 years of practice and to have all basics to survive inside, along with the teenagers, for several days. Rescuers further said the stranded people are in a safe part of the cave.

Nevertheless, Civil Defense pointed out it is reckless to not watch the weather forecast before undertaking such adventures.

The seven people entered the cave at about 8 pm Friday night. The kids are aged 11, 13 and 14, and are known to be teenage climbers. They are from Sofia, Pernik, and Karlovo.

The Duhlata cave is long 18 km and is known as the more complex underground labyrinth in Bulgaria; it has seven levels. It is near the village of Bosnek, alongside theStruma River.

The cave is secured with a door of metal bars but the speleologists received the key for the door from the mayor of the nearby village, not expecting that the torrential rains will affect their trip.

Mass Rescue Effort to Free Cave-Stranded Bulgarian Adults, Teens

Civil Defense teams have worked round-the-clock overnight to free the
7 people stranded in a cave in western Bulgaria.
The rescue operation to free four adults and three teenagers who have beenstranded in the Duhlata cave in western Bulgaria for 24 hours now is continuing, Civil Defense informed Sunday.

The incident occurred after the Saturday torrential rains and rising underground waters flooded the cave's lower passages.

According to the report, there is one rescue team inside the cave and two more on standby outside. They have worked all through the night using heavy equipment such as excavators. The head of the operation told Darik radio he was optimistic regarding the outcome, adding this could be an unprecedented rescue effort in Bulgaria over its large scale.

The four adults are believed to be experienced in speleology with over 20 years of practice and to have all basics to survive inside, along with the teenagers, for several days. Rescuers further say the stranded people are in a safe part of the cave. They hope to be able to reach them by noon Sunday.

Nevertheless, Civil Defense point out it is reckless to not watch the weather forecast before undertaking such adventures.

The Civil Defense Head, Stefko Burdzhev is travelling to the incident's location Sunday.

Source: Novinite

Saturday, December 4, 2010

7 Bulgarians Stranded in Flooded Cave

The entrance of the Duhlata cave looks deceptively small.
It is secured with a door of metal bars.
Four adults and three teenagers have been stranded in the Duhlata cave in Western Bulgaria after the torrential rains and rising underground waters flooded its lower passages.

The seven people entered the cave at about 8 pm Friday night; they are known to be speleologists. The kids are aged 11, 13 and 14, and are known to be teenage climbers. They are from Sofia, Pernik, and Karlovo.

The Duhlata cave is long 18 km and is known as the more complex underground labyrinth in Bulgaria; it has seven levels. It is near the village of Bosnek, alongside theStruma River.

The cave is secured with a door of metal bars but the speleologists received the key for the door from the mayor of the nearby village, not expecting that the torrential rains will affect their trip.

The rescue units of experienced cave explorers are certain that the strandedpeople are safe because even if the low passages of the cave are flooded, it also has several higher floors where they probably found refuge.

The rescue units got a bulldozer to start smashing the rocks at the site of water springs starting at one side of the cave in order to release more water from thecave passages.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cops recover large cache of arms from cave in J&K

Delhi Police on Wednesday claimed to have recovered a large cache of arms and ammunitions from a cave in a forest in Jammu and Kashmir following a trail given by a "most wanted" Hizb militant who was arrested here last month.

Acting on the information, a joint team of Special Cell and JK Police on November 25 recovered a AK-56 rifle, four magazines, 120 rounds, a hand grenade, two matrix, documents, diary and combat gun pouch (Bandolier) from a cave in Richbagla forest in Rajouri, Additional DCP (Special Cell) Shibhesh Singh said.

After evading arrest for nearly a decade, Hizbul Mujahideen's self-styled divisional commander Mohammed Abdullah Inquilabi referred to as 'Mr Surrender' was arrested in Delhi on November 14.

During interrogation, Singh said, Inquilabi told investigators that during his school days he came in contact with a Maulavi in PoK, who motivated him to join militancy.

"The Maulavi introduced him to leader of Peer Panjal Regiment of Hizbul Mujahideen in PoK. After undergoing training in weapon handling in PoK, he came to JK along with other militants.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vélez Blanco, the Indalo and the Chaman (Brujo)

Many people probably know that the symbol or logo for the province of Almería is the Indalo. The Indalo looks like a stick man who seems to be carrying a rainbow.

What people may not know is that the Indalo is based on a cave painting on the wall of a cliff face close to the town of Vélez Blanco in the north east corner of the province of Almería. It is said that the paintings are around 4500 years old.

