Newly Unexplored Cave Discovered In British Columbia

A huge cave was recently discovered in a remote valley in British Columbia's Wells Gray Provincial Park. The cave is the current largest known example of a type of cave called striped karst. This is marble intertwined with other types of ancient ocean rock. The entrance to the cave has been nicknamed Sarlacc's Pit by the helicopter crew who discovered it because of its similarity to the lair of the Sarlacc, a creature from the film Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. 

First discovered in March 2018 by a helicopter crew came across the cavern in the northeastern corner of Wells Gray Provincial Park. It is the largest known cave of its type, it boasts a depth the length of a soccer field.

It’s also extremely deep, extending more than 100 metres underground, with the first 80 metres of that being a straight vertical drop.

Geologist Catherine Hickson, who first went to the cave with a permit in September, says it's a very dangerous cave and anyone who goes there could also damage the unique flora and fauna. 

The cave is in a small sub-valley within a larger valley that she said was likely covered for thousands of years by a glacier.

A large volume of water rushes down into the massive opening, and Hickson said the team believes it flows through the cave and exits as a stream about 2.1 kilometres away.

This could be the first time humans have laid eyes on the cave.

Hickson said the team believes no one has explored it previously, and that it may also be unknown to local First Nations due to the fact that it was likely covered by snow year-round until some point in the last 20-50 years.

Recently, British Columbia's provincial government has locked down the surrounding area of a newly discovered cave, that is thought to be Canada's largest, for the sake of its preservation and also in the interest of public safety. 

An order issued this week says anyone who enters the surrounding area or the cave can be fined up to one-million dollars a day and face imprisonment for up to a year.

The order says the risks to public safety need to be assessed and consultations are needed with the area First Nations before anyone is allowed into the cave. 

The researchers team is also keeping the exact location of the cave under wraps in order to protect it. However, Hickson was very surprised with huge amount of fine for trespassers.


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