Friday, March 30, 2012

White-nose syndrome found in bats at Delaware forts

A fungal disease that has decimated bat populations from Canada to the Deep South has been found in Delaware.

White-nose syndrome is a fungus that has killed between 5 and a half and 6.7 million bats in Canada, the Northeast, Midwest and South since it was first discovered in 2006. Biologists from DNREC have diagnosed the disease in bats hibernating in Fort DuPont and especially Fort Delaware in Delaware City. While there’s no known threat to humans, DNREC will be educating visitors to Fort Delaware this spring about how to prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome to different bat species.

While the bat population in Delaware isn’t as large as in some other states, DNREC says a significant loss in Delaware’s bat population could impact humans, because bats eat large numbers of flying insects, including major agricultural pests. A DNREC study has estimated that bats save farmers billions in pesticide costs.

Jumbo rescued from crevice

A female elephant fell into a pit at Chinna Thadagam
in Coimbatore and was rescued by forest department staff.
The forest officials rescued a 15-year-old female elephant, which fell into a crevice in the reserve forest area of Periyanayakanpalayam forest range in Nanjundapuram village near Thadagam on Thursday.

Anti-poaching watchers heard an elephant’s trumpet in the reserve forest on Wednesday. Later in the evening, they found an elephant trapped between two rocks near Manpari area.

According to forest ranger M. Nazeer, the female elephant must have entered the cave to drink water. She got trapped in the gap, as it was slippery and deep. We performed the rescue operation on Thursday, Mr Nazeer said.

The forest team said they first fed banana, sugarcane to give energy to the jumbo for the climb. “Then we filled stones, sand and other stuffed rocky materials inside the gap and formed a platform for the elephant to step on and come outside the rock. The rescue operation lasted more than four hours,” the forest team said.

Source: Deccan Chronicle

Human Fish Pool in the Postojna Cave

As the Postojna Cave attracts up to 5000 visitors per day, it was necessary to design an aquarium that would bring one of the main attractions of the Karst underworld closer to larger groups of visitors, making use of the existing artificial berm and the widened area of the path through the cave. The object of the project was to design a new aquarium that would ensure suitable conditions for keeping human fish (Proteus anguinus) available for public viewing. When developing the design, it was necessary to consider manual construction and accordingly adjust the size of individual elements, which can be transported into the cave by the cave train. The project was a precedent for similar interventions in the cave.

Reflecting the flow of visitors, the structure design is in line with a request for large transparent glass surfaces and an excellent view of the aquarium interior for as many simultaneous visitors as possible while maintaining suitable conditions for animals. The size of the structure depends on enabling an optimal direct view and experience of the life of human fish as well as on providing sensitive animals with maximum protection from external influences.

BLM and Utah Cave Conservancy Offer Reward for Crystal Cave Vandals

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Salt Lake Field Office (SLFO), and the Utah Cave Conservancy are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of a recent break-in at Crystal Cave in Box Elder County. The break-in and vandalism occurred sometime between April 2011 and February 2012. Unknown persons broke through the gate, destroyed government property, and caused resource damage within the cave.

Significant caves on public lands are protected by the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act. Crystal Cave is managed by the BLM to preserve sensitive cave formations, protect bat habitat, and ensure public safety. Visitors to the cave are required to obtain a permit.
The BLM encourages anyone that has information about who was responsible for this break-in to contact SLFO law enforcement officers at 801.977.4300. All contacts will remain confidential. The cash reward will be payable based on the value of the information and outcome of the case.

Ghar Hasan cave dweller last seen in Hal Far last August

Sulumein Samake, a 26-year-old from Mali, has been identified as the man who was shot at by police this morning near Ghar Hasan.
He arrived in the Hal Far detention centre in February 2010, but was last seen in Hal Far in August 2011.

During a press conference held this evening at Police HQ, Police Commissioner John Rizzo gave more details about the accident as it happened.

Three policemen had been investigating reports that there were people living in caves near Ghar Hasan at around 07.15h. They realised that someone was inside one of the caves and asked him to come out and identify himself.

The man in the cave resisted for a while, but then came out and started shouting what Commissioner Rizzo described as ‘nonsense words’.

“He started shouting things like ‘God tell me’. They were in English but they seemed quite out of context.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Terrier Taz gets a little too adventurous

A rabbit-chasing puppy was returned unharmed to her owners after spending two days trapped underground.

Adventurous six-month-old cross-breed terrier Taz was returned to the Seldon family in Porth after joint effort to save her was mounted by the RSPCA and a team from the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue.

The animal welfare charity were called to a site near the Waun Wen Community Centre on Saturday, March 18, where they could hear the distressed pooch’s cries from above the ground.

After attempts to rescue Taz from the deep rabbit hole failed, RSPCA officers contacted the cave rescue workers, who sent a team of seven to help.

The little dog was eventually rescued at 11pm and was returned to her overjoyed owners soon after, unharmed except for a few grazes.

The dog’s delighted owners said: “Thanks so much to the RSPCA and South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue for saving Taz.

“She’s an adventurous little dog but is staying out of trouble for the moment at least and enjoying her home surroundings.”

Brian Jopling, of South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue team, said: “We are pleased to be able to use our knowledge and skills to assist the RSPCA in incidents like this and are glad there was a happy ending.”

RSPCA inspector Christine McNeil added: “Thanks to the sterling work of the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue team, this story had a happy ending.

“This successful outcome once again highlights the importance of cross agency collaboration in the cause of animal welfare.”

Source: Wales Online

Call for Articles EuroSpeleo Magazine


It's with a great pleasure that the FSE announces you the official launching of its new publication called EUROSPELEO-MAGAZINE, your new free speleological online magazine !

In it, you can publish all the articles that you or your club have already written or would like to publish soon.
This multilingual magazine full of nice photos will be red by the 50.000 cavers from the 2000 European speleological clubs all over Europe.

So we invite to send us your article as soon as possible.

For that all the information is here : http://www.eurospeleo.org/call-appel-articles.pdf

Should you have any question or suggestion please let us know at : articles@eurospeleo.eu
With the pleasure to read your articles soon !
See you soon on EuroSpeleo Magazine,

The EuroSpeleo Magazine Team

Treyarnon Bay YHA cave sewage plans objected to by residents

Cornwall Council will consider the plans on 11 April
Plans by a youth hostel to wash treated sewage into a cave on a Cornish beach are being opposed by local residents.

The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) wants to install a £250,000 system to discharge wastewater on to Treyarnon Bay.

It said clear, sterile water would be discharged and there would be a back-up system in case of error.

Some residents have said it will affect business. The plans will be considered by Cornwall Council in April.

YHA, which has been in the area for 60 years, said the current system was defective and the proposed system would carry treated sewage from the hostel down to the cave on the beach.'Contaminated' beach

Jake Chalmers, YHA property director, said: "It will actually discharge at night into a cave just on the property's boundary line and it's designed to be done at high tide when there's no possible disruption.

"We've taken the best advice we can from our own consultants, from the statutory bodies including the Environment Agency, and they've all said this system is totally appropriate."

Mammoth Cave Superintendent Patrick Reed retiring this summer after 42 years with park service

Patrick Reed
Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Patrick Reed is leaving his post later this year.

Reed has announced he will retire on June 30 after 42 years with the National Park Service, including the last six at Mammoth Cave.

He was named National Park Service Superintendent of the Year for Natural Resource Stewardship in 2009 and Southeast Region Superintendent of the Year in 2006. He started out as a seasonal maintenance worker in 1969 at Mount Rushmore National Monument and became a permanent employee the following year, working his way up as he moved to parks in Wyoming, Missouri, California, North Carolina, Colorado, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.

At Mammoth Cave, he has overseen projects including construction of the rehabilitated visitor center, expected to serve visitors for the next 40 years.

Source: The Republic

Lucy in 3.4 million-year-old cross-species cave tryst

The Burtele partial foot after cleaning
and preparation.
Now it seems that Lucy shared eastern Africa with another prehuman species, one that may have spent more time in trees than on the ground.

A 3.4-million-year-old fossil foot found in Ethiopia appears to settle the long-disputed question of whether there was only a single line of hominins — species more closely related to humans than to chimpanzees — between four million and three million years ago. The fossil record for that period had been virtually limited to the species Australopithecus afarensis, made famous by the 3.2-million-year-old Lucy skeleton.

Of perhaps more importance, scientists report in the journal Nature, published online Wednesday, the newfound foot not only belonged to a different species but also had evolved a distinctive mode of locomotion, which scientists described as “equivocal.” It clung to the trees and never adapted to terrestrial mobility outright.

The Lucy species had long before evolved almost humanlike upright walking, bipedality, as attested by the Laetoli footprints in Tanzania from as early as 3.7 million years ago. This other species was still built for climbing trees and grasping limbs. It was capable of walking, though less efficiently and probably at an awkward gait.

At a pivotal period in prehuman evolution, the discoverers concluded, two lines of hominins practiced contrasting locomotion behavior. Their feet, mostly, told the tale: the divergent, opposable big toe, long digits and other bones of the newfound species did not match the feet of afarensis. Lucy’s foot had a strong arch and the big toe was lined up with the other four digits, much like the feet of modern humans and all critical for effective bipedality, while retaining some agility for climbing trees.

Gran breathes easier after salt cave 'cure'

Ruth Brooker, who found relief from shortness of breath
after a visit to the Salt Caves, with neighbour Roger
Scoones, who said he also benefited
Gran Ruth Brooker says she has found an unusual cure for breathlessness – regular trips to a "salt cave".

Mrs Brooker, 81, of Northwood Road, Whitstable, had suffered from shortness of breath for five years. Doctors said there was nothing more they could do about the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which was blocking her lungs.

But her daughter contacted the Salt Cave clinic in Tunbridge Wells, and after four sessions Mrs Brooker says many of her symptoms have disappeared.

She said: "I'd been suffering with a constant uncontrollable cough for over five years. It started to affect my social life and also stopped me sleeping for more than about three hours. Whilst my GP was extremely patient and helpful I felt I was a lost cause.

"Even my consultant said there was nothing else that could be done to help. I had an inhaler and tablets to thin the mucous, but it had got to the stage where I cancelled engagements and went home from events, I was so embarrassed by the constant cough, sneezing and running eyes.

Wildlife Biologist Study The Bats Of Dade's Caves

Wildlife biologists Nikki Castleberry (left) and Trina
Morris prepare to take spore samples at Sitton’s Cave
at Cloudland Canyon.
“They’re just fascinating creatures when you start to study them,” said Trina Morris. “People think of them as big teeth and scary, but when you look up close they’re fuzzy and they’re incredible, the way their ears are different, and the folds on their face. They hang upside down. They’re active at night.They use echolocation and that’s really cool.”

We were standing in the parking lot of the Sitton’s Gulch trail at Cloudland Canyon one sunny day last month and Ms. Morris, a wildlife biologist, was talking about bats.

As most readers know by now, these flying mammals are threatened by a mysterious fungal infection called White Nose Syndrome, and Ms. Morris and her fellow biologist, Nikki Castleberry, both employed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in Social Circle near the University of Georgia, were here to test the bats of Cloudland Canyon’s Sitton’s Cave for WNS as well as to count them.

The biologists were accompanied by two Georgia public information employees, Rick Lavender and David Allen, who need to know as much as they could about WNS since they are responsible for disseminating news about it; and by my husband, Jerry Wallace, who as a local hobbyist familiar with Sitton’s Cave was invited to go along, take pictures and help count. His photographs accompany this article.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tests being done to determine if gray bats in Sequiota Park cave are carrying deadly fungus

Waiting for sunset, Missouri State University graduate
students (from left) Ben Hale, Josh Parris and Larisa
Bishop-Boros set up a net at the opening of a cave at
Sequiota Park. Photo by Bob Linder
The first signs of a strange fungus that kills bats might have been discovered Monday night in several endangered gray bats at Sequiota Cave.

Using a fine-mesh net stretched across the cave entrance, Missouri State University biology professor Lynn Robbins and several graduate students carefully captured 44 bats — including the rare grays — for a close-up look at the flying mammals’ health.

“For the most part the bats were clear of White Nose Syndrome,” Robbins said, referring to the fungus that has killed more than a million bats in eastern states. “But we are sending tissue samples from some gray bat wings that showed some discoloration. If there is an infection, it didn’t start here.”

The bats were released unharmed, and samples were sent to the U.S. Geological Survey’s disease laboratory in Madison, Wis.

Robbins said he should know within a few weeks whether the fungus has reached Springfield.

Confirmation of the disease in this part of Missouri would be big news in the bat world. “Oh, definitely,” Robbins said.

Mexican officials criticized for 'raping' ancient mass burial site

In Mexico this month, a cave was found with the remains of more than 160 people. As Mexico's drug war rages on, the immediate thought was this was a mass grave of people killed by drug dealers. It wasn't. And when officials determined that they swept the remains up in large trash bags and hauled them off without respect for the history they represent.

Earlier this month, the skeletal remains of more than 167 people were discovered in a cave in Chiapas, Mexico.

Initial reports suggested the find may have been a mass grave. It wouldn’t have been the first such discovery in Mexico in the past year. Mass graves have become an increasing common discovery as the country’s drug war rages on.

But the human skeletal remains found in that cave in Frontera Comalapa turned out to be unique. It wasn’t a mass grave, but a pre-Columbian bone deposit.

“This is like the first time that’s happened, at least in my administration here in the state,” said Emiliano Gallaga, director of the Chiapas office of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, known as INAH.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Video: Cave Diving Cenote Outland, Mexico


Another nice cave diving video from Slawek Packo. This time diving cenote Outland, part of Sac Aktun system: into direction Hoyo Negro and then a jump to the right.




 If your interested in this and other similar cenotes, I can recommend a nice book covering all cenotes in the area called "The Cenotes of the Riviera Maya" from Steve Gerrard (Available through Amazon by clicking the picture on the left).

Sink Hole Concerns

There was plenty of earth moving on Monday in one Altoona neighborhood as crews worked to fill in a part of an underground cavern. What started with a report of no water for a couple of city homes late last week resulted in geologic problem resurfacing that has long been an issue in the Prospect hill neighborhood of the city.