The location of the paintings is a place about 1 km outside Vélez Blanco called Cueva de los Letreros. As well as the Indalo there are also cave paintings of the Chaman or Brujo which has been adopted as the symbol for the town of Vélez Blanco.

Apparently it is believed that the people who created the paintings lived in the valley below the cliff and the area of the paintings was a bit like a ‘church’ for them. They paid visits up to the site and perhaps performed sacrifices on the site (hence the Brujo having a goats head and holding what is thought to be a scythe and a heart).

You might expect the paintings to be inside a cave and well protected. However they are on a cliff wall underneath an overhang.

The paintings are almost always in red and made from a paste of iron deposits. Perhaps red was to signify blood?
 
There were many different symbols including the Brujo, the Indalo, triangles representing woman, symbols for water, lightening, the sun, the moon and various animals.

The site has been robbed of some of the paintings. Also, the paintings are deteriorating due to the action of the weather. Plus the paintings are getting covered up by calcium deposits.

The good news is that there are now people (normally university professors working in their summer break) who are sanctioned by UNESCO to restore the paintings. It is a painstaking and time consuming job. Also, there are not enough experts to do the job so it will be some time before all of the paintings here get restored.

The semi-circle at the top of the Indalo sign may have been a special ceremonial bow that was held up as part of a ritual.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Remains of eight people found in a cave in Navarra

The bones discovered by a group of cavers could be more than 30 years old

Human remains recently found in a cave in the mountains of Navarra could be more than 30 years old, and are believed to be those of six men and two women. The bones were discovered by a group of three speleologists who were caving in the Andía mountain range on November 14 and were examined in situ by forensic experts last week.

They were removed from the site by specialist mountaineers from the Civil Guard and analyses will now be carried out by expert forensic anthropologists.

The National Police said in a press release this Thursday that they have ruled out that the remains are of those persons who have recently been reported missing.

In the Baleares meanwhile, the remains of a human body have been discovered in the boot of a car found parked in the Binidalí area of Mahón, the capital of Menorca. Javier Tejero, the central government representative for Menorca, told Europa Press that the remains could be between two and four years old. It’s understood personal possession were also found in the vehicle.

An autopsy was due to take place in Palma, on Mallorca.

Source: Typically Spanish

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Video: Water erosion (geology)


A short geology video on water erosion (in French and English) by Vercors-TV.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Moa skull auction divides bidders

A Hamilton man has put a rare piece of New Zealand history up for sale on TradeMe.

Glen Brady is auctioning what he claims to be a moa skull, which he says was discovered in the 1950s by his father who was working for a bridge building company in the Waitomo area.

"They were digging the foundations for a bridge and they dug into the side of a cave and plucked the skull out," Brady said.

The artefact was passed on to Brady after his dad passed away at the end of August.

The skull has had 25,000 hits on TradeMe, but some users have criticised the listing, saying the skull should be given to a museum.

"Some people were really, really nasty...I was really surprised at people's opinions on other people's property and what they do with it," he said.

Brady has defended the auction and said museums keep most of their objects locked away. He said it is better to sell it in a private auction, where someone will get to see the skull.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Speleo-ski

Cave-skiing in the Devoluy - a ski descent in the Chourum de la Parza



 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Towards the centre of the Earth expedition 2010. Krubera Voronya

Towards the centre of the Earth expedition 2010. Krubera Voronya cave in Abkhazia/Georgia. Currently the deepest cave in the world.

Photos by Niall Aidas Jolanta Laura and Jesus.

Music by And So I Watched You From Afar - 'The Voiceless' Go to their myspace site for details.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Can Bats And Wind Turbines Mingle?

When it comes to wind turbine fatalities, birds aren’t the only wildlife population affected. Migratory bats, such as the hoary bat–which flies its route along the forested ridges of the eastern U.S.–are especially at risk. This is an issue not only for bat-enthusiasts, but for ecosystems nationwide, as bats are important consumers of mosquitoes and other such pests, as well as dispersers of pollen and seeds for numerous plants.

A new study from Edward Arnett of Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas and colleagues, recently published at Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a journal of the Ecological Society of America, shows that a slight alteration in turbine operation practices can have a big effect in reducing bat fatalities.

Currently, most wind turbines in the U.S. are programmed to “cut in,” or begin rotating and producing power, once wind speed has reached approximately 8 to 9 miles per hour (mph). Researchers found that by raising the cut-in speed just a bit–to roughly 11 mph–bat fatalities were reduced by at least 44 percent, and by as much as 93 percent, with an annual power loss of less than one percent.

