Scientists Represented The First Atlas Of Russian Caves

Фото: Даниил Ли
Фото: Даниил Ли

A team of Russian speleologists, with grant support from the Russian Geographical Society, created the first atlas of Russian caves . It contains information about the most interesting caves in our country. The atlas covered many regions from Crimea to Kamchatka.

“The Atlas of Russian Caves” includes detailed descriptions of 176 caves, including solution, lava, glacier, gravitational, sea caves, and others. The book also contains a list of the 442 largest caves (longer than 500 m and deeper than 100 m). The publication contains 950 photographs, 168 topographical images, more than 30 tables, and 60 maps and charts. The atlas provides interesting information about ecology, mineralogy, glaciology, archeology, paleontology, biology and the origin of caves, the history of their discovery and research.


Экспедиция в пещеру Таврида 2018 года. Фото предоставлено Отделением РГО в Республике Крым
Экспедиция в пещеру Таврида 2018 года. Фото предоставлено Отделением РГО в Республике Крым

According to one of the compilers of the atlas, an employee of Lomonosov Moscow State University, Alexander Gusev, the publication, in particular, includes caves, which are very valuable in terms of geology, chemistry and many other sciences. In some of these caves, scientists have made major archaeological and paleontological discoveries. The most famous of them is Denisova Cave in Altai. It was in this cave where, in 2008, for the first time, the remains of the Denisovans were found - a special branch in the evolution of the genus Homo.

No less interesting for scientists was the Taurida Cave, discovered in 2017 during the construction of the eponymous road from Simferopol to Sevastopol. It turned out to be absolutely untouched by man, and its depths  are of great interest to paleontologists. It is planned that after the end of the scientific expedition, the cave will be converted into a tourist complex.

In addition to the Russian ones, the atlas also includes the four deepest caves in the world, which are located in Abkhazia. These caves have been studied by domestic speleologists.

"This book is actually an encyclopedia of modern knowledge about the caves of Russia and the processes taking place in them. It has no analogues among speleological literature published earlier in Russia and the USSR, and has practically no analogues in the world," said Alexander Gusev.


Фото предоставлено Отделением РГО в Республике Крым
Фото предоставлено Отделением РГО в Республике Крым

Chairman of the Russian Union of Speleologists, Gennady Samokhin, believes that the atlas will be primarily interesting for scientists: karstologists, speleologists. But the publication will also help those who want to go in for speleotourism. "Having learned that they have a beautiful cave in the region, someone will want to organize scientific and tourist excursions, show the cave to schoolchildren and students," said Gennady Samokhin.

The first edition of the atlas was 500 copies. This is not a commercial publication; only authors and libraries will receive the book. Perhaps in the future the atlas will be republished taking into account new information about the caves - in particular, the Taurida Cave, and will also be translated into English.

It should be noted, that the publication of the atlas was preceded by the creation of the information-search system "Caves" - the most comprehensive database of caves in Russia and neighboring countries, studied over the past century. The initiator of the creation of the atlas and cadastre of caves in 2017 was the president of the Russian Geographical Society, Sergey Shoigu.

Did you know…

  • The deepest caves in our country are in the North Caucasus. The deepest cave is 900-meter Barlog's Throat, discovered in 1994 in Karachay-Cherkessia. It got its name in honor of one of the characters in the famous novel “The Lord of the Rings”.
  • The longest caves of Russia are in Siberia. The length of the Botovskaya Cave, located in the Irkutsk Region, is about 70 km. The second longest cave is Bolshaya Oreshnaya in the Krasnoyarsk Territory (47 km).
  • The underwater Orda cave in the Perm Territory is very popular among divers, the length of its underwater part is 4.5 km.