A section of First Avenue in the area of 14th Street was closed for part of Monday so that city crews could bring in the heavy equipment. The workers were called out for the latest attempt to fill in part of a gapping hole that leads to a huge underground cavern. People who live near the work zone say the sink hole in their street has the potential to be a huge problem.

The sink hole can be traced to an underground problem that City workers have been aware of at least 80 years. It was back in the 1930s that the then Fire Chief of the city noticed some problems with sinking land. In the 1960's the City hired a geologist to study the problem and issue reports for the city after researching the area. The problem area sits on a fault line and covers the entrance to an underground cavern.

About fifty years ago, one house in the 1300 block of First Avenue had to be demolished after a sink hole cracked its foundation and caused its porch to collapse. While there have been a number of attempts to repair the problem over the years, none of theme have turned out to be a permanent solution.

It was because this sink hole opens into a huge underground cavern that city workers say coming up with a permanent solution is difficult. They say the best they can do is to make sure the area is safe and the ground is stable.

While the deep underground cavern is still there, city workers expected build a stable base over the entrance that will allow for permanent repairs to be made to the street, sidewalk and utility lines in the area.

Tiny new scorpion found glowing in Death Valley

A compound in the exoskeletons of adult scorpions
causes them to glow in UV light.
Captured in nighttime search, species is among smallest ever discovered in North America.

Researchers have announced the discovery of a tiny scorpion in Death Valley National Park, an unusual location, they said, since it lies hundreds of miles north of the known habitat of the newfound species' closest relatives.

Searchers equipped with ultraviolet flashlights spotted a single male specimen near a pile of rocks during a nighttime survey — adult scorpions give off an eerie glow in ultraviolet light.

"When you come across a scorpion, they glow a bright green color, which is really easy to see in contrast to the surrounding darkness," Michael M. Webber, a University of Las Vegas Nevada Ph.D. candidate, told OurAmazingPlanet in an email.

Webber is co-author on a paper describing the scorpion, dubbed Wernerius inyoensis, published this week in the journal ZooKeys.

Matthew R. Graham, also a UNLV Ph.D. candidate, and the researcher who found the tiny scorpion on a rocky slope, said the scarcity of the scorpions and the location where the specimen was discovered suggest the elusive creatures may live underground.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two New Caves With Rock Art Discovered In India

Maraiyur, located near Udumalaipettai, houses many Neolithic
and megalithic structures made of stone and granite.
In an exciting find, a young archaeologist has found two caves with stunning rock art belonging to the prehistoric and early historic era. The caves, ‘Vanapechialai’ and the ‘Vanaraparai’ abound with red and white ochre paintings and are located in the Udumalaipettai forest range in Tirupur district.

Sharing his discovery with Express, C Vijayakumar says Vanapechialai has a large number of faded red-ochre paintings. “There are six red hand marks and certain unidentifiable images. However, there are six bright parallel lines in a zig zag fashion in red ochre resembling flickering of flames.” In the same cave, there is also a white-ochre painting, which portrays a man seated on an elephant (22 cm long, 18 cm wide). Vijayakumar says the white-ochre drawing has been done over red-ochre.

The Vanaraparai cave has the famed ‘hand’ mark, which is early man’s first effort in documenting his identity. “It is imprinted twice in pure red-ochre. In the right hand, the ring finger is missing, suggesting that the imprint is that of the village chieftain or Moopan. In primitive societies during pre-historic period, the Moopan’s ring finger was always cut.”

The cave - big enough to house 150 cows - has paintings ranging between 5 cm and 32 cm. There are altogether 28 sketches of early man, besides images of animals, which include a couple of elephants, men on deer with a primitive hunting weapon, monkeys, the sun and a faded moon.

New Spider Species Found In Caves of Central Java

Amauropelma matakecil
Scientists have identified a new species of spider in a network of limestone caves in Purworejo, Central Java, that they believe belongs to a genus previously only found in eastern Australia.

Cahyo Rahmadi, from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), and Jeremy Miller, from the Naturalis Museum in Leiden, the Netherlands, named the new species Amauropelma matakecil, in reference to its vestigial eyes that are smaller than those of non-cave-dwelling spiders.

“The eyes on this specimen are so small that they just appear as transparent dots on its head,” Cahyo told Antara in an e-mail.

He added the spider was known to inhabit just three caves in the karst, or limestone, Menoreh Hills area of Purworejo, on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta.

Cahyo and Miller figure that the new species “appears to fit best in the genus Amauropelma,” based on shared characteristics such as the eye arrangement, the leg spination pattern, the presence of superior tarsal claws and the lack inferior tarsal claws.

However, they also noted that A. matakecil “exhibits characteristics that are not typical of Amauropelma,” including hard rather than soft teeth and differently placed copulatory openings.

They also acknowledged that the new species has eyes, while the only other troglodytic, or cave-dwelling, Amauropelma species, A. undara, does not.

A. undara, like all known species in the genus Amauropelma, is currently only found in the Australian state of Queensland.

Carbon and Boundaries in Karst 2013 - Second Circular

A Karst Waters Institute Symposium on
Carbon and Boundaries in Karst

January 7 to 11, 2013
Carlsbad, New Mexico

Co-sponsored by the National Cave and Karst Research Institute

Background

There is growing interest in the dynamics of both inorganic and organic carbon in karst systems, and especially in the flux of carbon and nutrients between the surface and subsurface and between different components in the karst subsurface. This symposium is about these and other questions connected to carbon in karst and boundaries in karst. It is especially timely both because of rapid advances in the field and the importance of carbon sequestration in global climate change The symposium will highlight recent advances in biology, geology, and hydrology that are helping us understand the dynamics of karst ecosystems, especially with respect to carbon. There will be both invited lectures and contributed posters covering the following topics: The Upper Boundary — Epikarst The Lower Boundary — Phreatic Zone Lateral Inputs — Insurgences Lateral Outputs — Resurgences CO2 — Processing and Storage Organic Carbon — Sources and Quality Synthesis and Large Scale Models.

As is the tradition with KWI meetings, the symposium will be aggressively interdisciplinary and international. More information about KWI and past meetings can be found here.

2nd International Cave Monitoring Workshop

Three years after the 1st International Cave Monitoring Workshop held in Gibraltar (26 February – 1 March 2009) a second workshop is planned along the lines of the initial concept of two days of informal presentations with discussion and a joint cave trip.

The planned dates for this workshop are April 18-22, 2012.

The workshop will focus entirely on the practical aspects of environmental monitoring in caves, and will encompass strategies for monitoring of the hydrology and meteorology of cave systems, instrumentation and data logging, sampling and analysis protocols, and in-situ studies of carbonate precipitation and other cave processes.

More details can be found by following this link.

See some nice pictures of installing an automatic cave water sampler in Bärenhöhle by Robbie Shone.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

TV series in hot water over destruction of historical cave

The Ottoman-site TV series “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” used
Yarımburgaz Cave without permission while shooting.
Workers who allegedly damaged the historical Yarımburgaz Cave while shooting a TV series there without permission are now facing a prison sentence of up to five years.

Used recently without permission as the set for one of the most watched TV series in Turkey, the Ottoman Empire-set “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century), the Yarımburgaz Cave, which dates back 15,000 years, came into the spotlight because of damage that was caused during the shooting of several episodes of the TV series.

According to a Radikal daily report on Sunday, two young archaeologists -- Yiğit Ozar and Berkay Dinçer -- who were watching episodes 43 and 44 of “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” realized that what they were seeing might be the Yarımburgaz Cave.

After they verified that the series was shot in the cave, they filed a complaint against the TV series.

Due to the complaint from the two archeologists, professionals from the İstanbul Archaeological Museum went to the cave to examine it and drafted a report based on their findings. The report was sent to the İstanbul Public Prosecutor's Office. Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Law 2863 stipulates a prison sentence of up to five years and fines equivalent to TL 5,000 per day for anyone who damages historical sites under protection.

The comedy series “Leyla ile Mecnun” is another TV series that used the Yarımburgaz Cave as a set for its episodes.

The Yarımburgaz Cave, located near İstanbul, is the oldest known evidence of human presence in Turkey. It is placed among the first-degree archeological sites and is on the List of Cultural Property under Enhanced Protection.

Noting that damaging historical sites is a crime, Dinçer told Radikal that a plan to protect the cave should be drawn up as soon as possible and added, “We cannot protect the cave using only metal bars.”

Source: Todays Zaman

Saturday, March 24, 2012

4 rappellers trapped in northern cave, Israel

Four rappellers have been trapped in a cave near the village of Beit Jann in the Western Galilee. Three have been rescued so far. Emergency services crews are attempting to extract the fourth from the cave, which is 30 meters deep.

Two of the climbers were lightly injured and were taken to a nearby hospital

Source: YNetNews

Speleofest 2012 in Kentucky



Friday, March 23, 2012

Prehistoric tool made from antler found in Burren cave - hammerhead found among bones and pottery

The Burren in County Clare
Experts believe the antler hammerhead found in a Burren cave is “likely to be prehistoric”.

Archaeologists also found the skeleton of a teenager, believed to be from the 16th or 17th century, along with shards of pottery.

The skull of the skeleton and the hammer head were found by cavers in June 2011, in a small cave in the Moneen Mountain outside Ballyvaughan, County Clare. Ireland’s National Museum Service carried out a ten-days excavations last August.

Marion Dowd, for the Institute of Technology (IT) Sligo, presented their finding in Tubber, County Offaly, this week. She said the cave was used about 3,000 years ago, at the end of the Medieval period.

She said “The discovery of the fabulous antler hammerhead is hugely exciting…I can’t find any other parallels in Irish archaeology.”

Tests to confirm the origin of the red deer stag, aged six-and-a-half, have not been completed.
Dowd said in the an Irish context the discovery “is very interesting and very significant".

The find includes pottery shards and butchered animal bone.

DENR conducts regional training on cave assessment

In a bid to conserve, protect and manage caves and cave resources in Soccsksargen region, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here conducted a two-day skills training on cave assessment.

The training held in Maitum town, Sarangani last March 15 and 16 was aimed at providing participants with knowledge and skills in appraisal of caves and cave ss assessment to determine appropriate sustainable uses of caves.

Participants included some 60 trainees from local government units in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, and Sarangani, and the DENR.

Part of the training requirement was an actual assessment of Cave Angko in Maitum. They were guided by regional cave focal person Joy C. Ologuin.

Protected Areas and Wildlife Division chief Ali M. Hadjinasser, one of the resource persons, explained that cave assessment is a comprehensive data gathering and inventory of cave resources that must be accomplished at the site level, hence the role of the local government is very crucial.

On other hand, councilor and Maitum's chairman of the Committee on Culture, Arts and Tourism Jess C. Bascuña emphasized that protection an conservation of several caves in the municipality has been part of their local programs.

DENR’s conduct of the said training also forms part of the efforts of local government units to promote and develop ecotourism sites, which have been identified as a potential source of local revenue as well as a major contributor to national economy.

Protection and management of the country’s caves is a priority of the DENR as mandated in Republic Act 9072 or the "National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act."

Caves are considered unique, natural and non-renewable resources with important scientific, economic, educational, cultural, historical and aesthetic values. They are also home to specialized mineral formations with unique and diverse flora and fauna. (DEDoguiles –PIA 12/CG Valdez/MCalungsod- Locsin-DENR 12).

Beautiful new cave discovered in Quang Binh Province

The recently discovered cave in Quang Binh Province
by the British Royal Cave Research Association
A team of explorers of the British Royal Cave Research Association led by Dr. Howard Limbert on Thursday said that they have discovered a cave which is more beautiful than the exquisite Son Doong Cave in the central province of Quang Binh.

The recently discovered cave in Quang Binh Province by the British Royal Cave Research Association

Son Doong Cave has been recognised as the biggest cave in the world by National Geographic.

The new cave is called Va Cave and is located among a group of eight other caves. The team of explorers discovered it after a study and research of the site in the province. The British Royal Cave Research Association has so far discovered 15 new caves.

Among them, Va Cave is said to have stalactites that are even more stunning and spectacular than those in the Son Doong Cave.

The explorers said that they had never seen a cave with such beautiful stalactites, as much as 1.7kilometres in length.

According to initial reports, the Va Cave was found by a local man named Ho Khanh, who took the explorers to the site of the cave, located 400metres from the Son Doong Cave.

Source: Saigon Daily

Body of hiker found in 215m-deep cave

Li Xiong, 23, was one of a five-member expedition team on their way to Hoh Xil, anisolated region in the northwestern part of the Tibetan plateau in China, when theystopped by the cave in Zhuomu village, Zhenxiong county, in foggy conditions around3:50 pm on Monday.

His teammates recall how, despite their warnings, he was so captivated by the sceneryhe was determined to get closer.

"Had he not insisted on feeling his way to it, he could have avoided the tragedy," said He, one of his travel pals. "There were slippery stones everywhere. It was sodangerous."

Li slipped on one step, and then fell into the cave in a split second, recalled Xu,another teammate on the trip.

Two rescue teams raced to the scene, working throughout the night trying to reach Li,but they could not reach him due to their inadequate rescue equipment.

It was only on the third day that neighboring Guizhou province sent a team to the sitethat Li's body was finally found 215 meters down.

It was Li's first hiking trip, according to his mother. "I did not want him to go in the firstplace," she said. "But he had made up his mind."

Source: Peoples Daily

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cave Explorer & Author to Visit Community

Chris Nicola
The North Shore Chavurah of Rabbis community-wide Yom HaShoah Commemoration will feature Chris Nicola, cave explorer and author of The Secret of Priest’s Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story, on Wednesday, April 18 at 7:45 PM at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El. The evening will include memorial prayers, a candle lighting ceremony, and a special presentation. Copies of the book will be for sale and a book signing will follow.

