Explorers have discovered the world’s deepest underwater cave in the eastern Czech Republic. The underwater cavern is deeper than 404 meters (1,325 feet). Scientists are excited about the secrets the flooded fissure might possibly be hiding.
A team of underwater explorers claim the cave they have discovered in the eastern Czech Republic is the world’s deepest flooded fissure. The underwater fissure is called the Hranicka Propast. It is a limestone abyss near the city of Hranice. If the claims are corroborated, the cave will be deeper than Italy’s Pozzo del Merro cave, which measures at 392 meters. Speaking about the underwater cave, Miroslav Lukas of the Czech Speleological Society said,
“We wanted to beat the Italian record. We succeeded and now we have the magic number of 404 metres. This cave is definitely deeper than that. I don’t know if it’s by five meters or a hundred, but the depth is set to change.”
The team of explorers, who are studying the cave, is being led by Polish explorer Krzysztof Starnawski, reported DW. He said he felt like a “Columbus of the 21st century” to have made the discovery near the Czech town of Hranice.
— Discover Magazine (@DiscoverMag) September 30, 2016
Starnawski, 48, and his colleagues have been studying the underwater labyrinth, locally known as the flooded limestone Hranicka Propast, or Hranice Abyss, for decades. However, they have been limited to the cave’s upper sections only. The depth of 404 meters isn’t the final depth, confirmed the explorer.
In the initial phase of his research, a robot reached a depth of 205 meters in the abyss, setting the deepest point in 1995. Thereafter in 2012, Starnawski came across a very narrow but accessible opening at 200 meters below the surface. A large break at the end of the opening allowed him to further his exploration. Starnawski kept on going and reached 373 meters. Three years later he reached 384 meters, but still hadn’t reached the bottom.
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These extensive depths can be brutal on the human body and Starnawski had to spend over six hours in a decompression chamber after his dive, forcing him to reluctantly agree to send a robot instead. Moreover, diving in underwater caves is extremely dangerous. Muddy waters and relatively low water temperatures make maneuvering difficult. Only a few experienced divers risk entering such underwater abysses and even fewer dare to go into uncharted regions.
The temperature of water in eastern Czech Republic is about 15 degree Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit). The water’s composition was not just taxing to the human body, causing injuries to any exposed body parts, but also damaging to equipment. Needless to say these aspects significantly increased the risk to the divers.
Have These Divers Found the World's Deepest Underwater Cave? https://t.co/EgDgGxMKf6
— Kaylin-Quinn (@KaylinQ) May 18, 2016
During the most recent exploration, Starnawski scuba dived to a narrow slot in the rock formation about 200 meters down and installed a signal line for the robot that would be navigated down to inspect and record depth, reported Sudan Vision Daily. Thereafter he sent the underwater robot or ROV further down the cave,
“The robot broadcast information about its depth and course into a monitoring device on the surface. It fell deeper and deeper, heading into places where we could see no bottom, until it reached 404 meters.”
The robot managed to reach 404 meters and had to stop because it ran out of the cord that was keeping it tethered to steering controls and cameras. Despite reaching the astonishing depth, the robot hadn’t touched the bottom of the cave, indicating it could be several more meters to the actual floor.
— The New Science (@NewScienceWrld) September 30, 2016
The expedition was partly funded by the National Geographic Society and is still not over. Since the robot ran out of cord, it is quite likely the explorers will return to try and seek the bottom of the underwater cave that has already beaten the flooded sinkhole, Pozzo del Merro in Italy, by 12 meters (39 feet).
[Featured Image by Alastair Pollock Photography/Getty Images]