“This is the only proven mitigation option to reduce bat kills at this time,” said Arnett, in a statement. “If we want to pursue the benefits associated with wind energy, we need to consider the local ecological impacts that the turbines could cause.” He goes on to note that while he and his colleagues have seen a rise in bat mortality associated with wind energy development, their study shows that a marginal limitation on turbines during the summer and fall months can help to maximize bats’ chances of survival.

Source: Earthtechling

Freediving world record broken by Carlos Coste

Carlos Coste, a Venezuelan freediver, achieved his new record apnea in a Mexican underwater cave, the Cenote Dos Ojos, with a linear swim of 150 meters (dynamic). It took him 2 minutes and 32 seconds.



Moved by religion: Mexican cavefish develop resistance to toxin


A centuries-old religious ceremony of an indigenous people in southern Mexico has led to small evolutionary changes in a local species of fish, according to researchers from Texas A&M University.

Since before the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World, the Zoque people of southern Mexico would venture each year during the Easter season deep into the sulfuric cave Cueva del Azufre to implore their deities for a bountiful rain season. As part of the annual ritual, they release into the cave's waters a distinctive, leaf-bound paste made of lime and the ground-up root of the barbasco plant, a natural fish toxin. Believing the cave's fish to be gifts from their gods, they scoop up their poisoned prey to feed upon until their crops are ready to harvest.

However, a team of researchers led by Dr. Michael Tobler, an evolutionary ecologist at Oklahoma State University, and Dr. Gil Rosenthal, a biology professor at Texas A&M, has discovered that some of these fish have managed not only to develop a resistance to the plant's powerful toxin, but also to pass on their tolerant genes to their offspring, enabling them to survive in the face of otherwise certain death for their non-evolved brethren.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

James Cameron's 3D cave movie: Sanctum


The 3-D action-thriller Sanctum, from executive producer James Cameron, follows a team of underwater cave divers on a treacherous expedition to the largest, most beautiful and least accessible cave system on Earth. When a tropical storm forces them deep into the caverns, they must fight raging water, deadly terrain and creeping panic as they search for an unknown escape route to the sea. Master diver Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh) has explored the South Pacific’s Esa-ala Caves for months. But when his exit is cut off in a flash flood, Frank’s team–including 17-year-old son Josh (Rhys Wakefield) and financier Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd)–are forced to radically alter plans. With dwindling supplies, the crew must navigate an underwater labyrinth to make it out. Soon, they are confronted with the unavoidable question: Can they survive, or will they be trapped forever?

Sanctum will be released in the UK on February 4th 2011.

Trailer:


Official website: http://www.sanctummovie.com/


Monday, November 1, 2010

Slight change in wind turbine speed significantly reduces bat mortality

Study shows a 1 percent annual energy loss and 44-93 percent reduction in bat fatalities

While wind energy has shown strong potential as a large-scale, emission-free energy source, bat and bird collisions at wind turbines result in thousands of fatalities annually. Migratory bats, such as the hoary bat, are especially at risk for collision with wind turbines as they fly their routes in the forested ridges of the eastern U.S. This loss not only impacts the immediate area, but is also detrimental to ecosystem health nationwide—that is, bats help with pest management, pollination and the dispersal of numerous plant seeds.

Since turbine towers and non-spinning turbine blades do not kill bats, some scientists have proposed shutting off or reducing the usage of wind turbines during peak periods of migration in the late summer and early fall months when bat activity and fatalities are highest.

In a study to be published online November 1, 2010 in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (e-View), a journal of the Ecological Society of America, Edward Arnett from Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas and colleagues examined the effects of changes in wind turbine speed on bat mortality during the low-wind months of late summer and early fall.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Origin of skillful stone-tool-sharpening method pushed back more than 50,000 years

Still Bay bifacial point from Blombos Cave in
South Africa made of silcrete and finished by
pressure flaking, primarily at the tip

Researchers discover oldest evidence of pressure flaking in South African cave

A highly skillful and delicate method of sharpening and retouching stone artifacts by prehistoric people appears to have been developed at least 75,000 years ago, more than 50,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The new findings show that the technique, known as pressure flaking, took place at Blombos Cave in South Africa during the Middle Stone Age by anatomically modern humans and involved the heating of silcrete -- quartz grains cemented by silica -- used to make tools. Pressure flaking takes place when implements previously shaped by hard stone hammer strikes followed by softer strikes with wood or bone hammers are carefully trimmed on the edges by directly pressing the point of a tool made of bone on the stone artifact.

