Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

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Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

Post Number:#1  Postby Florida Photographer » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:39 pm

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A cave explorer stands before an imposing stalagmitemade of mineral depositsnear an entrance to the Xe Bang Fai River cave in central Laos.

An expedition in February 2008, co-led by veteran caver John Pollack, comprehensively mapped and photographed the 5.9-mile (9.5-kilometer) length of the little-known cavern for the first time.

The explorers encountered some of the largest rooms and most impressive structures of any river cave on Earth, Pollack said.

A river cave is any cave with an active water source flowing through it.

Everything about the cave is big-from its towering entrances to its phobia-inducing spiders, which can be 10 inches (25 centimeters) across, Pollack added.

"It's also extremely well decorated with spectacular formations," Pollack said.
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Re: Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

Post Number:#2  Postby Florida Photographer » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:40 pm

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The Xe Bang Fai River cave's gaping downstream entrance was used as a daily staging point for the February 2008 trip, funded by the National Geographic Society's Expeditions Council.

The cave has two known entrancesone upstream and one downstream.

The exploration team spent ten days surveying and photographing the cave, communicating in the darkness by walkie-talkie, and traveling by lightweight, inflatable kayaks.

The adventurers' longest day in the cave lasted 17 hours.
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Re: Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

Post Number:#3  Postby Florida Photographer » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:41 pm

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The Xe Bang Fai River cave is crowded with outsize features, such as this large limestone drapery formation.

First traversed on a bamboo raft by a French explorer in 1905, the cave, known locally as Tham Khoun Xe and occasionally visited by tourists, went unstudied for 90 years as war and political turmoil in Laos kept researchers out of the Southeast Asian country.

A French team returned briefly in 1995, but little useful data was gleaned. Caver John Pollack staged his first expedition to the site in 2006.
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Re: Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

Post Number:#4  Postby Florida Photographer » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:41 pm

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An explorer is dwarfed by draperies made of calcite deposits about two miles (three kilometers) from the Xe Bang Fai River cave's downstream entrance.

Caver John Pollack's 2008 team consisted of four Canadian and four American researchers aided by several Laotian guides and assistants.

The expedition's photographer Dave Bunnell shuttled mounds of photographic equipment into the caves.

"He'd spend all day setting up flashes and strobes, sometimes shooting the same shot 18, 20 times over," Pollack said.
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Re: Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

Post Number:#5  Postby Florida Photographer » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:42 pm

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Calcium carbonate formations (above) called gour or rimstone pools, form in the rainy season as water seeps in and collects in ponds, over time leaving complex deposits.

Explorer John Pollack's team found cube-shaped "cave pearls" in some of the cave's gour formations that were up to 12.6 inches (32 centimeters) in circumferencepotentially a world record, he said.

Pollack's team chose February, the middle of Laos's dry season, for its 2008 expedition to the Xe Bang Fai River cave.

Still river flow was measured at 12.8 cubic yards (9.8 cubic meters) per second.

During the August-September monsoon, the Xe Bang Fai River roars through the cave at up to 1,300 cubic yards (1,000 cubic meters) per second.
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Re: Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

Post Number:#6  Postby Florida Photographer » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:42 pm

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Cave explorers nicknamed this large room "the Cathedral" for its high, vaulted ceiling.

Explorer John Pollack calls the Xe Bang Fai River cave "an underground K2," which, based on the volume of water that passes through the cave and the size of its passages, is likely one of the largest river caves on Earth.

Expedition co-leader Bob Osburn is producing a highly detailed map of the cavern, and Pollack expects an article on the team's work and map to appear in the journal of the National Speleological Society in 2009.

He hopes to return to the cave in 2010.
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Re: Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

Post Number:#7  Postby Softy » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:43 pm

Wow,,,,thats a biggg cave.......

(:X
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Re: Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

Post Number:#8  Postby Gohot » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:43 pm

if that stalagmite is...what....90+ foot tall, what do you supose the lifespam of it is, or how many inches groth a year/century, although there is abundant rainfall/monsoon rain. Still I wonder the age of it?
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Re: Gigantic River Cave Revealed in Laos

Post Number:#9  Postby Gohot » Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:14 pm

And think about how old it is.... It's so huge that it must of taken millions of years to form... So, if the Creationists say the world is a few thousand years old biblically, how does this fit?
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