Chris Nicola has organized and led over 40 expeditions to Africa, the former Soviet Union, Oceana, the Caribbean, and throughout North, South, and Central America. He spent ten years unearthing one of the most amazing underground survival stories of all time: how 38 Jews survived the Holocaust by living in a massive cave system in the Ukraine for more than 500 days. Nicola holds Bachelor's degrees in Criminal Justice, Forensic Psychology, and Physics, as well as a Master's degree in Criminology. He currently resides in New York where he works as an investigator for New York State but much of his free time is spent continuing his research on the Priest's Grotto story, teaching exploratory caving and rope climbing/rappelling skills to scouts and members of the Explorers Club, and running the Priest's Grotto Heritage Project.

While in the Chicago area, Nicola will also visit the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, the Chicago Jewish Day School, Lakeside Congregation, the Cohen Religious School at NSS Beth El, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Source: Trib Local

Thadou Students' Association (TSA) objects to cave exploration team

Thadou Students' Association (TSA), Chandel district has expressed objection to the entry of a joint team from Department of History, Manipur University and Archaeological Survey of India, Guwahati Circle, who could not even spell the names of local villages and the caves correctly for exploration of some caves in Chandel district.

In a statement, General Secretary of TSA, Chandel district James Haokip pointed out that local people entrust such matters to Kuki Research Forum and appealed to all the outsiders not to interfere in the matters/affairs related to the district.

TSA has also appealed to all concerned for prior consultation if they wish to visit any historical places in Chandel district to avoid any untoward incidents in future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Studies to test feasibility of cave projects

Sha Tin Sewage Treatment Works
The government is moving towards burying bits of the city - the unsightly ones - in underground caverns, freeing up more land for housing and economic development, according to officials.

Two feasibility studies were in the planning stage, and officials would seek funding approval from lawmakers in April and May, Deputy Secretary for Development Enoch Lam Tin-sing said yesterday.

The studies would give the government a basis for policy guidelines to encourage cavern developments for both public and private sectors - following the example of some European countries - he said.

The idea of using caverns for unpopular utilities - like sewage treatment plants, fuel storage depots, refuse transfer stations and columbariums - has been under discussion for over a year.

The scheme will begin by identifying suitable rock caverns to house 400 government facilities that can be relocated, notably the not-in-my-backyard utilities disliked by nearby residents.

"Like European countries, we can see a local trend of vacating land by putting facilities inside caverns," Lam said. "The extension of the campus of the University of Hong Kong is one example. We expect more from the private sector," he said, adding that caverns have been used as wine cellars, data centres and car parks in Finland and other countries.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Body of Tennessee diver found in Ginnie Springs

Sign inside the Devil's Eye warning unexperienced divers
A Tennessee man’s body was found Sunday in a cave in Ginnie Springs after he apparently drowned while diving there two days earlier, police said.

Steve Bennett, 59, of Hendersonville, Tenn., arrived at the springs, situated west of High Springs in Gilchrist County, on Friday and rented diving gear from the privately owned Ginnie Springs Outdoors park and campground, Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office Lt. David Aderholt said Monday.

Aderholt said an investigator found a certificate in Bennett’s car allowing Bennett to do open-water diving, though it wasn’t clear whether he was certified to dive in caves.

“Whether or not he had any experience in terms of cave diving, we do not know,” Aderholt said.

Bennett’s body was found by a group of divers in the cave system at the Devil’s Eye portion of the springs.

There didn’t appear to be anyone else diving with him.

“It appears he arrived alone and was diving alone,” Aderholt said.

The body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Gainesville for an autopsy.


About the cave: 
The system has two entrances, Devil's Eye and Devil's Ear, located in close proximity to one another. The Devil's Eye cave system is among the most popular and frequently dived caves in the world. With over 30,000 feet of mapped passageway, divers can spend a lifetime of active cave diving and still not see all of it.



Additional Resources:

Laemostenus (Sphodroides) tiouirii, a new troglophile beetle from Tunisia

In Tunesia a new type of troglophilic ground-beetle was discovered.

The species had been studied by Borislav Guéorguiev and is called Laemostenus (Sphodroides) tiouirii.

Scientific paper

Guéorguiev B. 2012. Laemostenus (Sphodroides) tiouirii, a new troglophile beetle from Tunisia
(Coleoptera: Carabidae). – Historia naturalis bulgarica, 20: 69-74.

Abstract
A new brachypterous, troglophile ground-beetle, Laemostenus (Sphodroides)  tiouirii sp. n. (type locality: NE Tunisia, jebel Serj Mt., cave of Mine) is described and illustrated.

The new species possesses a set of important characters which put it close to/ or within the basal grade of the subgenus, which contains L.  aelleni (Antoine), L.  foucauldi (De Miré), and L.  recticollis (Schaufuss); the new taxon is also closely related to L. alluaudi Bedel. Laemostenus tiouirii sp. n. is however easily recognized from all the above-mentioned species by the combination of four characters: absence of angular protrusion on the anterior margin of male profemor, edentate claws of the onychium, differing shape of the median lobe of aedeagus in lateral aspect, and finer structure of the right paramere.

An identification key for the Tunisian species of Sphodroides is provided.

Key words: Coleoptera, Carabidae, Sphodrini, new species, Tunisia

Mississippi diver dies at Vortex Spring

Larry Higginbotham
A Mississippi man died in Vortex Spring on Saturday, almost a year-and-half after a Tennessee diver disappeared in the same underwater caves.

Larry Higginbotham, 43, of Biloxi, Miss., had gone to the spring to dive Saturday at 10:45 a.m., said Chief Deputy Harry Hamilton and Sgt. Michael Raley with the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office.

“When he didn’t return, his girlfriend contacted the Vortex Spring management, who in turn contacted the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said Higginbotham’s body was recovered Sunday evening with the aide of volunteer cave divers.

The death comes as an Investigation Discovery documentary was set to air on the disappearance of Ben McDaniel, 30, of Collierville, Tenn., who was reported missing at Vortex Spring in August 2010. His body was never recovered.

Vortex Spring produces 28 million gallons of crystal-clear water daily at year-round temperature of 68 degrees. Vortex waters flow out of the 225-foot-diameter spring that flows into Blue Creek, which empties into the Choctawhatchee River, according to the website.

Hamilton, when coordinating the search for McDaniel in 2010, said the cave at Vortex Spring is very challenging and extremely dangerous. The bottom of the spring bowl is sandy, with limestone near the vent. So far, divers have penetrated the cave 1,500 feet at a depth of 150 feet.

Dive training is offered at the park and the underwater cave is accessible to 310 feet, at which point further entry is blocked by a steel gate; only certified divers are allowed beyond that point.

Source: News Herald

Former Chinese cave-dweller plans return

A Chinese man who was formerly one of the 30 million people in the country who live in caves said he plans to return to cave-dwelling when he retires.

Ren Shouhua, a middle-aged man who said he moved out of his cave on the outskirts of Yanan, China, when he obtained a job in the city in his 20s, said there are many benefits to cave life and he plans to return to a cave when he retires, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

"It's cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It's quiet and safe," Ren said. "When I get old, I'd like to go back to my roots."

He said many of the caves, which house about 30 million people in China, are reinforced with brick masonry and many even have electricity and running water.

"Most aren't so fancy, but I've seen some really beautiful caves: high ceilings and spacious with a nice yard out front where you can exercise and sit in the sun," Ren said.

Many of the Chinese cave-dwellers are in Shaanxi province, which contains many cliffs of porous soil that make cave digging an easy and cost-effective housing option.

"The cave topology is one of the earliest human architectural forms; there are caves in France, in Spain, people still living in caves in India," said David Wang, an architecture professor at Washington State University in Spokane who has written widely on the subject. "What is unique to China is the ongoing history it has had over two millenniums."

Source: UP
I


Proteo Caving Club celebrates 50th birthday

The Italian Caving Club Proteo from Vicenza celebrates this year it's 50th anniversary.

A special webpage was constructed. People interested in some historical pictures can take a look in the photo-section at https://sites.google.com/site/cinquantesimoproteo/5.

On this page you can also find more events related to the celebrations.

Congratulations!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cenote Calimba Cave Dive Video - Yucatan

Cave diving video of Slawek Packo in Yucatan's Cenote Calimba (Sac Aktun System):



14-member exploration team leaves for Khomunnom cave

A 14-member team which is on a mission to explore Khomunnom cave in Shajik Tampak in Chandel district was flagged off from the DM College of Science campus by E Binoy, ex-Chief Engineer of PWD, today at around 10:30 am.

The flagging off ceremony of the exploration mission being organised by the DM College of Science was also attended B Haridas Sharma, retired Director, Agriculture Department and Dr P Ranbir, Principal, DM College of Science among others.

The exploration team comprises 10 males and four female members who are researchers, scholars and students.

The team is being monitored and observed by retired Colonel RK Rajendra.

The team would explore the Khomunnon cave and it is expected to open a new chapter in the history of the world.

Speaking on the occasion, E Binoy said that exploration and excavation of Khomunnom cave, which is to be taken up for the first time by DM College of Science, is indeed appreciable and at the same time important.

The excavation of the cave would enable the team to explore the prehistoric events and trace the true history of the state.

He observed that it is a good sign that developed countries are investing huge amount of money for investigation and study of prehistoric sites.

Discoveries from such deep exploration would enable us to learn more and shed light on the truth of human history.

B Haridas informed that the excavated things from the cave would be carbon tested to trace the history of human settlement in Manipur.

This would further strengthen the identity of the Manipuris.

Source: Hueiyen News Service

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Re-examine rare fossil find site, there likely are others, archaeologist urges during Vero Beach presentation

Noted British archaeologist and Ice Age art expert Paul Bahn came to Indian River County to examine the carved fossil bone found in Vero Beach in 2009 that is the only Pleistocene era artifact of its kind found in North America.

On Sunday afternoon, Bahn, who is also an author, translator and BBC commentator, spoke at the Emerson Center during a presentation hosted by the Old Vero Ice Age Sites Committee. While most of Bahn's presentation focused on Ice Age cave art in Europe, he outlined several findings that might offer lessons for future excavations or studies of the Vero Man site.

The committee is raising money to fund a re-excavation of the site, and an international team recently completed a site survey with ground-penetrating radar. Committee chairwoman Susan Grandpierre told the crowd of about 200 attendees that the survey's preliminary findings reveal undisturbed ground that might contain artifacts like the one found by James Kennedy, but the final survey results are not available.

Kennedy's find was a carving of a mammoth on what is thought to be a mammoth or sloth bone, and was authenticated by scientists at the University of Florida. It is thought to be 13,000 to 20,000 years old. Excavating the Vero Man site, which was discovered in 1913 and is one of only two locations in the United States where fossilized human remains have been discovered alongside a variety of Ice Age, or Pleistocene, mammal remains, is expected to cost about $1.3 million, according to Grandpierre.

How Ropes Are Made


Bulgarian Archaeologists Claim Oldest Monastery in Europe

The ancient shrine at the St. Athanasius monastery
in Bulgaria's Stara Zagora region.
Bulgarian archaeologists have uncovered what they believe is the oldest Christian monastery in Europea near the village of Zlatna Livada in southern Bulgaria.

According to latest archaeological research, the St. Athanasiusmonastery, still functioning near the village, has been founded in 344 bySt. Athanasius himself, reports the BGNES agency.

Until now, the Candida Casa monastery, founded in 371 AD in Galloway, Scotland, was believed to be the oldest Christian monastery in Europe, followed by the St. Martin monastery in the Pyrénées-Orientales, France (373 AD).

Archaeologists have examined objects in a hermit's cave and shrine located near the present St. Athanasius monastery in Bulgaria, and found evidence that the great saint might have resided there.

Additional studies in archives at the Vatican have confirmed that St. Athanasiuswas present at the Church Council in Serdica (modern Sofia) in 343 AD.

He then travelled on to Constantinople and is believed to have stopped in the area of present Zlatna Livada, which is located in Thrace on the ancient way betweenSerdica and Constantinople.

The small village of Zlatna Livada (pop. 123) is located near the Bulgarian town ofChirpan, Stara Zagora region.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria (296/8-373) was for a long time Bishop ofAlexandria, and is revered as one of the greatest Christian saints.

He did extensive work in theology and was one of the key figures in establishing the dogmata of Christian faith that are still accepted by Eastern Orthodox, Catholicand Protestant Christians alike.

Source: Novinite

In China, millions make themselves at home in caves

Ma Liangshui, 76, has lived in caves around Yanan his entire life.
Like many peasants from the outskirts of Yanan, China, Ren Shouhua was born in a cave and lived there until he got a job in the city and moved into a concrete-block house.

His progression made sense as he strove to improve his life. But there's a twist: The 46-year-old Ren plans to move back to a cave when he retires.

"It's cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It's quiet and safe," said Ren, a ruddy-faced man with salt-and-pepper hair who moved to the Shaanxi provincial capital, Xian, in his 20s. "When I get old, I'd like to go back to my roots."

More than 30 million Chinese people live in caves, many of them in Shaanxi province where the Loess plateau, with its distinctive cliffs of yellow, porous soil, makes digging easy and cave dwelling a reasonable option.

Each of the province's caves, yaodong, in Chinese, typically has a long vaulted room dug into the side of a mountain with a semicircular entrance covered with rice paper or colorful quilts. People hang decorations on the walls, often a portrait of Mao Tse-tung or a photograph of a movie star torn out of a glossy magazine.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Funny Video: Winter Caving

Swiftlet numbers dwindling in Niah caves

The Great Cave of Niah is where the swiftlets’ nests are harvested. 
Only around 100,000 black-nest swiftlets (Aerodramus maximus) remain in the limestone caves of the Niah National Park.

This is a drastic drop compared to the around 1.7 million found in the 1930s.

According to the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), the decrease is mainly due to the harvesting of the edible nests, which are considered a delicacy and even aphrodisiac in Asia.

Niah park warden Haidar Ali told The Borneo Post Adventure Team (BAT) on Thursday that SFC’s main focus is increasing the number of black-nest swiftlets to ensure the species thrives in the future.

SFC sets temporary bans every year on the local community, who have licenses, from harvesting the nests.

“During these periods, we allow the swiftlets to nest their eggs and help to increase its population,” Haidar explained.