The technique provides a better means of controlling the sharpness, thickness and overall shape of bifacial tools like spearheads and stone knives, said Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and a study co-author. Prior to the Blombos Cave discovery, the earliest evidence of pressure flaking was from the Upper Paleolithic Solutrean culture in France and Spain roughly 20,000 years ago.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Speleological expedition: Lukina jama 2010

The Speleological expedition „Lukina jama 2010“ was held between 24th of July and 15th of August 2010.

It was organized by Speleological section Velebit and the Speleological Committee of the Croatian Mountaineering Association in cooperation with Northern Velebit National Park, with logistic support of The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (CMRS).

Around hundred of speleologists from 14 Croatian speleological clubs and associations participated in the expedition as well as colleagues from Bulgaria, England, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Spain.

This was one of this year’s most challenging expeditions in Europe given the logistics and large amounts of equipment transported to the bottom of the pit in conditions of low temperature and significant water activity.

The expedition resulted in cave diving in the lake at the bottom of the pit, in new speleological topographical maps and scientific research which includes studies of the subterranean fauna, hydrogeology, physical, chemical properties and other characteristics of the pit.

Cave divers and members of the Speleological section Velebit as well as CMRS, Ivica Ćukušić and Robert Erhardt, dived into the submerged passage at the bottom of the dry part of the pit for 135 m in length and 21 m in depth, increasing the overall cave depth to 1400 m and more.

During the expedition, well known Croatian cave diver and member of Speleological section of HPD Željezničar as well as Croatian Biospeleological Society (CBSS), Branko Jalžić, dived into the submerged passage at the bottom of the pit at 40 m in depth.

New overall cave depth is now 1421 m, which makes it the 15th deepest cave in the world.


The 'Rodney Dangerfield' of Halloween Icons

Myotis septentrionalis, or long-eared myotis, are among the bat
species studied by Dr. Erin Gillam and her research team at
North Dakota State University as they conduct field research
on bats in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
in the North Dakota Badlands.
Credit: Paul Barnhart
While many people will be pursuing the latest pop culture icons as Halloween costumes this year, one of the annual icons of Halloween might be viewed as the Rodney Dangerfield of Halloween symbols. The legendary comedian based his career on the line "I get no respect," which might also apply to the misunderstood flying mammal known as bats. The animals often carry a negative connotation that doesn't reflect the respective role bats play in biological ecosystems.

Dr. Erin Gillam, a biological researcher at North Dakota State University, Fargo, conducts research on the role bats play in ecosystems around the globe, as well as on their ability to communicate.

Her research is designed to help understand how behavioral, ecological, and evolutionary factors influence the structure of animal communication signals. She has focused on investigating natural flexibility in bat echolocation and examining how bats adjust their calls in response to characteristics of their signaling environment. Most recently, information about her research was published in the Journal of Mammology.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Studies on Himalayan caves to help in climate forecast

Himalayan limestone caves will be an effective instrument of forecasting the climate of the region in future with the help of studies being conducted on the climatic trend of the last 3,000 years, says a geologists working on it.

"We will not only be able to find the climatic trends in Himalayan region during last 3,000 years but also forecast the future trends as well," said Dr BS Kotlia, a geologist of Kumaun University who is working on three projects of studying limestone caves in Uttarakhand in order to determine the climatic conditions in the past.

"We are studying year-to-year climatic conditions of last three thousand years in Uttarakhand making these limestone caves a symptom of climate change," he said.

Kotlia said that his studies on limestone caves of the region will focus on the climatic conditions that had prevailed during the last 3,000 years.

"It will reflect the rainfall and temperature from year to year as well as the trend of climate," he said.

The Himalayan caves are made of limestone which contains calcium carbonate which is soluble in water, he said.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Volunteer cave rescuers pick up Queen's award

CRO member Roy Holmes receives the award from Lord Crathorne
A cave and mountain rescue group has received royal approval for its volunteer work.

The Cave Rescue Organisation, based in Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales, was announced as a winner of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The team carries out searches and rescues both in the limestone caves and on the fells around its North Yorkshire base.

It was one of 103 groups throughout the UK granted the award, dubbed the ‘MBE for voluntary groups’.

North Yorkshire’s Lord Lieutenant, Lord Crathorne, presented the award – a certificate signed by the Queen and a commemorative crystal. Four team members also received an invitation to a Buckingham Palace garden party earlier in the summer.

The CRO celebrated its 75th anniversary this year.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Half a ton of hashish found at Cerro Gordo, near La Herradura

The drugs were being stored in the 'Cueva de la Virgen'

17 bales amounting to half a ton of hashish has been found in the ‘Cueva de la Virgen’ at Cerro Gordo near La Herradura. The cave is only accessible by sea, and the drugs were found on Wednesday by customs officials from Motril, who noticed the blue colour of some plastic inside the grotto.

