Archive for the ‘Miscellany’ Category

World’s Longest Underground River

May 28, 2007

World’s Longest Underground River Discovered in Mexico, Divers Say

John Roach
for National Geographic News

March 5, 2007

Divers exploring a maze of underwater caves on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula have identified what may be the longest underground river in the world.

The waterway twists and turns for 95 miles (153 kilometers) through the region’s limestone caverns, said British diver Stephen Bogaerts, who made the discovery with German colleague Robbie Schmittner.

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In a straight line, the system would span about six miles (ten kilometers) of land. (Related: “Huge Underground ‘Ocean’ Found Beneath Asia” [February 27, 2007].)

Bogaerts and Schmittner spent four years exploring using underwater scooters and specially rigged gas cylinders to find a connection between the Yucatán region’s second and third longest cave systems, known respectively as Sac Actun and Nohoch Nah Chich (Mexico map).

“We expected to have done it by December 2004,” Bogaerts said. “But, unfortunately, we were unable to make the connection in the area we were looking in, so we had to look somewhere else.”

The team scoured the passages, marking each new twist and turn with carefully labeled rope.

On January 23 the pair headed toward the final connection from opposite sides and used an unopened bottle of champagne to make the final tie-off between the two systems.

“It’s a little bit like planting a flag on the moon or the top of [Mt.] Everest,” Bogaerts said.

Explorer’s Paradise

Gene Melton is chair of the Lake City, Florida-based National Speleological Society’s Cave Diving Section. He said the connection caps 20 years of exploration and mapping in the Yucatán’s underground labyrinth.

“[Bogaerts and Schmittner] saw the trending of certain passages going together, and they started making a major effort to explore it,” he said.

Long a popular retreat for beachgoers, the Yucatán Peninsula has become a favorite destination for cave divers, Melton added.

“Just about any time you go you can nearly always go find a new place to explore,” Melton said.

He likens the region to “a huge limestone sponge.”That’s because the peninsula is largely made of limestone, a soft and porous rock that is easily eroded by slightly acidic rainwater, which carves out underground passages as it courses toward the Caribbean Sea.

The pathways range from jumbo-jet-size rooms with long stalagmites and stalactites to narrow slits that divers must blindly squeeze through.

The passages are completely flooded with water that stays a constant 76 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) year-round.

The water itself is layered: A lens of freshwater rests on top of salt water. When fresh rainwater percolates down, the liquid flows out horizontally and is discharged into the ocean.

Divers access the caves through sinkholes called cenotes, which lay scattered throughout the peninsula under the rain forest canopy.

“But the water isn’t just flowing through these underground rivers … 98 percent of the water is actually trapped in the rock,” Bogaerts, the diver, said.

Conservation Call

The Yucatán’s natural hydraulic system sustained the Maya for centuries and today is the main freshwater source for the region’s booming tourism trade.

But the cave diving community is concerned that the rapid pace of development could stress the supply.

“These cave systems are so extensive and so interconnected that if there is a point of pollution in one area then it can quickly get distributed to a very, very wide area,” Bogaerts said. (Related: “Under-Ice Lakes in Antarctica Linked by Buried Channels” [April 19, 2006].)

The explorers hope their discoveries will help bring attention to the caves, which suffer the “out of sight, out of mind” problem.

“We still have a great deal more to do,” Bogaerts said. “There are other cave systems nearby that we are currently trying to connect into this system, and one of the goals of that is to show everybody how interconnected this [underground river system] is.”

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/03/070305-cave-river_2.html

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Blogroll

October 14, 2006

My blogroll hasn’t been imported. It failed and so I have deleted the imported links. I will have to enter them physically, which is not possible these days. So, for my links go to my blogspot blogs:

a sane voice in a mad world

a sane voice: searches and links

in the places where blogspot is blocked, the following links:
alternative link: “a sane voice in a mad world”

alternative link: “a sane voice: searches and links”

A Volcano erupts

July 14, 2006

seen from a plane flying nearby

Do not despair

May 28, 2006

The blogs: muslims-r-us and Day in the life of muslim kidz have most of what I had wanted to collect in this blog of mine. Hence I will not be adding much to my blog, unless I get an inspiration.

Like today, when I was thinking of quiting. I have thought a lot about it, and even quit at times, but I have always been brought back by Allah’s Mercy. This time I thought I should really give up for good, now that I am older and weaker and with even less sight and more impaired hearing. There seems no point in torturing myself with mistakes I make and them worrying about the consequences. But through muslims-r-us I have again been led to:

hidayaonline

where I read this:

The art of beseeching Allah (swt)

Subhanallah, whatever I have been able to do and pass the time in this world has been entirely due to Allah’s Mercy, not due to any capabilities that I had. And yet here I was ready to give up. Rabbighfirlee.

So, back to the grindstone, or rather Allah’s rahmah 🙂

Muslims-R-US and Day in the life of muslim kidz

May 28, 2006

The blogs: muslims-r-us and Day in the life of muslim kidz have most of what I had wanted to collect in this blog of mine. Hence I will not be adding much to my blog, unless I get an inspiration.

Like today, when I was thinking of quiting. I have thought a lot about it, and even quit at times, but I have always been brought back by Allah’s Mercy. This time I thought I should really give up for good, now that I am older and weaker and with even less sight and more impaired hearing. There seems no point in torturing myself with mistakes I make and them worrying about the consequences. But through muslims-r-us I have again been led to:

hidayaonline

where I read this:

The art of beseeching Allah (swt)

Subhanallah, whatever I have been able to do and pass the time in this world has been entirely due to Allah’s Mercy, not due to any capabilities that I had. And yet here I was ready to give up. Rabbighfirlee.

So, back to the grindstone, or rather Allah’s rahmah 🙂