He stressed that the licensed harvesters also do not harvest every day when the ban is lifted, working only when the nests are plentiful.

A master plan on managing national parks and totally protected areas (TPA) nationwide, he said, was formulated by the Malaysian and Danish governments through a project between 2001 and 2003.

A black-nest swiftlet perched by the wall of the cave.
“Since then we have had proper management of the bird population and controlled the harvesting activities. This is also to ensure the ecosystem for the birds is also maintained.”

Four other areas involved in the project are the Lambir National Park, Bukit Tiban National Park, Similajau National Park and Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary.

He added that the government has given 86 licenses to the people of Sepupok and Tanjong Belipat to harvest bird’s nests in the caves of Niah National Park.

As much as 95 per cent of the harvesting is conducted in the Great Cave of Niah.

Raw black-nest swiftlet nests can be sold to traders for around RM100 per kg, depending on the quality.

Source: The Borneo Post

5th International Workshop on Ice Caves


Barzio (LC), Valsassina, Grigna, Italy
September 16 – 23, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Once thought lost, the rock-art images of ancient peoples are seen again

Stones were once canvas for stories. We marked milestones and journeys on rocks, painting vivid images of big hunts, mighty warriors and spiritual quests. Tens of thousands of tales have been told in bright shades of ochre – stories that, under the stress of weather and time, have been fading from our landscape. Lost forever in some cases, or so we thought.

The digital age is breathing new life into ancient rock art around the globe, from Mexican caves to the Sahara Desert to the mountains and foothills of Western Canada. With the help of NASA-inspired software called DStretch, pictographs no longer visible to the naked eye are being revived, giving cultural archivists a fresh look into the past and a vital new preservation tool.

The software has allowed Parks Canada to uncover myriad hidden treasures at aboriginal pictograph sites in British Columbia and Alberta. Forgotten tales are resurfacing.

“It opens an entirely new chapter in rock art analysis and … rock art preservation,” said Parks Canada archeologist Brad Himour. “DStretch has the ability to bring back images and pictographs that we would have thought of as being lost up until just very recently.”

Briefing: What's Killing All of the Bats? And Why Should We Be Worried?

Senator Leahy, Senator Cardin, and Senator Lautenberg are hosting a briefing and discussion of White-Nose Syndrome in bats, an emerging ecological and animal welfare crisis that poses a threat to agriculture, the environment, and economic activity that is spreading across the country.

White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is estimated to have killed well over five million bats since its discovery in 2006. Since then, it has caused the most precipitous decline of North American wildlife in the past century. With the announcement yesterday of the discovery of WNS in Alabama, a total of 17 states and four Canadian Provinces have been confirmed with the disease. This finding in Alabama represents the southern-most occurrence of WNS in North America.

The loss of bats will likely have serious consequences, costing our nation's farmers billions of dollars <http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Products/Publications/23069a/23069a.pdf>. Since bats eat many insects, including pests that damage crops such as corn, cotton, and potatoes, and that carry diseases such as West Nile Virus. Mining, energy development, tourism, and other industries will be affected if more bat species are declared threatened or endangered. And the absence of this keystone predator may have profound impacts on the environment.

You are invited to attend this briefing to hear from leading experts who will address these topics and more, including what can be done to stop WNS.

Speakers:
  • Jeremy Coleman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - National White-nose Syndrome Coordinator
  • Paul Phifer, Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services - USFWS Northeast Region
  • David Blehert, Microbiologist for the USGS National Wildlife Health Center

Emmy-winning 'lost tribes’ journalist Jacobovici to address Friedman patrons, trustees

Emmy award-winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, seen in
a cave during filming in Jerusalem, will share his journey
to uncover the secrets of the “Lost Tribes of Israel" Tuesday
at the Lorraine & Jack N. Friedman Commission for Jewish
Education’s annual Patron and Trustee event.
Emmy award-winning filmmaker and New York Times best-selling author Simcha Jacobovici will share his journey to uncover the secrets of the “Lost Tribes of Israel.”

He will speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Lorraine & Jack N. Friedman Commission for Jewish Education’s annual Patron and Trustee event at the Palm Beach Country Club, 760 N. Ocean Blvd .

Jacobovici’s discoveries form the basis for creating Quest for the Lost Tribes. The documentary follows Jacobovici from his meetings with the Taliban, to an ancient Jewish presence on the island of Djerba, to China, India and throughout the Middle East.

For the past 10 years, Jacobovici has applied his journalistic skills to historical and archaeological investigations. He calls this technique “investigative archaeology.” As a result, Jacobovici has also produced the documentaries The Exodus Decoded and The Lost Tomb of Jesus. He also hosted three seasons of the series The Naked Archaeologist.

How to turn caves into giant batteries

How do we build a world that's less dependent on fossil fuels? One solution is right under your feet. Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) is a very boring name for a very awesome system that turns the Earth itself into a giant battery. Experts say it's one of the most cost-effective ways to store energy on a massive scale—something that we'll have to do if we want to use more wind and solar power, and less coal and natural gas. Here's how it works.

Every day, in more ways than we even realize, you and I depend on the reliability of our electric grid-the network of wires that connect power plants, houses, and businesses in an endless circuit. But that grid is flawed in a lot of ways, some of which hinder our ability to make energy more sustainable. For instance, the grid has no storage, at least not enough to matter. And that means that it's not as reliable as we think it is.

At any given moment, there must be almost exactly the same amount of electricity being produced as there is being consumed. If the balance tilts either way-even by a fraction of a percent-it could lead to a blackout. To simply keep the lights on, the grid has to be constantly monitored, with controllers predicting demand and making small adjustments, minute-by-minute, to supply. This happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The job is hard enough with coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydro power plants, which can increase or decrease production more-or-less on demand. As we rely more on wind and solar power, though, it'll get harder. That's because the output from those energy sources is more dependent on the weather than on what the grid needs. If you've got a lot of electric demand, but not much wind, you can't ask a wind farm to produce more electricity.

Seven new grottoes discovered in Phong Nha-Ke Bang

Son Doong Cave
Mr. Ho Khanh, who discovered Son Doong Cave and joined a recent exploration of a group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, says that the group, led by Dr. Howard Limbert, discovered many caves during this one-week trip.

Khanh says that the newly-discovered caves are located in remote areas and they are named Gio (wind), Con Chay, Ky and Hai Cua (two doors).

According to Khanh, these caves are untouched and have many beautiful stalactites. British scientists are measuring the length of these caves.

The complex of caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang holds many records: the area with the largest system of caves, the area with the highest number of underground rivers, and having the largest and longest dry cave.

The most famous cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang is Son Doong. The cave was found by a Ho Khanh, a local man in 1991. However, not until 2009 was it made known to the public when a group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Dr. Howard Limbert, conducted a survey in Phong Nha-Ke Bang from April 10-14, 2009. Their progress was stopped by a large calcite wall. According to Limbert, this cave is five times larger than the Phong Nha cave, previously considered the biggest cave in Vietnam. The biggest chamber of Son Doong is over five kilometers in length, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide. With these dimensions, Son Doong overtakes Deer Cave in Malaysia to take the title of the world's largest cave.

The cave has been known worldwide after a report and pictures of British scientists’ exploration were published on the National Geographic journal in late 2010.

Source: Vietnamnet

Archaeology conference March 16-18 at Mammoth Cave National Park

A customized tour of Mammoth Cave and an opportunity to visit the newly upgraded visitor center will be highlights of the 29th Annual Kentucky Heritage Council Archaeology Conference convening this weekend (March 16-18) at Mammoth Cave National Park. The conference is co-sponsored by the WKU Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology, the WKU Office of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologists.

The conference is the primary opportunity for professional archaeologists working in Kentucky to share research, project updates and important findings from their investigation of historic and prehistoric archaeological sites across the state. Paper and poster presentations will cover a wide range of topics, including:

Archaic occupation of a well-known Mississippian site.

Little-known rockshelter and cave sites in Jefferson County.

Transitional Woodland/Mississippian sites in the Falls area of Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.

Various Fort Ancient studies.

Lake Shasta Caverns receive award

The National Park Service has notified Lake Shasta Caverns they have been awarded the Natural National Landmark (NNL) designation.

This has been a 40-year process with the original application sent in 1974.

This award is issued within the criteria of the condition and quality of the caves, rarity and value to science and education.

We have waited so long to receive this designation and we are ecstatic, said Matt Doyle, caverns geveral manager. We expect an increase in guest attendance from out of the area due to this recognition.

Lake Shasta Caverns are a network of caves located near the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake and date back at least 200 million years, formed by flowing water.

Made entirely of limestone, these caves feature every type of possible formation, including stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, columns and flowstone.

With a total of 35 Natural National Landmark sites in California, Lake Shasta Caverns now becomes number 36.

The closest cave with this designation Is Black Chasm Cave and is located 219 miles away.

Lake Shasta Caverns is open to the public with daily tours all year long. The caverns are located at 20359 Shasta Caverns Road, just off Interstate 5, north of Shasta Lake.

For more information visit the website at www.lakeshastacaverns.com or call 1-800-795-CAVE (2283) or 238-2341.

Researchers Send Neutrino Message Through Solid Stone

For the first time, a team of U.S. researchers have successfully used a beam of neutrinos–extremely low mass particles that can travel at the speed of light–to transmit a message through an obstacle.

According to a Wednesday article from Ars Technica reporter Casey Johnston, the scientists, who were representing the University of Rochester and North Carolina State University (NC State), fired the neutrinos through roughly 780 feet of solid bedrock. When the particles emerged on the other side, the recipients were clearly able to make out the intended message, which was quite simply the word “neutrino.”

The neutrinos were produced at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab (Fermilab) facility located near Chicago, using one of their particle accelerators to produce the high-energy beam and then the MINERVA detector, a multi-ton detector located in a cave more than 300 feet below the Earth’s surface, to read the binary code-message, Rebecca Boyle reported on Thursday.

Caverns volunteer work 'spring break' for Texas students

A group of Texas A&M University students this past week dispelled the myth that when spring break rolls around, college students turn into party animals and spend a lot of money.

The students showed Carlsbad Caverns National Park staff they were willing to roll up their sleeves, perform manual labor and have fun doing it.

The dozen students and their staff advisor signed up for their school's annual alternative spring break program and found this year they were heading to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

"They were awesome and incredible. I was just blown away," said Sam Denman, park archeologist, in describing the group's work ethic and willingness to learn about the park. "I hope they set a trend for other students to volunteer."

Christine Jones, a junior at A&M, said this was her third year as a volunteer with alternative spring break and the program has taken her to different parts of the country.

"Every year we plan a trip. This year, we had planned to go to Florida, but that didn't work out. Our trip coordinator sent out e-mails and the people at Carlsbad Caverns National Park replied first," Jones said. "Coming here has been awesome. We shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears because sometimes the work was hard. But we all bonded with each other and the rangers that worked with us."

The students, during their week-long volunteer stint, cleaned lint from formations in the cave, removed barbed wire and old telephone poles and lines along the park escarpment, and helped clean a historical dump site.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Three New Cave Art Sites Found in Cuba

Three new stations of cave art were discovered in the Imias Wild Reserve, to the southeast of the Cuban eastern province of Guantanamo.

The paintings are characterized by the use of red, a color that has been seen in only other three stations in the eastern region of the island.

The finding was made during a joint expedition by the Pedro Borras and Fernando Ortiz groups, both members of the Speleological Society of Cuba, and the Cuban Cave Art Research Group (GCIAR), of the Institute of Anthropology.

According to Granma newspaper, the Pedro Borras Group’s president Efren Jaimez Salgado and the GCIAR national deputy coordinator Divaldo Gutierrez Calvache agreed on considering that the new finding ratifies the importance of the region for studies on this type of cultural expression of our native peoples.

Cave art includes pictographs, that is, symbols or pictures representing ideas; and petroglyphs (rock drawing) executed in caverns, rock shelters, grouts and on rocks by pre-Columbian groups or populations.

In Cuba, 285 cave art sites or stations have been officially registered. The largest amount have been located in the provinces of Matanzas, Guantanamo and Pinar del Rio.

Teen will chart Namibian caves

A teenager from Stithians is raising funds for a scientific expedition to Namibia later this year.
Morgan Whittaker, 15, has managed to secure one of only 28 places nationwide for the five-week trip.

He said: "This will not be a holiday, but a test of survival skills, while carrying out important scientific projects."

The first part of the fieldwork will be in the desert mountains, known as the Brandberg Massif, and involve climbing, abseiling and caving.

Prehistoric paintings in the cave networks have been observed and documented since the early 20th century, but they have never been mapped, which will form the basis for the work in that area.

The next part of the fieldwork will be based in the savannah grasslands monitoring the elephant herds in conjunction with Elephant-Human Relations Aid (EHRA).

This will involve tracking, observation and recording of accurate data while trekking in an area of big game.

Deadly bat disease found at Russell Cave

A cluster of little brown bats hibernate in New Mammoth
Cave near LaFollette, Tenn. Researchers with the University
of Tennessee and Bucknell University are collecting 100
little brown bats from Tennessee caves for research aimed at
combating white nose syndrome, a fungal disease that infects
and kills hibernating bats. The disease has been found at
Russell Cave in North Alabama.
A disease that already has killed nearly 7 million bats in the eastern United States in the past five winters has hit home in one of the region’s best-known cave systems.

Wildlife officials have confirmed white-nose syndrome in Russell Cave near Bridgeport, Ala., about 29 miles west of Chattanooga.

The Russell Cave complex features miles of passages, with entrances on both private land and the Russell Cave National Monument, operated by the National Park Service. Researchers have found evidence of continuous human occupation at the cave over the past 10,000 years.

Molly Matteson, a bat specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity of Tucson, said the discovery of the disease in Alabama — a first this far south — is particularly troubling to biologists because Alabama hosts the country’s largest wintering colony of federally endangered gray bats.

If the species proves susceptible to the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, it could be devastated in a short time, she said.

All bats are an important weapon against mosquitos and agricultural insect pests, she said.