Their inspection resulted in 15 bales of drugs being found initially, and then divers found two more on the sea bed. All contained hashish pollen and the total weight was 480 kilos.

A statement from the Guardia Civil said that they consider the find shows a new method of hiding drugs by the traffickers.

Source: Typically Spanish

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bulgarian Moutain Rescue Retrieve Young Man from Cave

Image from Pepelyankata cave nearby Pernik.
Photo by Svetlin Marionv at caves.4at.info
A 23-year own man was rescued by the Mountain Rescue Service in a very difficult operation after falling badly in Pepelyankata cave near the Bulgarian city of Pernik.

The operation continued for five hours over Saturday late afternoon and night and was extremely complicated by the terrain of the cave.

Speleologists and a doctor joined the mountain rescuers to help them in the unfamiliar environment.

The young man had apparently suffered back injuries and taking him out had to be organized extremely carefully.

He had been exploring the cave with a couple of friends. They all had experience and adequate equipment, so his fall is more probably accidental.

After being removed from the cave, the yound man was switfly transported to Pernik hospital.

Source: Novinite

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cave crusader to fight on

Krem Umkseh cave in Jaintia Hills
Meghalaya’s save cave campaign crusader plans to continue his fight even though the Supreme Court recently dismissing his PIL seeking protection of the caves in the state.

Brian Kharpran, the general secretary of Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association, filed the PIL in 2006 seeking protection of caves, which are damaged by rampant limestone mining, especially in Jaintia Hills.

Kharpran said today the Supreme Court dismissed the petition in the first week of September, as his lawyer was not present during the hearing. “I do not know what went wrong and the Supreme Court dismissed the petition as our lawyer was not present during the hearing,” he said.

According to Kharpran, the court appears to be satisfied with the submission of Meghalaya government that it is a preparing a mining policy to address the concerns related to the damage to the caves.

Last year, the Supreme Court asked the state government to form a committee to initiate measures for protecting the caves. “However, we filed an affidavit before the court that we cannot accept the committee since the members of the Single Window Agency, which gives permits to the cement companies to set up units, are also part of the committee,” he said.

Moreover, there are no experts who know about the caves in the committee formed by the government, he said.

Kharpran said he would not rest until justice is delivered. “I will continue to fight for the cause of protection of the caves,” he added.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Krubera Voronya cave: dive through Kvitochka

Documentary footage of 3 Lithuanian speleologists (Saulė Pankienė, Gintautas Švedas, Aidas Gudaitis) and 1 cave diver (Vytis Vilkas) diving through "Kvitochka" siphon and getting to siphon "Dva Kapitana" in Krubera Voronya cave, 2010 August.

Dive through siphon takes about 4 minutes, but it's cropped as it's not very informative due to poor visibility.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

European cave diving team sets world record

A British-led cave diving team just broke a record by completing a 5.5 miles (8.85 kilometers) dive in the Pozo Azul cave system near Covenera in northern Spain. Explorers Rick Stanton, Jason Mallinson and John Volanthen and Dutch cave diver Rene Houben completed a 50-hour journey to explore the system. The team did camp for two nights in a small dry cave area behind sump two and explored several new tunnels.

They were able to better a record set by an American team that ventured 25,591 feet (7,800 meters) into a cave system in Florida. The British team did not only have to deal with the psychological effects of being 28,953 feet (8,825 meters) from the nearest exit, but also with water temperatures of 52 degrees (11 degrees Centigrade).
Rick Stanton was one of the lead explorers of Wookey Hole Caves, a show cave and tourist attraction in the village of Wookey Hole. Over the years, he and other British cave divers did set depth record after depth record in the system near Wells in Somerset, England. In 1977, Martyn Farr reached 148 feet (45 meters), followed by Rob Parker in 1985 (223 feet/68 meters), and John Volanthen and Rick Stanton. The later team did reach 249 feet (76 meters) in 2004, and 295 feet (90 meters) in 2005.

Jason Mallinson is also a very experienced British diver. In 2008, Mallinson and Phil Rowsell explored BU56, a deep cave system in the Spanish Pyrenees that was discovered was once regarded as the deepest cave on the planet.

Rene Houben is an IT specialist from Groningen in the Netherlands. He did explore the Doux de Coly Cave in the Dordogne region of southern France in June 2010. He did also set a previous record exploring Pozo Azul when he and John Volanthen reached 14,419 feet (4,395 meters) in the cave.

