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Veryovkina Cave

Veryovkina Cave, ascent from the Babatunda pit
Veryovkina Cave, ascent from the Babatunda pit. / Petr Lyubimov, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

WorldBlue  In short

Since March 2018 the deepest known cave in the world is Veryovkina Cave. Its depth is 2 212 m – 15 m more than the previous record-holder, Krubera Cave which is only some 5 kilometres to the southeast.

5.4 out of 10 stars 53.8%

GPS coordinates
43.3975 N 40.3598 E
Location, address
Asia, Georgia, Abkhazia, Gagra district, between Zont and Krepost mountains, entrance at the height of 2,285 m
Caves, Ecosystems, Geographical extremes
Name in regional languages
Вериовкин иҳаҧы (Abkhazian), ვერიოვკინის მღვიმე (Georgian), Пещера Верёвкина (Russian)
Length
17,500 m
Depth
2,212 m

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

History

Arabika Massif in the Greater Caucasus is a remarkable limestone massif with more than 2 kilometers thick layer of the Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous limestone. This mountainous region is crisscrossed with caves including several of the world’s deepest known caves.

Veryovkina Cave, eastward side view
Veryovkina Cave, eastward side view. / Павел Демидов, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Entrance – a 3 by 4 m large hole – in Veryovkina Cave was noticed earlier but the first descent in it took place in 1968. An expedition of Krasnoyarsk speleologists then reached the depth of 115 m and the cave got its first code name – С-115.

There is a huge lot of caves in Arabika Massif to explore and for some decades C-115 was forgotten. Even the location of its entrance was lost until 1982 when it was marked under another name – П1-7 but no one entered it then.

In the next year – in 1983 – speleologists from Moscow, “Perovo” club, entered the semi-forgotten cave and one of them (Oleg Parfenov) noticed that a strong breeze is coming from a small fracture. It was extended and a new abyss was discovered. In it speleologists reached the depth of 120 m, and saw that cave extends further below.

Now speleologists became a lot more interested in the cave and returned to it repeatedly, each year. This was definitely a very dangerous and technically complex cave for explorers – but we can’t deny that true speleologists find much pleasure in the exploration of such caves. After much danger and some injuries in 1986, they reached the depth of 440 m – already then it was one of the deepest known caves in the world. In this same year, the cave got an official name: Veryovkina Cave. It was named after Alexander Veryovkin – a speleologist who died in 1983 in Su-Akan – another Caucasian cave.

Veryovkina Cave, plan from above
Veryovkina Cave, plan from above . / Павел Демидов, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

After 2000 the exploration of the cave was restarted by the same “Perovo” club – Arabika Massif since 1981 has been divided among several speleological clubs and “Perovo” then got the part with Veryovkina Cave. Cave was thoroughly mapped but only in 2015 was found the entrance to the next abyss. In 2016 was reached a depth of 1 350 m, in February 2017 – 1 832 m. Now it was the second deepest cave in the world. In August 2017 the expected sensation happened: after long years of hard and risky work speleologists reached the world-record depth of 2 204 m.

In March 2018 the next expedition measured the depth of the lake (with the romantic name the Last Camp of Nemo) on the bottom of the deepest shaft – thus adding 8.5 m and achieving the depth of 2 212 m.

Description

The entrance to the world’s deepest cave is not too impressive – a 3 by 4 m large hole in the limestone of Arabika Massif.

This hole is 32 meters deep – more than enough to prevent occasional people from entering it.

But this is just a small preface. Further inside the descent in Veryovkoina Cave becomes an extreme feat requiring the very best speleological skills and a trivial fearlessness. Abyss follows an abyss and the most extreme is the 155 m deep Batabunda Well (seen on the main image of this article).

Very interesting feature of the cave is that until the depth of some 2 kilometers it is a vertical cave but at the extreme depth under the 2 kilometers it turns into a network of more or less horizontal pathways.

This enormous cave is not lifeless. Up to now (2022) have been collected 15 species of invertebrates but there, most likely, are more. Among these creatures is a leech belonging to the Dina genus – most likely an endemic species living only in the deepest caves of Arabika Massif. Also other creatures – pseudoscorpions, amphipods, daddy longlegs, spiders, ticks, centipedes – belong to very rare species that are found only in some more nearby caves.

Some species are even unique to Veryovkina Cave. At least one species – a shrimp Xiphocaridinella demidovi is new to science and thus far found only in this cave, exactly in the deepest place of the cave – in the Last Camp of Nemo lake. This species is named after Pavel Demidov, researcher of Veryovkina Cave who deceased in 2020 in another cave nearby. This is a tragic reminder about the extreme nature of the exploration of these dangerous caves.

Biological exploration of the invertebrates of Veryovkina Cave continues.

 

References

  1. ОТКРЫТИЕ И ИСТОРИЯ ИССЛЕДОВАНИЯ ПЕЩЕРЫ им. А. Веревкина (1968-1986 г.), incave.org, 12 November 2016. Accessed in 5 February 2022
  2. Turbanov I.S., Demidov P.E., Kolesnikov V.B. , Turbanova A.A. 2018. Preliminary results of investigation of invertebrate animals study in the Veryovkina Cave (The Western Caucasus, Abkhazia), Speleology and Spelestology. Collection of materials of IX International scientific conference. Naberezhnye Chelny: Nizhny Novgorod Pedagogical University Press, pp. 360-368. Accessed in 5 February 2022

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