Friday, March 30, 2012

White-nose syndrome found in bats at Delaware forts

A fungal disease that has decimated bat populations from Canada to the Deep South has been found in Delaware.

White-nose syndrome is a fungus that has killed between 5 and a half and 6.7 million bats in Canada, the Northeast, Midwest and South since it was first discovered in 2006. Biologists from DNREC have diagnosed the disease in bats hibernating in Fort DuPont and especially Fort Delaware in Delaware City. While there’s no known threat to humans, DNREC will be educating visitors to Fort Delaware this spring about how to prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome to different bat species.

While the bat population in Delaware isn’t as large as in some other states, DNREC says a significant loss in Delaware’s bat population could impact humans, because bats eat large numbers of flying insects, including major agricultural pests. A DNREC study has estimated that bats save farmers billions in pesticide costs.

Jumbo rescued from crevice

A female elephant fell into a pit at Chinna Thadagam
in Coimbatore and was rescued by forest department staff.
The forest officials rescued a 15-year-old female elephant, which fell into a crevice in the reserve forest area of Periyanayakanpalayam forest range in Nanjundapuram village near Thadagam on Thursday.

Anti-poaching watchers heard an elephant’s trumpet in the reserve forest on Wednesday. Later in the evening, they found an elephant trapped between two rocks near Manpari area.

According to forest ranger M. Nazeer, the female elephant must have entered the cave to drink water. She got trapped in the gap, as it was slippery and deep. We performed the rescue operation on Thursday, Mr Nazeer said.

The forest team said they first fed banana, sugarcane to give energy to the jumbo for the climb. “Then we filled stones, sand and other stuffed rocky materials inside the gap and formed a platform for the elephant to step on and come outside the rock. The rescue operation lasted more than four hours,” the forest team said.

Source: Deccan Chronicle

Human Fish Pool in the Postojna Cave

As the Postojna Cave attracts up to 5000 visitors per day, it was necessary to design an aquarium that would bring one of the main attractions of the Karst underworld closer to larger groups of visitors, making use of the existing artificial berm and the widened area of the path through the cave. The object of the project was to design a new aquarium that would ensure suitable conditions for keeping human fish (Proteus anguinus) available for public viewing. When developing the design, it was necessary to consider manual construction and accordingly adjust the size of individual elements, which can be transported into the cave by the cave train. The project was a precedent for similar interventions in the cave.

Reflecting the flow of visitors, the structure design is in line with a request for large transparent glass surfaces and an excellent view of the aquarium interior for as many simultaneous visitors as possible while maintaining suitable conditions for animals. The size of the structure depends on enabling an optimal direct view and experience of the life of human fish as well as on providing sensitive animals with maximum protection from external influences.

BLM and Utah Cave Conservancy Offer Reward for Crystal Cave Vandals

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Salt Lake Field Office (SLFO), and the Utah Cave Conservancy are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of a recent break-in at Crystal Cave in Box Elder County. The break-in and vandalism occurred sometime between April 2011 and February 2012. Unknown persons broke through the gate, destroyed government property, and caused resource damage within the cave.

Significant caves on public lands are protected by the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act. Crystal Cave is managed by the BLM to preserve sensitive cave formations, protect bat habitat, and ensure public safety. Visitors to the cave are required to obtain a permit.
The BLM encourages anyone that has information about who was responsible for this break-in to contact SLFO law enforcement officers at 801.977.4300. All contacts will remain confidential. The cash reward will be payable based on the value of the information and outcome of the case.

Ghar Hasan cave dweller last seen in Hal Far last August

Sulumein Samake, a 26-year-old from Mali, has been identified as the man who was shot at by police this morning near Ghar Hasan.
He arrived in the Hal Far detention centre in February 2010, but was last seen in Hal Far in August 2011.

During a press conference held this evening at Police HQ, Police Commissioner John Rizzo gave more details about the accident as it happened.

Three policemen had been investigating reports that there were people living in caves near Ghar Hasan at around 07.15h. They realised that someone was inside one of the caves and asked him to come out and identify himself.

The man in the cave resisted for a while, but then came out and started shouting what Commissioner Rizzo described as ‘nonsense words’.

“He started shouting things like ‘God tell me’. They were in English but they seemed quite out of context.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Terrier Taz gets a little too adventurous

A rabbit-chasing puppy was returned unharmed to her owners after spending two days trapped underground.

Adventurous six-month-old cross-breed terrier Taz was returned to the Seldon family in Porth after joint effort to save her was mounted by the RSPCA and a team from the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue.

The animal welfare charity were called to a site near the Waun Wen Community Centre on Saturday, March 18, where they could hear the distressed pooch’s cries from above the ground.

After attempts to rescue Taz from the deep rabbit hole failed, RSPCA officers contacted the cave rescue workers, who sent a team of seven to help.

The little dog was eventually rescued at 11pm and was returned to her overjoyed owners soon after, unharmed except for a few grazes.

The dog’s delighted owners said: “Thanks so much to the RSPCA and South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue for saving Taz.

“She’s an adventurous little dog but is staying out of trouble for the moment at least and enjoying her home surroundings.”

Brian Jopling, of South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue team, said: “We are pleased to be able to use our knowledge and skills to assist the RSPCA in incidents like this and are glad there was a happy ending.”

RSPCA inspector Christine McNeil added: “Thanks to the sterling work of the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue team, this story had a happy ending.

“This successful outcome once again highlights the importance of cross agency collaboration in the cause of animal welfare.”

Source: Wales Online

Call for Articles EuroSpeleo Magazine


It's with a great pleasure that the FSE announces you the official launching of its new publication called EUROSPELEO-MAGAZINE, your new free speleological online magazine !

In it, you can publish all the articles that you or your club have already written or would like to publish soon.
This multilingual magazine full of nice photos will be red by the 50.000 cavers from the 2000 European speleological clubs all over Europe.

So we invite to send us your article as soon as possible.

For that all the information is here : http://www.eurospeleo.org/call-appel-articles.pdf

Should you have any question or suggestion please let us know at : articles@eurospeleo.eu
With the pleasure to read your articles soon !
See you soon on EuroSpeleo Magazine,

The EuroSpeleo Magazine Team

Treyarnon Bay YHA cave sewage plans objected to by residents

Cornwall Council will consider the plans on 11 April
Plans by a youth hostel to wash treated sewage into a cave on a Cornish beach are being opposed by local residents.

The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) wants to install a £250,000 system to discharge wastewater on to Treyarnon Bay.

It said clear, sterile water would be discharged and there would be a back-up system in case of error.

Some residents have said it will affect business. The plans will be considered by Cornwall Council in April.

YHA, which has been in the area for 60 years, said the current system was defective and the proposed system would carry treated sewage from the hostel down to the cave on the beach.'Contaminated' beach

Jake Chalmers, YHA property director, said: "It will actually discharge at night into a cave just on the property's boundary line and it's designed to be done at high tide when there's no possible disruption.

"We've taken the best advice we can from our own consultants, from the statutory bodies including the Environment Agency, and they've all said this system is totally appropriate."

Mammoth Cave Superintendent Patrick Reed retiring this summer after 42 years with park service

Patrick Reed
Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Patrick Reed is leaving his post later this year.

Reed has announced he will retire on June 30 after 42 years with the National Park Service, including the last six at Mammoth Cave.

He was named National Park Service Superintendent of the Year for Natural Resource Stewardship in 2009 and Southeast Region Superintendent of the Year in 2006. He started out as a seasonal maintenance worker in 1969 at Mount Rushmore National Monument and became a permanent employee the following year, working his way up as he moved to parks in Wyoming, Missouri, California, North Carolina, Colorado, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.

At Mammoth Cave, he has overseen projects including construction of the rehabilitated visitor center, expected to serve visitors for the next 40 years.

Source: The Republic

Lucy in 3.4 million-year-old cross-species cave tryst

The Burtele partial foot after cleaning
and preparation.
Now it seems that Lucy shared eastern Africa with another prehuman species, one that may have spent more time in trees than on the ground.

A 3.4-million-year-old fossil foot found in Ethiopia appears to settle the long-disputed question of whether there was only a single line of hominins — species more closely related to humans than to chimpanzees — between four million and three million years ago. The fossil record for that period had been virtually limited to the species Australopithecus afarensis, made famous by the 3.2-million-year-old Lucy skeleton.

Of perhaps more importance, scientists report in the journal Nature, published online Wednesday, the newfound foot not only belonged to a different species but also had evolved a distinctive mode of locomotion, which scientists described as “equivocal.” It clung to the trees and never adapted to terrestrial mobility outright.

The Lucy species had long before evolved almost humanlike upright walking, bipedality, as attested by the Laetoli footprints in Tanzania from as early as 3.7 million years ago. This other species was still built for climbing trees and grasping limbs. It was capable of walking, though less efficiently and probably at an awkward gait.

At a pivotal period in prehuman evolution, the discoverers concluded, two lines of hominins practiced contrasting locomotion behavior. Their feet, mostly, told the tale: the divergent, opposable big toe, long digits and other bones of the newfound species did not match the feet of afarensis. Lucy’s foot had a strong arch and the big toe was lined up with the other four digits, much like the feet of modern humans and all critical for effective bipedality, while retaining some agility for climbing trees.

Gran breathes easier after salt cave 'cure'

Ruth Brooker, who found relief from shortness of breath
after a visit to the Salt Caves, with neighbour Roger
Scoones, who said he also benefited
Gran Ruth Brooker says she has found an unusual cure for breathlessness – regular trips to a "salt cave".

Mrs Brooker, 81, of Northwood Road, Whitstable, had suffered from shortness of breath for five years. Doctors said there was nothing more they could do about the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which was blocking her lungs.

But her daughter contacted the Salt Cave clinic in Tunbridge Wells, and after four sessions Mrs Brooker says many of her symptoms have disappeared.

She said: "I'd been suffering with a constant uncontrollable cough for over five years. It started to affect my social life and also stopped me sleeping for more than about three hours. Whilst my GP was extremely patient and helpful I felt I was a lost cause.

"Even my consultant said there was nothing else that could be done to help. I had an inhaler and tablets to thin the mucous, but it had got to the stage where I cancelled engagements and went home from events, I was so embarrassed by the constant cough, sneezing and running eyes.

Wildlife Biologist Study The Bats Of Dade's Caves

Wildlife biologists Nikki Castleberry (left) and Trina
Morris prepare to take spore samples at Sitton’s Cave
at Cloudland Canyon.
“They’re just fascinating creatures when you start to study them,” said Trina Morris. “People think of them as big teeth and scary, but when you look up close they’re fuzzy and they’re incredible, the way their ears are different, and the folds on their face. They hang upside down. They’re active at night.They use echolocation and that’s really cool.”

We were standing in the parking lot of the Sitton’s Gulch trail at Cloudland Canyon one sunny day last month and Ms. Morris, a wildlife biologist, was talking about bats.

As most readers know by now, these flying mammals are threatened by a mysterious fungal infection called White Nose Syndrome, and Ms. Morris and her fellow biologist, Nikki Castleberry, both employed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in Social Circle near the University of Georgia, were here to test the bats of Cloudland Canyon’s Sitton’s Cave for WNS as well as to count them.

The biologists were accompanied by two Georgia public information employees, Rick Lavender and David Allen, who need to know as much as they could about WNS since they are responsible for disseminating news about it; and by my husband, Jerry Wallace, who as a local hobbyist familiar with Sitton’s Cave was invited to go along, take pictures and help count. His photographs accompany this article.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tests being done to determine if gray bats in Sequiota Park cave are carrying deadly fungus

Waiting for sunset, Missouri State University graduate
students (from left) Ben Hale, Josh Parris and Larisa
Bishop-Boros set up a net at the opening of a cave at
Sequiota Park. Photo by Bob Linder
The first signs of a strange fungus that kills bats might have been discovered Monday night in several endangered gray bats at Sequiota Cave.

Using a fine-mesh net stretched across the cave entrance, Missouri State University biology professor Lynn Robbins and several graduate students carefully captured 44 bats — including the rare grays — for a close-up look at the flying mammals’ health.

“For the most part the bats were clear of White Nose Syndrome,” Robbins said, referring to the fungus that has killed more than a million bats in eastern states. “But we are sending tissue samples from some gray bat wings that showed some discoloration. If there is an infection, it didn’t start here.”

The bats were released unharmed, and samples were sent to the U.S. Geological Survey’s disease laboratory in Madison, Wis.

Robbins said he should know within a few weeks whether the fungus has reached Springfield.

Confirmation of the disease in this part of Missouri would be big news in the bat world. “Oh, definitely,” Robbins said.

Mexican officials criticized for 'raping' ancient mass burial site

In Mexico this month, a cave was found with the remains of more than 160 people. As Mexico's drug war rages on, the immediate thought was this was a mass grave of people killed by drug dealers. It wasn't. And when officials determined that they swept the remains up in large trash bags and hauled them off without respect for the history they represent.

Earlier this month, the skeletal remains of more than 167 people were discovered in a cave in Chiapas, Mexico.

Initial reports suggested the find may have been a mass grave. It wouldn’t have been the first such discovery in Mexico in the past year. Mass graves have become an increasing common discovery as the country’s drug war rages on.

But the human skeletal remains found in that cave in Frontera Comalapa turned out to be unique. It wasn’t a mass grave, but a pre-Columbian bone deposit.

“This is like the first time that’s happened, at least in my administration here in the state,” said Emiliano Gallaga, director of the Chiapas office of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, known as INAH.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Video: Cave Diving Cenote Outland, Mexico


Another nice cave diving video from Slawek Packo. This time diving cenote Outland, part of Sac Aktun system: into direction Hoyo Negro and then a jump to the right.




 If your interested in this and other similar cenotes, I can recommend a nice book covering all cenotes in the area called "The Cenotes of the Riviera Maya" from Steve Gerrard (Available through Amazon by clicking the picture on the left).

Sink Hole Concerns

There was plenty of earth moving on Monday in one Altoona neighborhood as crews worked to fill in a part of an underground cavern. What started with a report of no water for a couple of city homes late last week resulted in geologic problem resurfacing that has long been an issue in the Prospect hill neighborhood of the city.