An excellent YouTube video shows a different team exploring the Pozo Azul cave system in 2008 is available here:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adapting to Darkness: How Behavioral and Genetic Changes Helped Cavefish Survive Extreme Environment

Except for the loss of eyes and pigment seen in the cave-dwelling form,
the surface-dwelling (at top) and cave-dwelling fish (at bottom)
are hard to tell apart. You can study evolution very nicely if you
have both the ancestral and derived forms of evolving animals.
Credit: University of Maryland, Masato Yoshizawa
University of Maryland biologists have identified how changes in both behavior and genetics led to the evolution of the Mexican blind cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus) from its sighted, surface-dwelling ancestor. In research published in the August 12, 2010 online edition of the journal Current Biology, Professor William Jeffery, together with postdoctoral associates Masato Yoshizawa, and Špela Gorički, and Assistant Professor Daphne Soares in the Department of Biology, provide new information that shows how behavioral and genetic traits coevolved to compensate for the loss of vision in cavefish and to help them find food in darkness.

This is the first time that a clear link has been identified between behavior, genetics, and evolution in Mexican blind cavefish, which are considered an excellent model for studying evolution.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

10,000 Years-old Skeleton Extracted From Flooded Cave

One of the earliest human skeletons of America, which belonged to a person that lived more than 10,000 years ago, in the Ice Age, was recovered by Mexican specialists from a flooded cave in Quintana Roo. The information it has lodged for centuries will reveal new data regarding the settlement of the Americas.

The Young Man of Chan Hol, as the skeleton is known among the scientific community, due to the slight tooth wear it presents, which indicates an early age, is the fourth of our earliest ancestors found in the American Continent, and has been studied as part of a National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) project.

After 3 years of studies conducted In Situ to prevent information loss, the Chan Hol skeleton was subtracted from the water by a team of specialists headed by biologist Arturo Gonzalez, coordinator of the project Study of Pre Ceramic Men of Yucatan Peninsula and director of Museo del Desierto de Coahuila (Museum of the Desert of Coahuila), with the participation of speleodivers Eugenio Acevez, Jeronimo Aviles and Luis Garcia, part of the recently founded Instituto de la Prehistoria de America (Institute for American Prehistory), funded by INAH.

The Young Man of Chan Hol, named after the cenote it was found in, was recovered in a 542 meters long and 8.3 deep cave where stalagmites abound, and is reached after going through flooded, dark and difficult labyrinths.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

National Geographic features University of Miami's work on Bahamas 'blue holes'

Expedition leader, Kenny Broad ascends from
a deep chamber in a Bahamian blue hole.

Expedition led by UM scientist sheds light on evolution, archaeology and climate change

The cover story of the most recent issue of National Geographic Magazine (August 2010) features a University of Miami (UM) led expedition to the underwater caves of the Bahamas, known as 'blue holes.' These unique environments are one of the least understood ecosystems on the planet, largely due to the challenges involved in studying these extreme environments, which include complete darkness, dramatic reversing currents, extreme depths, poisonous gasses, and silty, tight squeezes. The expedition made significant findings related to the past history of the earth, including human occupation, previously undiscovered microbial life, and abrupt climatic changes.

The expedition was conceived of and led by National Geographic Emerging Explorer Kenny Broad, Director of UM's Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, and Associate Professor at UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Funded by The National Geographic Society, the National Museum of the Bahamas, and the National Science Foundation, this work included more than 150 dives and involved unique collaboration between cave divers, scientists from several different fields, and a specialized film team led by the late Wes Skiles, a renowned filmmaker, conservationist and cave explorer. The expedition also was featured in a one-hour NOVA PBS special entitled "Extreme Cave Diving." (see below for the complete video)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

True Causes for Extinction of Cave Bear Revealed: More Human Expansion Than Climate Change

Ursus spelaeus male skull found in Cova Eiros
(Triacastela, Lugo). Credit: Grandal-D'Anglade et al.
The cave bear started to become extinct in Europe 24,000 years ago, but until now the cause was unknown. An international team of scientists has analysed mitochondrial DNA sequences from 17 new fossil samples, and compared these with the modern brown bear. The results show that the decline of the cave bear started 50,000 years ago, and was caused more by human expansion than by climate change.

"The decline in the genetic diversity of the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) began around 50,000 years ago, much earlier than previously suggested, at a time when no major climate change was taking place, but which does coincide with the start of human expansion," says Aurora Grandal-D'Anglade, co-author of the study and a researcher at the University Institute of Geology of the University of Coruña.

According to the research study, published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, radiocarbon dating of the fossil remains shows that the cave bear ceased to be abundant in Central Europe around 35,000 years ago.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Speleologists Find New Animal Species in Maja Harrapit Cave in Albanian Alps

A team of speleologists has discovered new galleries and animal species during their research in the Maja Harrapit (Arapit) Cave, located on the foot of the wall of Maja Arapit Summit in the Albanian Alps.

