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Mamo Kananda Cave

WorldBlue  In short

The unique Mamo plateau contains more than 100 giant sinkholes over the area of 100 km². In very south-east of this area there have been found several caves, including the longest cave in papua New Guinea – Mamo Kananda Cave.

4.4 out of 10 stars 43.8%

GPS coordinates
5.6100 S 142.3314 E
Location, address
Australia and Oceania, Papua New Guinea, Southern Highlands Province, south-western part of Muller Plateau, 22 km north-west from Mount Karoma
54,800 m
528 m

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Plateau with underground rivers

The exotic Mamo plateau consists mainly of carbonate rock – the Darai limestone formation here is approximately 1,400 m thick. These rocks formed in the upper Oligocene – middle Miocene and over the last several millions of years have experienced a rise far above the sea level.

During the uprise rocks were fractured and folded and later water found a way through these layers.

Nowadays there are no rivers crossing the Mamo plateau above the ground, although this is one of the wettest places on Earth with approximately 11,500 mm of precipitation per year. All the rivers cross the plateau underground, discharging from the precipice – the southern rim of the Mamo plateau.

These powerful rivers create giant voids in the limestone. After some while, the ceiling of these voids collapses and gets covered with a non-permeable rock of siltstone and claystone layer which lies above the limestone here. The underground river then finds a new way through the rock and makes there new voids, which again collapse after some time…

Giant cave

For the most part, these collapses do not serve as entrances in caves. But in the southeastern part of the Mamo plateau, there are a few beautiful, giant sinkholes that contain entrances in caves.

The most impressive cave here is Mamo Kananda. The total length of explored passages has reached 54,800 m.

Cave has developed in eight levels – each of them has developed in more pure limestone layers of the Darai formation. Three chambers here have a giant size, exceeding the volume of 1 million m³. For example, at the furthest point of the cave, there is located an enormous chamber called: Space Oddity. It is the deepest part of the cave, located 528 m below the entrance. If one day this classic domed chamber will collapse, here will open a giant sinkhole.

Another characteristic chamber is Rinse Cycle – a phreatic tube that floods daily, after the afternoon storms.


  1. James J.M. Giant dolines of the Muller Plateau, Papua New Guinea, Accessed 25.07.10.

WorldYellow Linked articles

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Great Blue Hole / Eric Pheterson, Flickr / CC BY 2.0


This category includes outstanding sinkholes – large natural depressions or holes, which for most the part represent collapsed caves.

Marum Crater, 2009
Marum Crater, 2009./ Geophile71, WIkimedia Commons / public domain

Wonders of Melanesia

The most amazing wonders of Melanesia are caves and sinkholes, very interesting ecosystems, and, especially – sites of unusual legends.

Manjang Cave, South Korea
Manjang Cave / Korea.Net, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0


Every year there are reported exciting discoveries of new caves and discoveries of new qualities such as cave paintings in the ones known before. But there still is a feeling that our knowledge covers just a small part of all these monuments of nature.

Though, those which are known to us, offer a surprising diversity of unusual features and impressive sights.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Caves: Exploring Hidden Realms

A companion volume to the new IMAX film offers a sumptuously illustrated, close-up look at the world’s great cave environments, capturing the wonders and perils of caving and describing the unique characteristics of these underground habitats.

Encyclopedia of Caves

Encyclopedia of Caves is a self-contained, beautifully illustrated work dedicated to caves and their unique environments. It includes more than 100 comprehensive articles from leading scholars and explorers in 15 different countries. Each entry is detailed and scientifically sound, yet accessible for students and non-scientists.

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