Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Cave Systems and Speleology Spain!

The Hang Son Doong cave in Vietnam.
Son Doong cave
Vietnam - largest single
cave passage yet found (2009)
OK - for those who know me they are probably going to think "What?????!!!!?!!?!??!.... She has NEVER got into caving!!"  Well don't panic, you are right!  Dark, often small spaces and where water might flow are most certainly at the top of my list of things I would be terrified to do, however, I greatly admire those who are able to go under ground and explore cave systems because some of them are stunning and very beautiful.  I am however, happy to see photos!  The reason this is here is because during my Camino walk through Moixent I noticed cave entrances and then later doing my research found a cave system (mentioned in the last blog) and having often seen people getting kitted up between Chella and Enguera, I thought I would look up caving in Spain and in particular Valencia.

It appears that the geology of this area is ideal for cave formation and there appear to be many wonderful cave systems to go and explore.  From what I read, it would seem like a great place for speleologists to come and visit so I thought I would put a little information here in case any cave enthusiasts see it and fancy looking into a Spanish caving holiday.  Check out the following as there seem to be 64 different systems listed which can be explored:


It seems like the cave system past which I drive is likely to be the Sima La Moñigosa - a system of moderate difficulty and running 12.52 miles!!  No wonder I see so many people regularly getting ready to explore it.

Taken from Spanish blogspot of Jose Maria Simón including photos: http://josemariasimon-boti.blogspot.com.es/2008/12/la-sima-de-la-moigosa.html 


Esta situada en la finca de la Moñigosa en la Zona de Benali, la encontraremos una vez pasada la Cruz de Galima y el camino de entrada de las Casa Flores ,a unos 1oo metros del camino principal a la derecha, antes de llegar al caserío de la Moñigosa.La Cavidad tiene un desnivel de 29 metros y un recorrido total de 116 metros.El desarrollo es vertical formada por disolución, compuesta de una gran sala de orientación E.Esta Cavidad constituye una gran sala de orientación E,"Sala de la Chiquetes"(foto derecha) de 48 m de larga y 8 de anchura,cuya base esta formada por una rampa que desciende hasta el E. El acceso se produce por una boca de 60 x 60 cm. situada en la bóveda de la galería,en su lado O,descendiendo por un pozo aéreo de 6 m cuya base la forma un bloquee gigantesco.Desde la entrada de la cavidad y a unos 12 m en dirección NE existe una segunda boca inaccesible que comunica con la misma bóveda de la cavidad.El material a utilizar sera: 1cuerda de 32 m,1 cinta de 3 m,2 rev,.1 aco y 4 m/c/s.
Para mas 
información sobre Cuevas y Simas en la Sierra de Enguera lo podremos encontrar en el Libro de Silvino Vila, se puede adquirir en la Casa de la Cultura de Enguera.
Foto:Silvino Vila Carrió, enguerino, autor del libro "Cuevas de Enguera"

Caves are fascinating places and I thought it might be nice to include a little information from dear old Wikipedia:

Caving—also occasionally known as spelunking in the United States and Canada and potholing in the United Kingdom and Ireland—is the recreational pastime of exploring wild (generally non-commercialcave systems. In contrast, speleology is the scientific study of caves and the cave environment.

Cave conservation

Many cave environments are very fragile. Many speleothems can be damaged by even the slightest touch and some by impacts as slight as a breath.
Pollution is also of concern. Since water that flows through a cave eventually comes out in streams and rivers, any pollution may ultimately end up in someone's drinking water, and can even seriously affect the surface environment, as well. Even minor pollution such as dropping organic material can have a dramatic effect on the cave biota.
Cave-dwelling species are also very fragile, and often, a particular species found in a cave may live within that cave alone, and be found nowhere else in the world, such as Alabama cave shrimp. Cave-dwelling species are accustomed to a near-constant climate of temperature and humidity, and any disturbance can be disruptive to the species' life cycles. Though cave wildlife may not always be immediately visible, it is typically nonetheless present in most caves.
Bats are one such fragile species of cave-dwelling animal. Bats which hibernate are most vulnerable during the winter season, when no food supply exists on the surface to replenish the bat's store of energy should it be awakened from hibernation. Bats which migrate are most sensitive during the summer months when they are raising their young. For these reasons, visiting caves inhabited by hibernating bats is discouraged during cold months; and visiting caves inhabited by migratory bats is discouraged during the warmer months when they are most sensitive and vulnerable. 
Some cave passages may be marked with flagging tape or other indicators to show biologically, aesthetically, or archaeologically sensitive areas. Marked paths may show ways around notably fragile areas such as a pristine floor of sand or silt which may be thousands of years old, dating from the last time water flowed through the cave. Such deposits may easily be spoiled forever by a single misplaced step. Active formations such as flowstone can be similarly marred with a muddy footprint or handprint, and ancient human artifacts, such as fiber products, may even crumble to dust under all but the most gentle touch.
The Federación Española de Espeleología is the Spanish Speleological Association. There are also twelve Regional Associations ("Federaciones Autonómicas" in Spanish), and people must be associated with one of them so they can do caving.
GERS de l'A.E. Muntanya is a group from Barcelona focused in the exploration of new caves in Pirineos mountains and urban speleology.
From www.iberianature.com:
The largest cave chamber in Europe is the Torca del Carlista in the Basque Country. It measures some 520 metres by 245m. It is the fourth (not the second as some sources claim!) largest cave chamber in the world. Legend has it that a Carlist follower threw himself to his death here rather than be taken alive.

Longest caves in Spain
Ojo Guareña
110.000 m
Sistema del Alto Tejuelo
77.610 m
Sistema del Gándara
74.300 m
Cueva del Valle (Red del Silencio)
60.223 m
Sistema de la Piedra de San Martín
53.950 m
Sistema Garma Ciega-Bloque Cellagua-Sombrero-Mazo Chico-CruceroCantabria52.000 m
Sistema del Hayal de Ponata
49.000 m
Torca del Mortero de Astrana
48.000 m
Sistema de los Cuatro Valles
43.810 m
Sistema Arañonera
42.700 m
Deepest caves in Spain
Torca del Cerro del Cuevón
-1589 m
Sistema del Trave
-1441 m
Ilaminako Ateeneko Leizea
-1408 m
Sistema Arañonera
±1349 m
Sistema de la Piedra de San Martín
-1342 m
Sima de la Cornisa-Torca MagaliLeón-1330 m
Torca de los Rebecos
-1255 m
Pozo del MadejunoLeón-1252 m
Torca del Cueto de los Senderos
-1169 m
Torca Idoúbeda
-1167 m

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