The Longest Salt Cave in the World
The longest salt cave in the world was found at the southern Dead Sea
13 years after being taken by the Iranians, the world record is returning to Israel: Israeli and European cave explorers have completed a new measurement of the longest cave in Israel and found out that its length is 10 km. This means: it is the longest salt cave in the world.” Project leaders are happy: “Not every day a new world record is set”
“The Cave Record” returns to Israel: The longest salt cave in the world was found at the Dead Sea. It is 10 kilometers long; the previous record was help by Iran for a 6.5 kilometers long cave.
Mount Sodom, located in the southern corner of the Dead Sea, has been studied for decades and was famous for its unique natural phenomena. The mountain, which is almost entirely made of salt, now has about 150 caves that descend into the depths of the salt rock. The caves were studied in the 1980s by Prof. Amos Frumkin of the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University and director of the Cave Research Center. As part of the research, a large salt cave with a total length of about 5.5 km, was found and named Malcham Cave. The cave discovery presented the intensity of the phenomenon at a global level, since the rest of the salt caves that were known then in the world were only hundreds of meters long. The cave is not regulated for visits by the general public, and every entry requires an escort from cave specialist who knows the cave.
In 2006 it was reported that a longer cave was found, the 3N Cave in Iran, which is 6.5 kilometers long. In the past two years the Israeli cave has been re-measured by Israeli and international researchers from the Cave Research Center at the Hebrew University, Israel Cave Explorers Club, The Cave Club of the Sophia School in Bulgaria, together with an international team of cave explorers from Bulgaria, France, Britain, Croatia, Romania and the Czech Republic, supported by the European Speleological Federation and the Bulgarian Speleological Federation, and even by The Bulgarian Youth and Sports Ministry and other groups such as the FSE, Aventure Verticale, Korda’s, Scurion, etc – this resulted in a new measurement that made the Israelis smile. It was found that the cave length was 10 kilometers when there were other parts that had not yet been mapped.
“This time we are talking about a full mapping of the cave”
“The mapping made us burst in joy”
Prof. Amos Frumkin, director of the Center for Caves Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has been leading the Dead Sea Caves Research for about four decades, said: “The mapping carried out last week by an international delegation made us burst in joy. Using the tools in our possession we understood that this cave is the largest salt cave in the world, and that it bypasses the longest cave recorded to date in Iran, which is more than six kilometers long. In contrast to previous tests done in the past, this time we are talking about a full and comprehensive mapping of the cave.”
Prof. Frumkin also argues that “the methods that have developed over the years make the re-documentation effort worthwhile, 30 years ago we worked with measuring tapes, compass, and an inclinometer. Today the mapping teams are working with a laser range meter that is transmitting directly to a tablet, enabling accurate work that represented the magnitude of the phenomena. Difficult openings leading to upper levels have not yet been fully examined until now, and their examination in has led to parts that were not previously known. Presenting the full structure of the cave contributes to a firm understanding of the intensity of the phenomenon.”
What is the age of the cave? According to Professor Frumkin, “We have dated the cave with the help of carbon 14 and we know it around 7,000 years old. The tunnel development rate is the fastest due to salt solubility.”
The Israeli cave team of explorers
“The Dead Sea Caves in Israel – a phenomenon on a global scale”
Boaz Langford, a geology student at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a cave specialist at the Center for Caves Research, who led the re-mapping, added that “Salt caves in Israel are a global phenomenon. In every encounter with international cave specialist is full of enthusiasm regarding the Dead Sea caves. This is a unique phenomenon with limited global distribution; most of the world’s salt caves are located and studied in Israel. A reexamination of the Malcham Cave was required in order to present its full dimensions in relation to other international caves. It turns out that Israel has a place of honor on the worldwide podium.”
Langford, about the work in the cave: “In order to work precisely, we examined every level and every burrow. The cave has several sections, each with levels and floors, including vertical shafts. Not a place to be lost at.”
Israel has the most salt caves in the world
“Endless” salt shafts and tunnels
Yoav Negev, one of the project’s leaders and the leader of the cave-lovers’ club, said: “The project began with an agreement with the Cave Club of Sofia, Bulgaria, and it was clear that the Malcham Cave would be their main project. We do not have a cave in Israel that is suitable for collaborations with international delegations, both in terms of size and the importance of the natural phenomenon. In total, 50 specialists participated in the project, half of them Israelis and half of them international. Everyone returned home with a special feeling. It’s not every day that you set a new world record. “
Efraim Cohen, a cave specialist at the Cave Research Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: “Working in a cave is suitable for experienced professionals only, 10 hours a day under the ground with documenting “endless” shafts and salt tunnels require patience. Sometimes it feels like you are going in circles. crawling in ice-like salt channels, seeing amazing salt-stalactite galleries and salt-crystal walls – this is one of the closest experiences to exploring another planet. Completing the cave documentation requires a more field measurements. The remaining field work is the most difficult since it is in the most remote areas of the cave, 10 kilometers and it is not the end. “
Malcham Cave. The longest salt cave in the world