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Boybuloq (Vishnevsky – Boybuloq cave)

Boybuloq, view outside on the participants of the caving expedition in August 2021
Boybuloq, a look outside the cave on the participants of the caving expedition in August 2021. / PJakopin, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

WorldBlue  In short

There remain just some 70 m of distance between Boybuloq and Vishnevsky caves. When this passage will be passed, the united system of both caves will be the third deepest cave in the world with a depth of 2033 m and a length of some 25 000 m.

4 out of 10 stars 40.0%

GPS coordinates
38.39 N 67.5199 E
Location, address
Asia, Uzbekistan, Surxondaryo Region, Kumkurghon District, the southern part of Gissar Range, Baisun-Tau spur
Alternate names, parts of the cave system
Boy-Bulok, Boj-Bulok, Boybuloq cave, and Vishnevsky cave (initially CB-15) that almost form a single system
Length
Boybuloq: 15,212 m (whole system – 25,000 m)
Depth
Boybuloq: 1,430 m (whole system – 2,033 m)

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Entrance in Boybuloq cave in Chul-Bair range, marked with red
Entrance in Boybuloq cave in Chul-Bair range, marked with a red circle. / Petr Yakubson, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Description

This cave system has formed in the Upper and Middle Jurassic limestone. The limestone layer is 200-350 m thick – but it is oblique. The cave has formed (and continues to be formed) through the process of condensation.

The cave system currently (July 2022) consists of two closely located and, most likely, linked caves: Boybuloq and Vishnevsky Cave.

Boybuloq

Boybuloq is a narrow cave with oblique passages that in some places turn into vertical, up to 30 m deep pits and then again continue as narrow passages. The entrance is at a height of 1670 m (2.). In some places, the cave passages are just 20 cm wide. At the same time, the passages are continuously meandering. This combination makes the cave dangerous – others can not help someone who gets stuck in the narrows or falls into narrow pits. Thus, a speleologist who happened to fall and broke both legs had to crawl out of the cave on his own because no one could efficiently help to move him (1).

Upwards from the main entrance the cave passages go 272 m high. At this height, the passages become too narrow to pass, but the strong air current shows that it is connected to another – Vishnevsky Cave.

Vishnevsky Cave

This cave got its name from a well-known Russian speleologist Aleksandr Vishnevsky (1955-2015). He was one of the explorers of Boybuloq.

In general, Vishnevsky Cave is somewhat more spectacular than Boybuloq. It has an impressive 90 m tall chimney “Lucas Baldo” as well as nice cave formations inside. This is an alpine cave – the entrance in the cave is located at a height of 3,522 m and the climate at its entrance is harsh.

Potential for a single system

Physically both caves are connected but the passage between them is too narrow for a person to squeeze through it. Thus, formally these are two separate cave systems… for now. There is a possibility that a passable gallery will be found in the future.

Boybuloq and Vishnevsky Caves are located in a very suitable, rare geological formation: a thick limestone layer that, thanks to tectonic processes, is oblique. In most cases, the limestone layers are horizontal and rarely reach the extreme thickness of 2 kilometers. The current world’s deepest caves – Veryovkina Cave (2,212 m) and Krubera Cave (2,197 m) – have formed in such thick layers. Most likely, further research of these world-record holders will not make them much deeper because the full thickness of the limestone layer has been reached (or, almost reached).

The geological formations in Uzbekistan, around Boybuloq, though, offer a theoretical possibility of deeper caves.

History

Entrance in Boybuloq, 2017
Entrance in Boybuloq, 2017, with speleologist Elena Ljubavina./ Julia Ustinova Russia, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The name of the cave, Boybuloq, could be translated from the Uzbek language as “a rich source”. This enormous cave indeed is a source of clean water: after rain, a stream flows from it that is of huge value to the nearby ancient village of Dehibolo.

Thus, local people knew about the existence of the cave since ancient times.

  • April 1971 – the cave got tragic fame among the locals of Dehibolo after a local farmer Mustafo Holmominov disappeared in it. He was an avid, enthusiastic explorer of this cave but (as investigated by other speleologists later), after his lantern went out, he lost the way out, fell in a 27 m tall pit, and, most likely, died due to the fall. His lantern still stands above this pit.
  • August 1985 – speleological research started after the Russian speleologists learned that in this region are found deep caves. Speleologists from Ekaterinburg in this year entered the cave and found the remains of Mustafo. The cave itself was deemed to be a promising find and further expeditions took place in the following years.
  • 1989 – a joint Soviet-Italian team explored the passages up to the total depth of 1,310 m and in 1990 the next expedition expanded the depth to 1,376 m.
  • 1991 – 1992 – was reached the height difference of 1,415 m.
  • 2007 – 2021 – almost every year there are expeditions to Boybuloq, gradually expanding the network of the known passages.

    There was a hope to find a link between Holtan-Čašma spring and Boybuloq – this height difference would make Boybuloq the deepest cave in the world in these times. The spring was dived up to 170 m far, reaching unpassable passages.
  • 2015 – speleologists searched for the entrance in the passages above the Boybuloq. They discovered several caves and the most promising was code-named ČB-15 (Chul Bair 15) at the height of 3,522 m. Later this cave was named Vishnevsky Cave to commemorate the outstanding speleologist who deceased in this year.
  • 2016 – a joint Russian-Italian expedition researched Vishnevsky Cave and got a conviction that this cave is headed towards Boybuloq and might form a single system with it. Vishnevsky Cave was researched to a depth of 234 m and length of 1,089 m.
  • 2017 – Vishnevsky Cave was researched to a depth of 586 m and a length of 2,800 m.
  • 2019 – more spectacular passages and pits were discovered in Vishnevsky Cave and the explored depth of this cave reached 1,131 m and length of 8,004. Thus, even without the prospective connection to Boybuloq, it was a very impressive cave! Only 200 m of horizontal distance and 50 m of vertical distance divided Vishnevsky Cave from Boybuloq.
  • 2021 – the researched depth of Boybuloq reached 1430 m and the cave length was 15 212 m. The distance between Boybuloq and Vishnevsky Cave was further decreased to a mere 70 m – but the connecting passage was too narrow to pass through it.

Let’s wait for the results of the next expeditions!

References

  1. Сергей Куклев, Азия: туда и обратно. Начало. Цены и границы., Челябинский рабочий, 1999. Accessed on 13 July 2022.
  2. Вадим Логинов. Бой-Булок-2008, СГС. Первые полвека. 2011. pp. 58-66.

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