New-found caves unlock mystery of majestic Son Doong

By Hoang Tao, Van Pham   June 22, 2016 | 05:52 pm GMT+7

In a ‘kingdom of caves’ like Quang Binh, there is no gurantee that even the world’s biggest known cave Son Doong will hold on to its title for long. 57 new cave entrances, a five-million-year-old underwater cave and transparent fish and crustaceans have recently been explored in the area surrounding Son Doong, and may hold the answer to where the water that created the vast cave system originated from.

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The British Cave Research Association (BCRA) announced the surprise result of their eight-day expedition in Quang Binh province today.

Howard Limbert, a British caving expert credited with finding the now famous Son Doong Cave, believes more search in the Vietnamese central province is likely to lead to discovery of even a more beautiful and bigger cave than Son Doong.

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The entrance to Hoa Huong cave

The expedition team found the origin of the water in Son Doong Cave and Phong Nha Cave in a new cave named Hoa Huong, which is said by Limbert to have formed at the bottom of an ancient giant lake five million years ago. The cave measures 2,876 meters long, the longest of all 57 caves surveyed.

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The team surveyed 57 entrances to new caves located by local people in 14 areas lying mostly in Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park. The caves are located on difficult terrain, and some were even untouched by humans and required specialized equipment to access.

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The expeditors learn from the locals to drink water from indigenous trees.

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These caves have been pinpointed using GPS and added to a cave map of Quang Binh.

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Hoa Huong Cave, named after the couples that found it.

Hoa Huong Cave, named after the couple that found it.

Together with new caves, many vertical sinkholes were also found, with one in Km 17 Cave dropping 150 meters deep, the deepest one surveyed this time.

New species of fishes and scorpions with transparent shells and bodies were also discovered during the expedition.

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Since 1990, cave expert Howard Limbert has led 17 expeditions in Quang Binh, mapping 311 caves with a total length of up to 200 kilometers.

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Tien Cave in Minh Hoa District is 2,519 meters long.

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Photos by British Cave Research Association

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