During their month-long work, the team has discovered and mapped new vertical galleries in the cave, which have increased its length and its development in height, putting it among the largest caves of this kind in the world, Aleksey Zhalov from the Bulgarian Speleology Federation, which coordinates the team, told national media.

According to Zhalov, zoological research was also carried out, which yielded finds of new animal special.

The Maja Harrapit Cave was first explored in the 1970s by Albanian cavers. It was mapped during the first Bulgarian–Albanian expedition in 1992, when 512 metres of cave passages were surveyed. Since then, the team of Albanian, Bulgarian and other speleologists has been researching the cave annually and continue to discover new parts of it.

Calgary explorers discover Canada's deepest cave system near Continental Divide

A team of five amateur cavers from the Calgary area have found a link between two caves in a remote part of the Rockies near the Continental Divide, making the system Canada's deepest by more than 100 metres.

"It's 15 per cent deeper than anything that was known in Canada before," said Kathleen Graham, one of the cavers who found the link. "So this is a lot deeper."

The 653-metre deep cave, which is also the fourth-longest in Canada at 4.5 kilometres, is near the Alberta border in Mount Doupe, a 2,667-metre peak about a 90-minute drive on forestry roads southeast of Fernie, B.C.

Its discovery was the culmination of dozens of forays into two neighbouring caves by about 34 cavers from the Alberta Speleological Society working in small teams over eight years.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Photography: Automatic Slave Units: The Firefly

Both the Firefly 2 and Firefly 3 are based on a slave unit designs by David Gibson of the BCRA CREG, UK www.caves.org.uk/flash/

 
Firefly 2 Operation
Just plug the slave unit into your flashgun and you are ready to shoot!
If you do not want to use the illumination from the trigger flashgun (the one connected to the camera) then you can tape the infra red filter provided to the window of the trigger flashgun to provide an infra red only flash. The slave unit will be triggered, but no visible light will come from the trigger flashgun.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bats Facing Regional Extinction in Northeastern US from Rapidly Spreading White-Nose Syndrome

White fungus on hibernating bats' noses, ears, and arms
causes them to awaken early and lose fat reserves
leading to early death.
A new infectious disease spreading rapidly across the northeastern United States has killed millions of bats and is predicted to cause regional extinction of a once-common bat species, according to the findings of a University of California, Santa Cruz researcher.

The disease, white-nose syndrome, first discovered near Albany, N.Y. in 2006, affects hibernating bats and has caused millions to perish, writes lead author Winifred F. Frick, in a study published in the August 6 issue of Science.

Frick, a UC Santa Cruz graduate who is now a post-doctoral researcher in UCSC's Environmental Studies department, said the disease is spreading quickly across the northeastern U.S. and Canada and now affects seven bat species. If death rates and spread continue as they have over the past four years, this disease will likely lead to the regional extinction of the little brown myotis, previously one of the most common species in North America, she said.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cave paintings found in Dominican Republic

Sixty-one petroglyphs and two bas-relief sculptures believed to 5,000 years old were found in the Dominican Republic, a media report said.

Raul Fernandez, a local resident, found the work in a cave in northern Monteclaro town, the Listin Diario daily said Tuesday.

Spanish archaeologist Adolfo Lopez said the petroglyphs and sculptures could be 5,000 years old.

Lopez, a specialist in cave art at Madrid`s Universidad Complutense, said one of the Monteclaro sculptures is among the three most important pre-Columbian cave art ever found, due to its particular shape and because such works are so rarely found.

"This sculpture is the last bas-relief of quality to be found in the Antilles. It portrays a figure sitting in a fetal position, which gives the idea that it is dedicated to fertility," he said.

Lopez christened the cave with the name of "Raul de Monteclaro" in honour of its discoverer and the place where it is located.

Source: Zeenews

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aussie cave tours in Trekkies' Klingon

Staff at the Jenolan Caves west of Sydney have added a new out-of-this-world attraction - a tour in the Star Trek language Klingon.

Currently a self-guided audio tour at the caves in the Blue Mountains is offered in eight languages, but staff came up with the idea of adding the fictional language Klingon as the caves did once feature in the popular TV series.

"In the Star Trek universe, Jenolan Caves was first immortalized in the Next Generation episode 'Relics,' through the naming of a Sydney Class Starship - the USS Jenolan," the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust said in a statement.

