Explorers Discover World’s Largest Underwater Cavern System in Mexico
Divers have found the world's largest underwater cave system in Mexico after years of diving and exploration.
| Published: January 19, 2018 3:36 PM IST
Published: January 19, 2018 3:36 PM IST | Updated: January 19, 2018 3:36 PM IST
In a recent exploration, divers have found a connection between two underwater caves in the Yucatan peninsula making it the largest flooded cavern on earth. Stretching 215 miles, the long underground cave is full of pre-Hispanic archaeological sites from the ancient Maya. Not just that – several unknown plant and animal species were also found here. “This immense cave represents the most important submerged archaeological site in the world, as it has more than a hundred archaeological contexts. Along this system, we had documented evidence of the first settlers of America, as well as extinct fauna and, of course, Maya culture,” said Guillermo de Anda, director of the project, according to a translated press release. This makes the site extremely intriguing especially for geology and history enthusiasts.
The discovery was reported by the good folks at National Geographic. Explorers had been diving and researching the area for over 20 years. Reuters reported that the divers began a new phase of exploring the Sac Actun system and were looking for its connection with another system known as Dos Ojos last March. They mapped several new tunnels and underground lakes, known as cenotes and after months of exploration, they finally found a subsurface connection near the city of Tulum. This new cave system now takes over the 168-mile Ox Bel Ha system which was the former largest underwater cavern. These two large systems along with Koal Baal and Dos Ojos systems form the Great Maya Aquifer.
The region is quite popular in the field of geology as it is home to several underground caverns. There is still much to explore and learn about the ancient Maya culture and their caves. The Great Maya Aquifer Project has been doing some path breaking work in this department. In the past, researchers have found that caves in the ancient Maya region were pilgrim sites and also common places to perform sacrificial rituals. One of the most striking caverns here, called the Midnight Terror Cave in Belize contains almost 10,000 bones of children under the age of 14. It is believed that they were sacrificed to Chaac, the god of rain, lightning and water.
Original Story: Smithsonian.com