A section of First Avenue in the area of 14th Street was closed for part of Monday so that city crews could bring in the heavy equipment. The workers were called out for the latest attempt to fill in part of a gapping hole that leads to a huge underground cavern. People who live near the work zone say the sink hole in their street has the potential to be a huge problem.

The sink hole can be traced to an underground problem that City workers have been aware of at least 80 years. It was back in the 1930s that the then Fire Chief of the city noticed some problems with sinking land. In the 1960's the City hired a geologist to study the problem and issue reports for the city after researching the area. The problem area sits on a fault line and covers the entrance to an underground cavern.

About fifty years ago, one house in the 1300 block of First Avenue had to be demolished after a sink hole cracked its foundation and caused its porch to collapse. While there have been a number of attempts to repair the problem over the years, none of theme have turned out to be a permanent solution.

It was because this sink hole opens into a huge underground cavern that city workers say coming up with a permanent solution is difficult. They say the best they can do is to make sure the area is safe and the ground is stable.

While the deep underground cavern is still there, city workers expected build a stable base over the entrance that will allow for permanent repairs to be made to the street, sidewalk and utility lines in the area.

Tiny new scorpion found glowing in Death Valley

A compound in the exoskeletons of adult scorpions
causes them to glow in UV light.
Captured in nighttime search, species is among smallest ever discovered in North America.

Researchers have announced the discovery of a tiny scorpion in Death Valley National Park, an unusual location, they said, since it lies hundreds of miles north of the known habitat of the newfound species' closest relatives.

Searchers equipped with ultraviolet flashlights spotted a single male specimen near a pile of rocks during a nighttime survey — adult scorpions give off an eerie glow in ultraviolet light.

"When you come across a scorpion, they glow a bright green color, which is really easy to see in contrast to the surrounding darkness," Michael M. Webber, a University of Las Vegas Nevada Ph.D. candidate, told OurAmazingPlanet in an email.

Webber is co-author on a paper describing the scorpion, dubbed Wernerius inyoensis, published this week in the journal ZooKeys.

Matthew R. Graham, also a UNLV Ph.D. candidate, and the researcher who found the tiny scorpion on a rocky slope, said the scarcity of the scorpions and the location where the specimen was discovered suggest the elusive creatures may live underground.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two New Caves With Rock Art Discovered In India

Maraiyur, located near Udumalaipettai, houses many Neolithic
and megalithic structures made of stone and granite.
In an exciting find, a young archaeologist has found two caves with stunning rock art belonging to the prehistoric and early historic era. The caves, ‘Vanapechialai’ and the ‘Vanaraparai’ abound with red and white ochre paintings and are located in the Udumalaipettai forest range in Tirupur district.

Sharing his discovery with Express, C Vijayakumar says Vanapechialai has a large number of faded red-ochre paintings. “There are six red hand marks and certain unidentifiable images. However, there are six bright parallel lines in a zig zag fashion in red ochre resembling flickering of flames.” In the same cave, there is also a white-ochre painting, which portrays a man seated on an elephant (22 cm long, 18 cm wide). Vijayakumar says the white-ochre drawing has been done over red-ochre.

The Vanaraparai cave has the famed ‘hand’ mark, which is early man’s first effort in documenting his identity. “It is imprinted twice in pure red-ochre. In the right hand, the ring finger is missing, suggesting that the imprint is that of the village chieftain or Moopan. In primitive societies during pre-historic period, the Moopan’s ring finger was always cut.”

The cave - big enough to house 150 cows - has paintings ranging between 5 cm and 32 cm. There are altogether 28 sketches of early man, besides images of animals, which include a couple of elephants, men on deer with a primitive hunting weapon, monkeys, the sun and a faded moon.

New Spider Species Found In Caves of Central Java

Amauropelma matakecil
Scientists have identified a new species of spider in a network of limestone caves in Purworejo, Central Java, that they believe belongs to a genus previously only found in eastern Australia.

Cahyo Rahmadi, from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), and Jeremy Miller, from the Naturalis Museum in Leiden, the Netherlands, named the new species Amauropelma matakecil, in reference to its vestigial eyes that are smaller than those of non-cave-dwelling spiders.

“The eyes on this specimen are so small that they just appear as transparent dots on its head,” Cahyo told Antara in an e-mail.

He added the spider was known to inhabit just three caves in the karst, or limestone, Menoreh Hills area of Purworejo, on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta.

Cahyo and Miller figure that the new species “appears to fit best in the genus Amauropelma,” based on shared characteristics such as the eye arrangement, the leg spination pattern, the presence of superior tarsal claws and the lack inferior tarsal claws.

However, they also noted that A. matakecil “exhibits characteristics that are not typical of Amauropelma,” including hard rather than soft teeth and differently placed copulatory openings.

They also acknowledged that the new species has eyes, while the only other troglodytic, or cave-dwelling, Amauropelma species, A. undara, does not.

A. undara, like all known species in the genus Amauropelma, is currently only found in the Australian state of Queensland.

Carbon and Boundaries in Karst 2013 - Second Circular

A Karst Waters Institute Symposium on
Carbon and Boundaries in Karst

January 7 to 11, 2013
Carlsbad, New Mexico

Co-sponsored by the National Cave and Karst Research Institute

Background

There is growing interest in the dynamics of both inorganic and organic carbon in karst systems, and especially in the flux of carbon and nutrients between the surface and subsurface and between different components in the karst subsurface. This symposium is about these and other questions connected to carbon in karst and boundaries in karst. It is especially timely both because of rapid advances in the field and the importance of carbon sequestration in global climate change The symposium will highlight recent advances in biology, geology, and hydrology that are helping us understand the dynamics of karst ecosystems, especially with respect to carbon. There will be both invited lectures and contributed posters covering the following topics: The Upper Boundary — Epikarst The Lower Boundary — Phreatic Zone Lateral Inputs — Insurgences Lateral Outputs — Resurgences CO2 — Processing and Storage Organic Carbon — Sources and Quality Synthesis and Large Scale Models.

As is the tradition with KWI meetings, the symposium will be aggressively interdisciplinary and international. More information about KWI and past meetings can be found here.

2nd International Cave Monitoring Workshop

Three years after the 1st International Cave Monitoring Workshop held in Gibraltar (26 February – 1 March 2009) a second workshop is planned along the lines of the initial concept of two days of informal presentations with discussion and a joint cave trip.

The planned dates for this workshop are April 18-22, 2012.

The workshop will focus entirely on the practical aspects of environmental monitoring in caves, and will encompass strategies for monitoring of the hydrology and meteorology of cave systems, instrumentation and data logging, sampling and analysis protocols, and in-situ studies of carbonate precipitation and other cave processes.

More details can be found by following this link.

See some nice pictures of installing an automatic cave water sampler in Bärenhöhle by Robbie Shone.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

TV series in hot water over destruction of historical cave

The Ottoman-site TV series “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” used
Yarımburgaz Cave without permission while shooting.
Workers who allegedly damaged the historical Yarımburgaz Cave while shooting a TV series there without permission are now facing a prison sentence of up to five years.

Used recently without permission as the set for one of the most watched TV series in Turkey, the Ottoman Empire-set “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (Magnificent Century), the Yarımburgaz Cave, which dates back 15,000 years, came into the spotlight because of damage that was caused during the shooting of several episodes of the TV series.

According to a Radikal daily report on Sunday, two young archaeologists -- Yiğit Ozar and Berkay Dinçer -- who were watching episodes 43 and 44 of “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” realized that what they were seeing might be the Yarımburgaz Cave.

After they verified that the series was shot in the cave, they filed a complaint against the TV series.

Due to the complaint from the two archeologists, professionals from the İstanbul Archaeological Museum went to the cave to examine it and drafted a report based on their findings. The report was sent to the İstanbul Public Prosecutor's Office. Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Law 2863 stipulates a prison sentence of up to five years and fines equivalent to TL 5,000 per day for anyone who damages historical sites under protection.

The comedy series “Leyla ile Mecnun” is another TV series that used the Yarımburgaz Cave as a set for its episodes.

The Yarımburgaz Cave, located near İstanbul, is the oldest known evidence of human presence in Turkey. It is placed among the first-degree archeological sites and is on the List of Cultural Property under Enhanced Protection.

Noting that damaging historical sites is a crime, Dinçer told Radikal that a plan to protect the cave should be drawn up as soon as possible and added, “We cannot protect the cave using only metal bars.”

Source: Todays Zaman

Saturday, March 24, 2012

4 rappellers trapped in northern cave, Israel

Four rappellers have been trapped in a cave near the village of Beit Jann in the Western Galilee. Three have been rescued so far. Emergency services crews are attempting to extract the fourth from the cave, which is 30 meters deep.

Two of the climbers were lightly injured and were taken to a nearby hospital

Source: YNetNews

Speleofest 2012 in Kentucky



Friday, March 23, 2012

Prehistoric tool made from antler found in Burren cave - hammerhead found among bones and pottery

The Burren in County Clare
Experts believe the antler hammerhead found in a Burren cave is “likely to be prehistoric”.

Archaeologists also found the skeleton of a teenager, believed to be from the 16th or 17th century, along with shards of pottery.

The skull of the skeleton and the hammer head were found by cavers in June 2011, in a small cave in the Moneen Mountain outside Ballyvaughan, County Clare. Ireland’s National Museum Service carried out a ten-days excavations last August.

Marion Dowd, for the Institute of Technology (IT) Sligo, presented their finding in Tubber, County Offaly, this week. She said the cave was used about 3,000 years ago, at the end of the Medieval period.

She said “The discovery of the fabulous antler hammerhead is hugely exciting…I can’t find any other parallels in Irish archaeology.”

Tests to confirm the origin of the red deer stag, aged six-and-a-half, have not been completed.
Dowd said in the an Irish context the discovery “is very interesting and very significant".

The find includes pottery shards and butchered animal bone.

DENR conducts regional training on cave assessment

In a bid to conserve, protect and manage caves and cave resources in Soccsksargen region, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here conducted a two-day skills training on cave assessment.

The training held in Maitum town, Sarangani last March 15 and 16 was aimed at providing participants with knowledge and skills in appraisal of caves and cave ss assessment to determine appropriate sustainable uses of caves.

Participants included some 60 trainees from local government units in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, and Sarangani, and the DENR.

Part of the training requirement was an actual assessment of Cave Angko in Maitum. They were guided by regional cave focal person Joy C. Ologuin.

Protected Areas and Wildlife Division chief Ali M. Hadjinasser, one of the resource persons, explained that cave assessment is a comprehensive data gathering and inventory of cave resources that must be accomplished at the site level, hence the role of the local government is very crucial.

On other hand, councilor and Maitum's chairman of the Committee on Culture, Arts and Tourism Jess C. Bascuña emphasized that protection an conservation of several caves in the municipality has been part of their local programs.

DENR’s conduct of the said training also forms part of the efforts of local government units to promote and develop ecotourism sites, which have been identified as a potential source of local revenue as well as a major contributor to national economy.

Protection and management of the country’s caves is a priority of the DENR as mandated in Republic Act 9072 or the "National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act."

Caves are considered unique, natural and non-renewable resources with important scientific, economic, educational, cultural, historical and aesthetic values. They are also home to specialized mineral formations with unique and diverse flora and fauna. (DEDoguiles –PIA 12/CG Valdez/MCalungsod- Locsin-DENR 12).

Beautiful new cave discovered in Quang Binh Province

The recently discovered cave in Quang Binh Province
by the British Royal Cave Research Association
A team of explorers of the British Royal Cave Research Association led by Dr. Howard Limbert on Thursday said that they have discovered a cave which is more beautiful than the exquisite Son Doong Cave in the central province of Quang Binh.

The recently discovered cave in Quang Binh Province by the British Royal Cave Research Association

Son Doong Cave has been recognised as the biggest cave in the world by National Geographic.

The new cave is called Va Cave and is located among a group of eight other caves. The team of explorers discovered it after a study and research of the site in the province. The British Royal Cave Research Association has so far discovered 15 new caves.

Among them, Va Cave is said to have stalactites that are even more stunning and spectacular than those in the Son Doong Cave.

The explorers said that they had never seen a cave with such beautiful stalactites, as much as 1.7kilometres in length.

According to initial reports, the Va Cave was found by a local man named Ho Khanh, who took the explorers to the site of the cave, located 400metres from the Son Doong Cave.

Source: Saigon Daily

Body of hiker found in 215m-deep cave

Li Xiong, 23, was one of a five-member expedition team on their way to Hoh Xil, anisolated region in the northwestern part of the Tibetan plateau in China, when theystopped by the cave in Zhuomu village, Zhenxiong county, in foggy conditions around3:50 pm on Monday.

His teammates recall how, despite their warnings, he was so captivated by the sceneryhe was determined to get closer.

"Had he not insisted on feeling his way to it, he could have avoided the tragedy," said He, one of his travel pals. "There were slippery stones everywhere. It was sodangerous."

Li slipped on one step, and then fell into the cave in a split second, recalled Xu,another teammate on the trip.

Two rescue teams raced to the scene, working throughout the night trying to reach Li,but they could not reach him due to their inadequate rescue equipment.

It was only on the third day that neighboring Guizhou province sent a team to the sitethat Li's body was finally found 215 meters down.

It was Li's first hiking trip, according to his mother. "I did not want him to go in the firstplace," she said. "But he had made up his mind."

Source: Peoples Daily

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cave Explorer & Author to Visit Community

Chris Nicola
The North Shore Chavurah of Rabbis community-wide Yom HaShoah Commemoration will feature Chris Nicola, cave explorer and author of The Secret of Priest’s Grotto: A Holocaust Survival Story, on Wednesday, April 18 at 7:45 PM at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El. The evening will include memorial prayers, a candle lighting ceremony, and a special presentation. Copies of the book will be for sale and a book signing will follow.

