How Australia’s deepest cave was discovered

During the week, Ciara Smart was a PhD candidate in history at the University of Tasmania.

Over the weekend, she was a member of a caving club that discovered the deepest cave in Australia over the weekend of July 31.

Smart and seven members of the all-volunteer Southern Tasmanian Caverneers (STC) team have officially mapped and measured their country’s deepest known cave, clocked at a vertical 401 metres. (1,315 feet).

It is located in Tasmania’s Mount Field National Park, northwest of the island state’s capital, Hobart.

In the small but closely intertwined cave community, one of the most inviolable rules is that whoever discovers the cave must name it. As for the Southern Tasmanian Caves, there is only one fitting name for a cave whose depth became apparent during the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic in Australia – Delta Variant.

“With COVID-19, there are a lot of different words attached to it that are quite descriptive. So we were able to use the whole COVID-19 naming theme for the whole cave,” explains Smart.

The entrance to the cave, tight and narrow, is the Check Station Queue. Then there was another claustrophobic section called Close Contact, a large horizontal section dubbed the Supers Spreader Event, and a beautiful, spacious section now called Freedom Day.

Although the caves were discovered by accident, today there are many scientific tools that caves can use to determine their next location and gather information before going down left. soil.

STC took a multi-pronged approach to cave investigation that would become the Delta Variant. Members used satellite data to map the area, then used a 3D laser modeling tool to get a viable picture of what the cave system might look like.

After narrowing down to one spot, they used a dye to pinpoint the exact location of the water source in the cave – a waterfall deep within.

Then it’s time to go underground.

Although events like the 2018 story of the Thai soccer team, being trapped in a cave and rescued after a difficult three-week mission, can make caving operations difficult. looks unsafe, Smart warns people not to be intimidated.

With the right equipment, experienced people and extensive knowledge of the caves you’ll be exploring, you can have fun and – like Smart and her team did – can make the history.

“In fact, the most dangerous part of the day when you’re out in a cave is often the driving to and from,” she says.

For Smart, the main appeal of exploration is the wide range of activities it covers.

“It’s an addictive hobby because on the one hand, it’s fun,” she says.

“You know, you’re going down, you’re climbing, you’re crawling or you’re just caving. But it’s also science because we’re putting all these caves together, we’re link them and understand how water flows through and how caves form.”

To enter such a deep cave – in total, eight caves have spent about 14 hours underground – special equipment is required.

Team members have worn super bright headlights and retrofitted with backup lights just in case.

Due to the waterfall, Delta Variant is quite wet and the caves are sprayed with water in some sections. To keep warm, they wear layers of fleece and felt, topped with plastic jackets, rubber boots and waterproof gloves.

A few members added a special accessory to their outfits – pointed paper party hats to celebrate their achievements.

While the Delta Variant has set a new record in Australia, the majority of the world’s deepest underworlds are located in Europe and Central Asia.

Four of the deepest caves in the world are in Georgia. The deepest of them is named Veryovkina and measures a staggering 2,212 vertical meters (7,200 feet).

Other countries with deep caves are France, Slovenia, Croatia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and Switzerland.

Before that, Australia’s deepest cave was Niggly, located next to the Delta Variant. It is only four meters shallower than the Delta Variant and is part of the same interconnected system.

As if exploring and mapping Australia’s largest cave weren’t enough, explorers have been given special permission to collect samples of a species of small cave shrimp that may be a new species.

A thesis and two potential historical finds? Smart can’t help but fall in love with her unusually passionate couple.

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