Now it’s down! Researchers discover Australia’s deepest known cave

Researchers have discovered the deepest known cave in Australia and named it after a variant of the Covid virus.

The cave, named Delta Variant, reaches 1,315 feet (401 meters) in the Florentine Juni Karst. Tasmaniasouthern island of Australia.

The Delta variant is only slightly deeper than Australia’s previous record holder, Niggly Cave, which is 1,302 feet (397 meters) deep and is located in the same cave system.

However, none of them compare to the deepest known cave in the world, the Verevkin Cave in Abkhazia, Georgia, which reaches 7,257 feet (2,212 meters).

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An elite team of nine cavers from South Tasmania have set a new record for the deepest cave in Australia at the Niggly and Growling Swallet cave system in Tasmania.

'A grueling expedition': Explorers celebrate when they reach the bottom of Variant Delta, Australia's deepest known cave.

‘A grueling expedition’: Explorers celebrate when they reach the bottom of Variant Delta, Australia’s deepest known cave.

The Delta variant is only slightly deeper than Australia's previous record holder, Niggli Cave, which is 1,302 feet (397 meters) deep and is located in the same cave system.

The Delta variant is only slightly deeper than Australia’s previous record holder, Niggli Cave, which is 1,302 feet (397 meters) deep and is located in the same cave system.

HOW DO CAVES FORM?

Caves form when flowing water slowly dissolves rocks over long periods of time, explains Gabriel Rau, lecturer at Newcastle University in New South Wales, Australia.

In particular, they form in certain geological formations called “karsts” which include limestone, marble and dolomite structures.

“Karst is made up of tiny fossilized microorganisms, shell fragments and other debris that have accumulated over millions of years,” he said.

“Long after death, small sea creatures leave behind their “calcareous” shells, consisting of calcium carbonate.

“This limestone sediment forms relatively soft geological structures. As the water drains through the crevices in the rock, it continuously dissolves the rock, slowly forming a cavern system.”

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The so-called delta variant is associated with the Niggli cave system and the Tasmanian Snarling Swallows, northwest of Hobart, Tasmania’s capital.

At 1,315 feet, that’s the equivalent of three Sydney Harbor Bridges or four London’s Elizabeth Towers stacked on top of each other.

An elite team of South Tasmanian cavers discovered the cave after 14 hours underground and after six months of preparation.

The team entered the cave at around 11 am local time last Saturday (July 30) and left at around 1:30 am on Sunday.

“I was definitely nervous, you feel like you’re conscious of your mortality,” team member Ciara Smart said.

“Even though you know you are safe, it is very frightening and the sound too is the constant roar of a waterfall. You can’t hear anything above your own breathing, it’s scary at times.”

The cave was named after the Covid variant “to remind future cavers of contemporary events,” the researchers said.

Parts of the cave have even been named after other Covid-related terminology, including “Test Station Queue”, “Super Spreader”, and “Daily Cases”. ABC reports.

The explorers faced difficult conditions underground, in part due to high water levels from the recent snowfall during the Australian winter.

“The cave was exceptionally tense,” caver Ben Armstrong said.

The explorers faced difficult conditions underground, in part due to high water levels from the recent snowfall during the Australian winter.

The explorers faced difficult conditions underground, in part due to high water levels from the recent snowfall during the Australian winter.

“It was very vertical, requiring you to climb and descend hundreds of meters on ropes.”

The cave is located a few meters from the entrance to the Niggly and Growling Swallet cave system.

It includes the Niggli Cave, discovered in 1994, which was previously the country’s deepest known cave.

Gabriel S. Rau, a lecturer in Newcastle University’s School of Environmental and Life Sciences, said the Delta variant is just “an appetizer in the wider world of caves.”

“I’m sure there are small spaces, too tight for us to explore, that open up into much longer or larger systems than we’ve ever discovered,” he wrote for Talk.

The picture shows an explorer of Niggli Cave in Tasmania, Australia's previous record holder for the deepest cave.

The picture shows an explorer of Niggli Cave in Tasmania, Australia’s previous record holder for the deepest cave.

caver trapped underground rescued alive after 3-day mission

A seriously injured caver trapped in a 900-foot-deep cave system under the Brecon Lighthouses after falling off a 50-foot ledge was rescued last November.

A 40-year-old man was pulled out of the caves in Ogof Ffinnon Ddu by a rescue team.

Working in 12-hour shifts, about 250 workers carried a man out of the cave system on a stretcher.

After being lifted to the surface, rescuers cheered and applauded before being helped down into the cave in a rescue Land Rover, ready to be transported to a waiting ambulance.

The operation, which lasted 57 hours and lasted three days, was the longest of its kind in Wales.

About 250 rescuers, including the team that rescued 12 young Thai soccer players in 2018, painstakingly carried the victim on a stretcher through narrow caves punctuated by bubbling streams and waterfalls.

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