Chris Nicola has organized and led over 40 expeditions to Africa, the former Soviet Union, Oceana, the Caribbean, and throughout North, South, and Central America. He spent ten years unearthing one of the most amazing underground survival stories of all time: how 38 Jews survived the Holocaust by living in a massive cave system in the Ukraine for more than 500 days. Nicola holds Bachelor's degrees in Criminal Justice, Forensic Psychology, and Physics, as well as a Master's degree in Criminology. He currently resides in New York where he works as an investigator for New York State but much of his free time is spent continuing his research on the Priest's Grotto story, teaching exploratory caving and rope climbing/rappelling skills to scouts and members of the Explorers Club, and running the Priest's Grotto Heritage Project.

While in the Chicago area, Nicola will also visit the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, the Chicago Jewish Day School, Lakeside Congregation, the Cohen Religious School at NSS Beth El, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Source: Trib Local

Thadou Students' Association (TSA) objects to cave exploration team

Thadou Students' Association (TSA), Chandel district has expressed objection to the entry of a joint team from Department of History, Manipur University and Archaeological Survey of India, Guwahati Circle, who could not even spell the names of local villages and the caves correctly for exploration of some caves in Chandel district.

In a statement, General Secretary of TSA, Chandel district James Haokip pointed out that local people entrust such matters to Kuki Research Forum and appealed to all the outsiders not to interfere in the matters/affairs related to the district.

TSA has also appealed to all concerned for prior consultation if they wish to visit any historical places in Chandel district to avoid any untoward incidents in future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Studies to test feasibility of cave projects

Sha Tin Sewage Treatment Works
The government is moving towards burying bits of the city - the unsightly ones - in underground caverns, freeing up more land for housing and economic development, according to officials.

Two feasibility studies were in the planning stage, and officials would seek funding approval from lawmakers in April and May, Deputy Secretary for Development Enoch Lam Tin-sing said yesterday.

The studies would give the government a basis for policy guidelines to encourage cavern developments for both public and private sectors - following the example of some European countries - he said.

The idea of using caverns for unpopular utilities - like sewage treatment plants, fuel storage depots, refuse transfer stations and columbariums - has been under discussion for over a year.

The scheme will begin by identifying suitable rock caverns to house 400 government facilities that can be relocated, notably the not-in-my-backyard utilities disliked by nearby residents.

"Like European countries, we can see a local trend of vacating land by putting facilities inside caverns," Lam said. "The extension of the campus of the University of Hong Kong is one example. We expect more from the private sector," he said, adding that caverns have been used as wine cellars, data centres and car parks in Finland and other countries.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Body of Tennessee diver found in Ginnie Springs

Sign inside the Devil's Eye warning unexperienced divers
A Tennessee man’s body was found Sunday in a cave in Ginnie Springs after he apparently drowned while diving there two days earlier, police said.

Steve Bennett, 59, of Hendersonville, Tenn., arrived at the springs, situated west of High Springs in Gilchrist County, on Friday and rented diving gear from the privately owned Ginnie Springs Outdoors park and campground, Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office Lt. David Aderholt said Monday.

Aderholt said an investigator found a certificate in Bennett’s car allowing Bennett to do open-water diving, though it wasn’t clear whether he was certified to dive in caves.

“Whether or not he had any experience in terms of cave diving, we do not know,” Aderholt said.

Bennett’s body was found by a group of divers in the cave system at the Devil’s Eye portion of the springs.

There didn’t appear to be anyone else diving with him.

“It appears he arrived alone and was diving alone,” Aderholt said.

The body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Gainesville for an autopsy.


About the cave: 
The system has two entrances, Devil's Eye and Devil's Ear, located in close proximity to one another. The Devil's Eye cave system is among the most popular and frequently dived caves in the world. With over 30,000 feet of mapped passageway, divers can spend a lifetime of active cave diving and still not see all of it.



Additional Resources:

Laemostenus (Sphodroides) tiouirii, a new troglophile beetle from Tunisia

In Tunesia a new type of troglophilic ground-beetle was discovered.

The species had been studied by Borislav Guéorguiev and is called Laemostenus (Sphodroides) tiouirii.

Scientific paper

Guéorguiev B. 2012. Laemostenus (Sphodroides) tiouirii, a new troglophile beetle from Tunisia
(Coleoptera: Carabidae). – Historia naturalis bulgarica, 20: 69-74.

Abstract
A new brachypterous, troglophile ground-beetle, Laemostenus (Sphodroides)  tiouirii sp. n. (type locality: NE Tunisia, jebel Serj Mt., cave of Mine) is described and illustrated.

The new species possesses a set of important characters which put it close to/ or within the basal grade of the subgenus, which contains L.  aelleni (Antoine), L.  foucauldi (De Miré), and L.  recticollis (Schaufuss); the new taxon is also closely related to L. alluaudi Bedel. Laemostenus tiouirii sp. n. is however easily recognized from all the above-mentioned species by the combination of four characters: absence of angular protrusion on the anterior margin of male profemor, edentate claws of the onychium, differing shape of the median lobe of aedeagus in lateral aspect, and finer structure of the right paramere.

An identification key for the Tunisian species of Sphodroides is provided.

Key words: Coleoptera, Carabidae, Sphodrini, new species, Tunisia

Mississippi diver dies at Vortex Spring

Larry Higginbotham
A Mississippi man died in Vortex Spring on Saturday, almost a year-and-half after a Tennessee diver disappeared in the same underwater caves.

Larry Higginbotham, 43, of Biloxi, Miss., had gone to the spring to dive Saturday at 10:45 a.m., said Chief Deputy Harry Hamilton and Sgt. Michael Raley with the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office.

“When he didn’t return, his girlfriend contacted the Vortex Spring management, who in turn contacted the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said Higginbotham’s body was recovered Sunday evening with the aide of volunteer cave divers.

The death comes as an Investigation Discovery documentary was set to air on the disappearance of Ben McDaniel, 30, of Collierville, Tenn., who was reported missing at Vortex Spring in August 2010. His body was never recovered.

Vortex Spring produces 28 million gallons of crystal-clear water daily at year-round temperature of 68 degrees. Vortex waters flow out of the 225-foot-diameter spring that flows into Blue Creek, which empties into the Choctawhatchee River, according to the website.

Hamilton, when coordinating the search for McDaniel in 2010, said the cave at Vortex Spring is very challenging and extremely dangerous. The bottom of the spring bowl is sandy, with limestone near the vent. So far, divers have penetrated the cave 1,500 feet at a depth of 150 feet.

Dive training is offered at the park and the underwater cave is accessible to 310 feet, at which point further entry is blocked by a steel gate; only certified divers are allowed beyond that point.

Source: News Herald

Former Chinese cave-dweller plans return

A Chinese man who was formerly one of the 30 million people in the country who live in caves said he plans to return to cave-dwelling when he retires.

Ren Shouhua, a middle-aged man who said he moved out of his cave on the outskirts of Yanan, China, when he obtained a job in the city in his 20s, said there are many benefits to cave life and he plans to return to a cave when he retires, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

"It's cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It's quiet and safe," Ren said. "When I get old, I'd like to go back to my roots."

He said many of the caves, which house about 30 million people in China, are reinforced with brick masonry and many even have electricity and running water.

"Most aren't so fancy, but I've seen some really beautiful caves: high ceilings and spacious with a nice yard out front where you can exercise and sit in the sun," Ren said.

Many of the Chinese cave-dwellers are in Shaanxi province, which contains many cliffs of porous soil that make cave digging an easy and cost-effective housing option.

"The cave topology is one of the earliest human architectural forms; there are caves in France, in Spain, people still living in caves in India," said David Wang, an architecture professor at Washington State University in Spokane who has written widely on the subject. "What is unique to China is the ongoing history it has had over two millenniums."

Source: UP
I


Proteo Caving Club celebrates 50th birthday

The Italian Caving Club Proteo from Vicenza celebrates this year it's 50th anniversary.

A special webpage was constructed. People interested in some historical pictures can take a look in the photo-section at https://sites.google.com/site/cinquantesimoproteo/5.

On this page you can also find more events related to the celebrations.

Congratulations!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cenote Calimba Cave Dive Video - Yucatan

Cave diving video of Slawek Packo in Yucatan's Cenote Calimba (Sac Aktun System):



14-member exploration team leaves for Khomunnom cave

A 14-member team which is on a mission to explore Khomunnom cave in Shajik Tampak in Chandel district was flagged off from the DM College of Science campus by E Binoy, ex-Chief Engineer of PWD, today at around 10:30 am.

The flagging off ceremony of the exploration mission being organised by the DM College of Science was also attended B Haridas Sharma, retired Director, Agriculture Department and Dr P Ranbir, Principal, DM College of Science among others.

The exploration team comprises 10 males and four female members who are researchers, scholars and students.

The team is being monitored and observed by retired Colonel RK Rajendra.

The team would explore the Khomunnon cave and it is expected to open a new chapter in the history of the world.

Speaking on the occasion, E Binoy said that exploration and excavation of Khomunnom cave, which is to be taken up for the first time by DM College of Science, is indeed appreciable and at the same time important.

The excavation of the cave would enable the team to explore the prehistoric events and trace the true history of the state.

He observed that it is a good sign that developed countries are investing huge amount of money for investigation and study of prehistoric sites.

Discoveries from such deep exploration would enable us to learn more and shed light on the truth of human history.

B Haridas informed that the excavated things from the cave would be carbon tested to trace the history of human settlement in Manipur.

This would further strengthen the identity of the Manipuris.

Source: Hueiyen News Service

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Re-examine rare fossil find site, there likely are others, archaeologist urges during Vero Beach presentation

Noted British archaeologist and Ice Age art expert Paul Bahn came to Indian River County to examine the carved fossil bone found in Vero Beach in 2009 that is the only Pleistocene era artifact of its kind found in North America.

On Sunday afternoon, Bahn, who is also an author, translator and BBC commentator, spoke at the Emerson Center during a presentation hosted by the Old Vero Ice Age Sites Committee. While most of Bahn's presentation focused on Ice Age cave art in Europe, he outlined several findings that might offer lessons for future excavations or studies of the Vero Man site.

The committee is raising money to fund a re-excavation of the site, and an international team recently completed a site survey with ground-penetrating radar. Committee chairwoman Susan Grandpierre told the crowd of about 200 attendees that the survey's preliminary findings reveal undisturbed ground that might contain artifacts like the one found by James Kennedy, but the final survey results are not available.

Kennedy's find was a carving of a mammoth on what is thought to be a mammoth or sloth bone, and was authenticated by scientists at the University of Florida. It is thought to be 13,000 to 20,000 years old. Excavating the Vero Man site, which was discovered in 1913 and is one of only two locations in the United States where fossilized human remains have been discovered alongside a variety of Ice Age, or Pleistocene, mammal remains, is expected to cost about $1.3 million, according to Grandpierre.

How Ropes Are Made


Bulgarian Archaeologists Claim Oldest Monastery in Europe

The ancient shrine at the St. Athanasius monastery
in Bulgaria's Stara Zagora region.
Bulgarian archaeologists have uncovered what they believe is the oldest Christian monastery in Europea near the village of Zlatna Livada in southern Bulgaria.

According to latest archaeological research, the St. Athanasiusmonastery, still functioning near the village, has been founded in 344 bySt. Athanasius himself, reports the BGNES agency.

Until now, the Candida Casa monastery, founded in 371 AD in Galloway, Scotland, was believed to be the oldest Christian monastery in Europe, followed by the St. Martin monastery in the Pyrénées-Orientales, France (373 AD).

Archaeologists have examined objects in a hermit's cave and shrine located near the present St. Athanasius monastery in Bulgaria, and found evidence that the great saint might have resided there.

Additional studies in archives at the Vatican have confirmed that St. Athanasiuswas present at the Church Council in Serdica (modern Sofia) in 343 AD.

He then travelled on to Constantinople and is believed to have stopped in the area of present Zlatna Livada, which is located in Thrace on the ancient way betweenSerdica and Constantinople.

The small village of Zlatna Livada (pop. 123) is located near the Bulgarian town ofChirpan, Stara Zagora region.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria (296/8-373) was for a long time Bishop ofAlexandria, and is revered as one of the greatest Christian saints.

He did extensive work in theology and was one of the key figures in establishing the dogmata of Christian faith that are still accepted by Eastern Orthodox, Catholicand Protestant Christians alike.

Source: Novinite

In China, millions make themselves at home in caves

Ma Liangshui, 76, has lived in caves around Yanan his entire life.
Like many peasants from the outskirts of Yanan, China, Ren Shouhua was born in a cave and lived there until he got a job in the city and moved into a concrete-block house.

His progression made sense as he strove to improve his life. But there's a twist: The 46-year-old Ren plans to move back to a cave when he retires.

"It's cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It's quiet and safe," said Ren, a ruddy-faced man with salt-and-pepper hair who moved to the Shaanxi provincial capital, Xian, in his 20s. "When I get old, I'd like to go back to my roots."

More than 30 million Chinese people live in caves, many of them in Shaanxi province where the Loess plateau, with its distinctive cliffs of yellow, porous soil, makes digging easy and cave dwelling a reasonable option.

Each of the province's caves, yaodong, in Chinese, typically has a long vaulted room dug into the side of a mountain with a semicircular entrance covered with rice paper or colorful quilts. People hang decorations on the walls, often a portrait of Mao Tse-tung or a photograph of a movie star torn out of a glossy magazine.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Funny Video: Winter Caving

Swiftlet numbers dwindling in Niah caves

The Great Cave of Niah is where the swiftlets’ nests are harvested. 
Only around 100,000 black-nest swiftlets (Aerodramus maximus) remain in the limestone caves of the Niah National Park.

This is a drastic drop compared to the around 1.7 million found in the 1930s.

According to the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), the decrease is mainly due to the harvesting of the edible nests, which are considered a delicacy and even aphrodisiac in Asia.

Niah park warden Haidar Ali told The Borneo Post Adventure Team (BAT) on Thursday that SFC’s main focus is increasing the number of black-nest swiftlets to ensure the species thrives in the future.

SFC sets temporary bans every year on the local community, who have licenses, from harvesting the nests.

“During these periods, we allow the swiftlets to nest their eggs and help to increase its population,” Haidar explained.

