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December 21, 2010 4:24 AM   Subscribe

Thought to be first entered in April 2009 by a team of British explorers, Hang Son Doong is now believed to be the world's largest cave. Interactive map.
posted by paulsc (37 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. That is definitely giving the Navidsons a run for their money.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 4:26 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. The pictures are incredible.
posted by vacapinta at 4:45 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The photographs are uniformly amazing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:47 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unbelievable.
posted by gen at 5:17 AM on December 21, 2010


Literally awesome.
posted by various at 5:20 AM on December 21, 2010


That's amazing. The pictures are so otherworldly that it is hard to believe it's real.

This pale blue dot is flippin' incredible.
posted by purephase at 5:33 AM on December 21, 2010


*click* No way.
*click* NO WAY.
*click* Holy shit!
*click* How is that even possible?

Great post.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:43 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


A+++
posted by clarknova at 5:53 AM on December 21, 2010


The last picture in the "Cactus Garden" looks like it was taken on another world. Amazing!
Thanks for posting.
posted by purge at 5:54 AM on December 21, 2010


Maybe that's what all the fighting was about.
posted by punkfloyd at 6:13 AM on December 21, 2010


What strikes me as most incredible about the cave is that the river flowing through it can apparently rise 300 feet during the rainy season, flooding much of it. That's some serious hydrodynamics!
posted by paulsc at 6:15 AM on December 21, 2010


Wow. The pictures are incredible.

No kidding. Mind-blowingly beautiful. I hope that the claims of preserving it from high-impact tourism are true -- it won't be as amazing with cement walkways and electric lights everywhere.
posted by Forktine at 6:23 AM on December 21, 2010


Based on what I've seen of tourist development in that region over the past decade or so, I'd say the cave is living on borrowed time. Hey, I could be wrong, but frankly I expect a half-assed "warrior monk" troupe to be performing there in a year or so.
posted by aramaic at 6:27 AM on December 21, 2010


This is really incredible, although it is too bad they didn't get any photos of the dinosaurs.
posted by snofoam at 6:30 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Watch out for creepers.
posted by empath at 6:36 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


What strikes me as most incredible about the cave is that the river flowing through it can apparently rise 300 feet during the rainy season, flooding much of it. That's some serious hydrodynamics!

This did strike me as pretty crazy at first, but if you figure that above ground rivers generally rise in height and increase in width when they are more full, maybe it is not that unusual. In an extreme example, if the cave were only one foot wide, then rising 300 feet might not actually be that much water.
posted by snofoam at 6:43 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Want cave pearls. Now!!
posted by Xurando at 7:00 AM on December 21, 2010


I want to go there.
posted by bondcliff at 7:03 AM on December 21, 2010


* mouth agape *
posted by From Bklyn at 7:14 AM on December 21, 2010


It's amazing how many worlds are contained within our own.

...how many more are out there, left to be discovered?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:22 AM on December 21, 2010


Wow. There's this alien planet under our feet.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:23 AM on December 21, 2010


wow. So beautiful.


> Watch out for creepers.

Watch out for CHUD
posted by zombieApoc at 7:30 AM on December 21, 2010


Wow, it's like the great age of British exploration again, only without the imperialism!
posted by happyroach at 7:32 AM on December 21, 2010


Based on what I've seen of tourist development in that region over the past decade or so, I'd say the cave is living on borrowed time.

Agreed.

I just watched For All Mankind and part of what's so breathtaking about the footage in it is — as Buzz Aldrin said — the magnificent desolation of our moon. It's kind of funny that one of the first things men did to it was put up a flag to make it a bit less sublime.

At the same time that humans are natural explorers (something Aldrin or Armstrong expressed on the surface — I can't find the quote), we're also builders. And for whatever reason we're obsessively compelled to put a mark on things. Our impulse tells us that this is better.

While that can be fancifully Romantic — see Style Wars — it's also us burying our ability to satisfy the sensations of exploration. Wherever there's a flag, a light show, an old base camp, a half-assed band of warrior monks, there's explicitly not that feeling of seeing something that is simultaneously new and arcane. Marked things are just things that are already ours.

As much as there's a value to the mark, there's also a value to a blank. Even when the blank is an illusion itself.

Maybe that's the invisible hand of the market at play ... if we left everything new, we'd never have the urge to find a bigger Hang Son Doong. If we'd never put a flag on the Moon, we wouldn't be wondering about Mars.
posted by pokermonk at 7:42 AM on December 21, 2010


soon to be renamed "Khazad Doong".
posted by luvcraft at 7:50 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the second-to-last photo, the rock formation at lower left looks like a giant Gollum ready to quiz the spelunkers.

*shudder*

Awesome!
posted by notsnot at 7:53 AM on December 21, 2010


Also amazed by the linked Cavern of Crystal Giants, which I had not heard of. Holy Batcave, caves are amazing.
posted by maryr at 8:05 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Amazing stuff! I had always thought that Mammoth Cave in KY was the "largest", but in the article there is this clarification:

There are longer caves than Hang Son Doong—the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky, with 367 total miles, holds that record. There are deeper caves too—Krubera-Voronja, the “crow’s cave,” plunges 7,188 feet in the western Caucasus Mountains of Georgia. But for giant passages, there are few caves that can compare. At the time of the Limberts’ discovery of Hang Son Doong, the largest passage was thought to be Deer Cave in Malaysian Borneo’s Gunung Mulu National Park, which was recently surveyed at 1.2 miles long, 500 feet wide, and 400 feet tall. But as the explorers would eventually determine, using precise laser instruments, Hang Son Doong is more than 2.5 miles long with a continuous passage as wide as 300 feet and, in places, over 600 feet high.

Fantastic stuff. And so different from what one thinks of as a "typical" cave... this one has algae and (in places) parts of a jungle!
posted by math at 8:17 AM on December 21, 2010


Careful they don't dig too deep... the denizens of K'n-yan don't often take kindly to interlopers. And lords help them if they crack open one of the sealed entrances to lightless N'kai...
posted by FatherDagon at 9:08 AM on December 21, 2010


Over the summer I read Blind Descent and Into the Deep, two excellent books about finding the world's deepest cave. They were focused on a cave system in Mexico, but were beaten pretty soundly by another system in the Caucasus Mountains. Both books are very compelling, and I finished them in only a couple days.

Large caves are pretty cool, but nothing compared to the ones where you spend 2+ months underground squirming through 2-foot-wide cracks and carrying special diving equipment with you so you can then spend hours underwater. That's really cool.
posted by lilac girl at 9:25 AM on December 21, 2010


You just vindicated an 6 year old Whelk who got told in no uncertain terms to stop digging in the backyard cause there aren't any cool dungeons hidden underneath.
posted by The Whelk at 10:20 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately most of the 'cave' is infested with mynocks.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:39 AM on December 21, 2010


Needs a 'holy fucking shit!' tag. Amazing.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:52 AM on December 21, 2010


you spend 2+ months underground squirming through 2-foot-wide cracks and carrying special diving equipment with you so you can then spend hours underwater.

oh hello panic attack how have you been
posted by elizardbits at 1:22 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And that right there is why I subscribe to nat geo. I get awesome like that every month of the year for only fifty bucks Australian. A total bargain.
posted by smoke at 2:23 PM on December 21, 2010


One man to paint it.
posted by eegphalanges at 3:34 PM on December 21, 2010


Longest Cave
Deepest Cave

Fattest Cave
posted by ryanrs at 1:41 AM on December 24, 2010


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