"Now, this relationship will be developed further, when Jenolan Caves adds the language of Star Trek's great warrior race to a tour of their most popular cave."

The Jenolan cave system, located about 175 km west of Sydney, is enormous with over 40 km of passages and incorporating caves, underground rivers and natural archways.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Extreme archaeology: Divers plumb the mysteries of sacred Maya pools


Videographer Marty O'Farrell captures divers
taking a core sample from the bottom of pool 6.
Steering clear of crocodiles and navigating around massive submerged trees, a team of divers began mapping some of the 25 freshwater pools of Cara Blanca, Belize, which were important to the ancient Maya. In three weeks this May, the divers found fossilized animal remains, bits of pottery and -- in the largest pool explored -- an enormous underwater cave.

This project, led by University of Illinois anthropology professor Lisa Lucero and funded by the National Geographic Society and an Arnold O. Beckman Award, was the first of what Lucero hopes will be a series of dives into the pools of the southern Maya lowlands in central Belize. The divers will return this summer to assess whether archaeological excavation is even possible at the bottom of the pools, some of which are more than 60 meters deep.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cave dig uncovers an early life cycle

Skulls found in a Queensland cave have allowed scientists to map for the first time the entire life cycle of an extinct prehistoric species.

A team of researchers from the University of NSW was exploring the world heritage Riversleigh fossil field, in northwestern Queensland, when they chanced upon the 15 million-year-old cave.

Among the hundreds of beautifully preserved fossils found beneath the limestone cave floor were 26 skulls from the Nimbadon, a wombat-like marsupial and major herbivore group before kangaroos.

By comparing the intact skulls from varying stages of the marsupial's life - including as babies in the pouch - scientists were able to map the Nimbadon's life cycle from birth to death in a world-first study.

"We've got skulls representing pouch young all the way through to elderly adults, and that's a first," said Karen Black from UNSW's School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Studies.

Remarkable fossil cave shows how ancient marsupials grew


Skull of sheep-sized diprotodontid Nimbadon lavarackorum
from the middle Miocene cave deposit, AL90.
Credit: Karen Black, UNSW
The discovery of a remarkable 15-million-year-old Australian fossil limestone cave packed with even older animal bones has revealed almost the entire life cycle of a large prehistoric marsupial, from suckling young in the pouch still cutting their milk teeth to elderly adults.

In an unprecedented find, a team of University of New South Wales [Sydney Australia] researchers in has unearthed from the cave floor hundreds of beautifully preserved fossils of the extinct browsing wombat-like marsupial Nimbadonlavarackorum, along with the remains of galloping kangaroos, primitive bandicoots, a fox-sized thylacine and forest bats.

By comparing the skulls of 26 different Nimbadon individuals that died in the cave at varying stages of life the team has been able to show that its babies developed in much the same way as marsupials today, probably being born after only a month's gestation and crawling to the mother's pouch to complete their early development.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Woman dies while cave diving in Suwannee County


A north Florida woman reportedly died while cave diving at Peacock Springs in Suwannee County.
The sheriff's office reports that 67-year-old Patricia Barkley had been diving with a partner Wednesday when she signaled to him with her light and then took off in the other direction. The partner told deputies that he caught up with her and put her hand on the safety cable, and they began swimming toward the exit. When the partner looked back, Barkley was swimming in the opposite direction.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Streets ahead: Artist transforms London pavement into an amazing 3D cave scene

Dramatic: Edgar Mueller lies on top of the cave scene he created on the pavement in London's Docklands 
A stretch of pavement in London has been transformed into a stunning cave scene by a renowned street artist.

Edgar Mueller, from Germany, chalked the 3D scene onto the street in the Docklands area as part of a summer festival in West India Quay.

Mr Mueller started work on the 100m sq drawing last week and put the finishing touches on it today.

He spent 15 hours a day on the piece, starting between 3am and 4am every day.

Describing the work, Mr Mueller told The Wharf: 'It's a cave scene. I got the idea three weeks ago when I was in China and spent a week visiting some natural caves. I just thought "Why don't I put a cave in London?"

Leaps and bounds: A parkour team jump over the cave, which is part of a summer festival at West India Quay


'The idea is after a little earthquake this cave appears. It shouldn't be there and scientists say it is 10million years old. Maybe it's a series of different caves.'

He added: 'I think it's one of the best I've ever done.'

A specially-built lens allows people to look at the spot where the picture looks most 3D.

The owners of West India Quay, X-Leisure, are staging a month of entertainment, starting with an art week.

In the past, Mr Mueller has created a huge 3D Ice Age scene, a lava scene and a giant waterfall.

Source: Daily Mail