He stressed that the licensed harvesters also do not harvest every day when the ban is lifted, working only when the nests are plentiful.

A master plan on managing national parks and totally protected areas (TPA) nationwide, he said, was formulated by the Malaysian and Danish governments through a project between 2001 and 2003.

A black-nest swiftlet perched by the wall of the cave.
“Since then we have had proper management of the bird population and controlled the harvesting activities. This is also to ensure the ecosystem for the birds is also maintained.”

Four other areas involved in the project are the Lambir National Park, Bukit Tiban National Park, Similajau National Park and Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary.

He added that the government has given 86 licenses to the people of Sepupok and Tanjong Belipat to harvest bird’s nests in the caves of Niah National Park.

As much as 95 per cent of the harvesting is conducted in the Great Cave of Niah.

Raw black-nest swiftlet nests can be sold to traders for around RM100 per kg, depending on the quality.

Source: The Borneo Post

5th International Workshop on Ice Caves


Barzio (LC), Valsassina, Grigna, Italy
September 16 – 23, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Once thought lost, the rock-art images of ancient peoples are seen again

Stones were once canvas for stories. We marked milestones and journeys on rocks, painting vivid images of big hunts, mighty warriors and spiritual quests. Tens of thousands of tales have been told in bright shades of ochre – stories that, under the stress of weather and time, have been fading from our landscape. Lost forever in some cases, or so we thought.

The digital age is breathing new life into ancient rock art around the globe, from Mexican caves to the Sahara Desert to the mountains and foothills of Western Canada. With the help of NASA-inspired software called DStretch, pictographs no longer visible to the naked eye are being revived, giving cultural archivists a fresh look into the past and a vital new preservation tool.

The software has allowed Parks Canada to uncover myriad hidden treasures at aboriginal pictograph sites in British Columbia and Alberta. Forgotten tales are resurfacing.

“It opens an entirely new chapter in rock art analysis and … rock art preservation,” said Parks Canada archeologist Brad Himour. “DStretch has the ability to bring back images and pictographs that we would have thought of as being lost up until just very recently.”

Briefing: What's Killing All of the Bats? And Why Should We Be Worried?

Senator Leahy, Senator Cardin, and Senator Lautenberg are hosting a briefing and discussion of White-Nose Syndrome in bats, an emerging ecological and animal welfare crisis that poses a threat to agriculture, the environment, and economic activity that is spreading across the country.

White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is estimated to have killed well over five million bats since its discovery in 2006. Since then, it has caused the most precipitous decline of North American wildlife in the past century. With the announcement yesterday of the discovery of WNS in Alabama, a total of 17 states and four Canadian Provinces have been confirmed with the disease. This finding in Alabama represents the southern-most occurrence of WNS in North America.

The loss of bats will likely have serious consequences, costing our nation's farmers billions of dollars <http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Products/Publications/23069a/23069a.pdf>. Since bats eat many insects, including pests that damage crops such as corn, cotton, and potatoes, and that carry diseases such as West Nile Virus. Mining, energy development, tourism, and other industries will be affected if more bat species are declared threatened or endangered. And the absence of this keystone predator may have profound impacts on the environment.

You are invited to attend this briefing to hear from leading experts who will address these topics and more, including what can be done to stop WNS.

Speakers:
  • Jeremy Coleman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - National White-nose Syndrome Coordinator
  • Paul Phifer, Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services - USFWS Northeast Region
  • David Blehert, Microbiologist for the USGS National Wildlife Health Center

Emmy-winning 'lost tribes’ journalist Jacobovici to address Friedman patrons, trustees

Emmy award-winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, seen in
a cave during filming in Jerusalem, will share his journey
to uncover the secrets of the “Lost Tribes of Israel" Tuesday
at the Lorraine & Jack N. Friedman Commission for Jewish
Education’s annual Patron and Trustee event.
Emmy award-winning filmmaker and New York Times best-selling author Simcha Jacobovici will share his journey to uncover the secrets of the “Lost Tribes of Israel.”

He will speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Lorraine & Jack N. Friedman Commission for Jewish Education’s annual Patron and Trustee event at the Palm Beach Country Club, 760 N. Ocean Blvd .

Jacobovici’s discoveries form the basis for creating Quest for the Lost Tribes. The documentary follows Jacobovici from his meetings with the Taliban, to an ancient Jewish presence on the island of Djerba, to China, India and throughout the Middle East.

For the past 10 years, Jacobovici has applied his journalistic skills to historical and archaeological investigations. He calls this technique “investigative archaeology.” As a result, Jacobovici has also produced the documentaries The Exodus Decoded and The Lost Tomb of Jesus. He also hosted three seasons of the series The Naked Archaeologist.

How to turn caves into giant batteries

How do we build a world that's less dependent on fossil fuels? One solution is right under your feet. Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) is a very boring name for a very awesome system that turns the Earth itself into a giant battery. Experts say it's one of the most cost-effective ways to store energy on a massive scale—something that we'll have to do if we want to use more wind and solar power, and less coal and natural gas. Here's how it works.

Every day, in more ways than we even realize, you and I depend on the reliability of our electric grid-the network of wires that connect power plants, houses, and businesses in an endless circuit. But that grid is flawed in a lot of ways, some of which hinder our ability to make energy more sustainable. For instance, the grid has no storage, at least not enough to matter. And that means that it's not as reliable as we think it is.

At any given moment, there must be almost exactly the same amount of electricity being produced as there is being consumed. If the balance tilts either way-even by a fraction of a percent-it could lead to a blackout. To simply keep the lights on, the grid has to be constantly monitored, with controllers predicting demand and making small adjustments, minute-by-minute, to supply. This happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The job is hard enough with coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydro power plants, which can increase or decrease production more-or-less on demand. As we rely more on wind and solar power, though, it'll get harder. That's because the output from those energy sources is more dependent on the weather than on what the grid needs. If you've got a lot of electric demand, but not much wind, you can't ask a wind farm to produce more electricity.

Seven new grottoes discovered in Phong Nha-Ke Bang

Son Doong Cave
Mr. Ho Khanh, who discovered Son Doong Cave and joined a recent exploration of a group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, says that the group, led by Dr. Howard Limbert, discovered many caves during this one-week trip.

Khanh says that the newly-discovered caves are located in remote areas and they are named Gio (wind), Con Chay, Ky and Hai Cua (two doors).

According to Khanh, these caves are untouched and have many beautiful stalactites. British scientists are measuring the length of these caves.

The complex of caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang holds many records: the area with the largest system of caves, the area with the highest number of underground rivers, and having the largest and longest dry cave.

The most famous cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang is Son Doong. The cave was found by a Ho Khanh, a local man in 1991. However, not until 2009 was it made known to the public when a group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Dr. Howard Limbert, conducted a survey in Phong Nha-Ke Bang from April 10-14, 2009. Their progress was stopped by a large calcite wall. According to Limbert, this cave is five times larger than the Phong Nha cave, previously considered the biggest cave in Vietnam. The biggest chamber of Son Doong is over five kilometers in length, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide. With these dimensions, Son Doong overtakes Deer Cave in Malaysia to take the title of the world's largest cave.

The cave has been known worldwide after a report and pictures of British scientists’ exploration were published on the National Geographic journal in late 2010.

Source: Vietnamnet

Archaeology conference March 16-18 at Mammoth Cave National Park

A customized tour of Mammoth Cave and an opportunity to visit the newly upgraded visitor center will be highlights of the 29th Annual Kentucky Heritage Council Archaeology Conference convening this weekend (March 16-18) at Mammoth Cave National Park. The conference is co-sponsored by the WKU Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology, the WKU Office of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Kentucky Organization of Professional Archaeologists.

The conference is the primary opportunity for professional archaeologists working in Kentucky to share research, project updates and important findings from their investigation of historic and prehistoric archaeological sites across the state. Paper and poster presentations will cover a wide range of topics, including:

Archaic occupation of a well-known Mississippian site.

Little-known rockshelter and cave sites in Jefferson County.

Transitional Woodland/Mississippian sites in the Falls area of Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.

Various Fort Ancient studies.

Lake Shasta Caverns receive award

The National Park Service has notified Lake Shasta Caverns they have been awarded the Natural National Landmark (NNL) designation.

This has been a 40-year process with the original application sent in 1974.

This award is issued within the criteria of the condition and quality of the caves, rarity and value to science and education.

We have waited so long to receive this designation and we are ecstatic, said Matt Doyle, caverns geveral manager. We expect an increase in guest attendance from out of the area due to this recognition.

Lake Shasta Caverns are a network of caves located near the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake and date back at least 200 million years, formed by flowing water.

Made entirely of limestone, these caves feature every type of possible formation, including stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, columns and flowstone.

With a total of 35 Natural National Landmark sites in California, Lake Shasta Caverns now becomes number 36.

The closest cave with this designation Is Black Chasm Cave and is located 219 miles away.

Lake Shasta Caverns is open to the public with daily tours all year long. The caverns are located at 20359 Shasta Caverns Road, just off Interstate 5, north of Shasta Lake.

For more information visit the website at www.lakeshastacaverns.com or call 1-800-795-CAVE (2283) or 238-2341.

Researchers Send Neutrino Message Through Solid Stone

For the first time, a team of U.S. researchers have successfully used a beam of neutrinos–extremely low mass particles that can travel at the speed of light–to transmit a message through an obstacle.

According to a Wednesday article from Ars Technica reporter Casey Johnston, the scientists, who were representing the University of Rochester and North Carolina State University (NC State), fired the neutrinos through roughly 780 feet of solid bedrock. When the particles emerged on the other side, the recipients were clearly able to make out the intended message, which was quite simply the word “neutrino.”

The neutrinos were produced at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab (Fermilab) facility located near Chicago, using one of their particle accelerators to produce the high-energy beam and then the MINERVA detector, a multi-ton detector located in a cave more than 300 feet below the Earth’s surface, to read the binary code-message, Rebecca Boyle reported on Thursday.

Caverns volunteer work 'spring break' for Texas students

A group of Texas A&M University students this past week dispelled the myth that when spring break rolls around, college students turn into party animals and spend a lot of money.

The students showed Carlsbad Caverns National Park staff they were willing to roll up their sleeves, perform manual labor and have fun doing it.

The dozen students and their staff advisor signed up for their school's annual alternative spring break program and found this year they were heading to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

"They were awesome and incredible. I was just blown away," said Sam Denman, park archeologist, in describing the group's work ethic and willingness to learn about the park. "I hope they set a trend for other students to volunteer."

Christine Jones, a junior at A&M, said this was her third year as a volunteer with alternative spring break and the program has taken her to different parts of the country.

"Every year we plan a trip. This year, we had planned to go to Florida, but that didn't work out. Our trip coordinator sent out e-mails and the people at Carlsbad Caverns National Park replied first," Jones said. "Coming here has been awesome. We shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears because sometimes the work was hard. But we all bonded with each other and the rangers that worked with us."

The students, during their week-long volunteer stint, cleaned lint from formations in the cave, removed barbed wire and old telephone poles and lines along the park escarpment, and helped clean a historical dump site.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Three New Cave Art Sites Found in Cuba

Three new stations of cave art were discovered in the Imias Wild Reserve, to the southeast of the Cuban eastern province of Guantanamo.

The paintings are characterized by the use of red, a color that has been seen in only other three stations in the eastern region of the island.

The finding was made during a joint expedition by the Pedro Borras and Fernando Ortiz groups, both members of the Speleological Society of Cuba, and the Cuban Cave Art Research Group (GCIAR), of the Institute of Anthropology.

According to Granma newspaper, the Pedro Borras Group’s president Efren Jaimez Salgado and the GCIAR national deputy coordinator Divaldo Gutierrez Calvache agreed on considering that the new finding ratifies the importance of the region for studies on this type of cultural expression of our native peoples.

Cave art includes pictographs, that is, symbols or pictures representing ideas; and petroglyphs (rock drawing) executed in caverns, rock shelters, grouts and on rocks by pre-Columbian groups or populations.

In Cuba, 285 cave art sites or stations have been officially registered. The largest amount have been located in the provinces of Matanzas, Guantanamo and Pinar del Rio.

Teen will chart Namibian caves

A teenager from Stithians is raising funds for a scientific expedition to Namibia later this year.
Morgan Whittaker, 15, has managed to secure one of only 28 places nationwide for the five-week trip.

He said: "This will not be a holiday, but a test of survival skills, while carrying out important scientific projects."

The first part of the fieldwork will be in the desert mountains, known as the Brandberg Massif, and involve climbing, abseiling and caving.

Prehistoric paintings in the cave networks have been observed and documented since the early 20th century, but they have never been mapped, which will form the basis for the work in that area.

The next part of the fieldwork will be based in the savannah grasslands monitoring the elephant herds in conjunction with Elephant-Human Relations Aid (EHRA).

This will involve tracking, observation and recording of accurate data while trekking in an area of big game.

Deadly bat disease found at Russell Cave

A cluster of little brown bats hibernate in New Mammoth
Cave near LaFollette, Tenn. Researchers with the University
of Tennessee and Bucknell University are collecting 100
little brown bats from Tennessee caves for research aimed at
combating white nose syndrome, a fungal disease that infects
and kills hibernating bats. The disease has been found at
Russell Cave in North Alabama.
A disease that already has killed nearly 7 million bats in the eastern United States in the past five winters has hit home in one of the region’s best-known cave systems.

Wildlife officials have confirmed white-nose syndrome in Russell Cave near Bridgeport, Ala., about 29 miles west of Chattanooga.

The Russell Cave complex features miles of passages, with entrances on both private land and the Russell Cave National Monument, operated by the National Park Service. Researchers have found evidence of continuous human occupation at the cave over the past 10,000 years.

Molly Matteson, a bat specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity of Tucson, said the discovery of the disease in Alabama — a first this far south — is particularly troubling to biologists because Alabama hosts the country’s largest wintering colony of federally endangered gray bats.

If the species proves susceptible to the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, it could be devastated in a short time, she said.

All bats are an important weapon against mosquitos and agricultural insect pests, she said.