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Have caves, will explore - Scientists join expedition team in Meghalaya

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By Andrew W. Lyngdoh
  • Published 27.03.15

The cave passage

Shillong, March 26: A caving expedition in Meghalaya's Jaintia hills has explored and mapped more than 15km of new cave passage.

During the 2015 Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Expedition held from February 2 to 26, two known caves were extended and eight new caves located of which six were fully explored and mapped.

The expedition returned to the Jaintia hills to continue exploration in the Umkrypong area and undertake new exploration in the Lakadong area in East Jaintia Hills as an ongoing development of exploration in the area (Lakadong/Umlatdoh) in 2014.

This year, the expedition team comprised 32 cavers from Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, the US, the UK and members of the Meghalaya Adventurers' Association.

Five associated scientists from India, Switzerland and the UK, who conducted ongoing bio-speleological studies of the areas also accompanied the team.

The general secretary of the association, Brian D. Kharpran Daly, said the 25-day exploration period in the Jaintia hills was divided into two phases, the first being a week (February 2-8) in the Umkrypong area where two known caves were extended and eight new ones located. Of these eight new caves, six were fully explored and mapped.

In the second phase, from February 9 to 26, the expedition focused on exploration in East Jaintia Hills in the Lakadong area in which some preliminary reconnaissance and exploration had been undertaken in 2014. Here, Daly said four existing and partially explored caves and 35 new caves were explored and mapped.

He said overall the 2015 expedition explored and mapped 15.3km of new cave passage. In January 2015, the expedition team visited Mawlangbna near Mawsynram in East Khasi Hills, where the resurgence cave of Krem Pamskei was explored for 450 metres, and is an ongoing project.

Daly said one of the main achievements of the expedition team in South Jaintia Hills in the Lakadong area included the expedition undertaken at Krem Muhabon.

In 2014, an initial exploration of Krem Muhabon was undertaken, and the exploration of the cave's length was extended from 102 metres to 1,248 metres. "Till date (March 2015), the whereabouts of over 1,580 caves and cave locations are known in Meghalaya. Of these, 970 have been explored or partially explored to yield in excess of 427km of surveyed cave passage, with much more still waiting to be discovered," Daly said.

He also said many caves which have been explored and mapped in Meghalaya over the last 23 years, consist of river-cave mixed with massive and often richly-decorated relic passage along with magnificent clean-washed shafts. These features, Daly said, create cave systems equal in size and beauty to those found elsewhere in the world.