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Now THAT’S down under! Explorers discover Australia’s deepest known cave 

Explorers have discovered the deepest known cave in Australia – and named after a variant of the Covid virus.

Called the Delta variant, the cave reaches a height of 401 meters in the Junee Florentine Karst region of Tasmania, Australia’s southern island.

Delta Variant is only slightly deeper than Australia’s previous record holder, the Niggly Cave, which is 397 meters deep and is located in the same cave system.

However, they cannot be compared to the deepest known cave in the world – the Veryovkina Cave in Abkhazia, Georgia, which reaches 2,257 feet (2,212 meters).

An elite team of nine cavers from the Southern Tasmanian Caverneers set a new record for the deepest cave in Australia in Tasmania's Niggly and Growling Swalet cave system

An elite team of nine cavers from the Southern Tasmanian Caverneers set a new record for the deepest cave in Australia in Tasmania’s Niggly and Growling Swalet cave system

Delta Variant is only slightly deeper than Australia's previous record holder, the Niggly Cave, which is 397 meters deep and is located in the same cave system

Delta Variant is only slightly deeper than Australia’s previous record holder, the Niggly Cave, which is 397 meters deep and is located in the same cave system

HOW DO CAVES FORM?

Caverns form when flowing water slowly dissolves rock over a long period of time, explains Gabriel C Rau, a lecturer at Newcastle University in New South Wales, Australia.

In particular, they form within certain geological formations called “karst” – including structures made of limestone, marble and dolomite.

“Karst is made of tiny fossilized microorganisms, shell fragments and other detritus that have accumulated over millions of years,” he said.

‘Long after they perish, small sea creatures leave behind their ‘calcareous’ shells of calcium carbonate.

‘This calcareous sediment builds up into geological structures that are relatively soft. As water trickles down through fissures in the rock, it constantly dissolves the rock to slowly form a cave system.”

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The so-called Delta Variant is connected to the Niggly and Growling Swalet cave system of Tasmania, northwest of Hobart, the capital of Tasmania.

At 1,315 feet, it’s the equivalent of three Sydney Harbor Bridges or four of London’s Elizabeth Towers stacked up.

An elite team of cavers from the South Tasmanian Caverneers discovered the cave after 14 hours underground and six months of preparation.

The team entered the cave last Saturday (July 30) around 11 a.m. local time and re-emerged around 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

“I was absolutely nervous, you feel your own mortality,” said team member Ciara Smart.

“Although you know you’re safe, it’s very intimidating and so is the noise – it’s a constant roar from the waterfall. You don’t hear anything above your own breath, it’s scary sometimes.’

According to the explorers, the cave was named after a Covid variant “to remind future cavers of contemporary events.”

Parts of the cave are even named after various Covid-related terminology, including “Test Station Queue,” “Super Spreader,” and “Daily Cases,” the ABC reports.

The explorers faced challenging conditions underground, in part due to high water levels resulting from recent snowfall in the Australian winter.

“The cave was extremely strenuous,” said speleologist Ben Armstrong.

'A tiring expedition': The explorers celebrate as they reach the bottom of the Delta Variant, Australia's deepest known cave

‘A tiring expedition’: the explorers celebrate as they reach the bottom of the Delta Variant, Australia’s deepest known cave

The explorers faced challenging conditions underground, in part due to high water levels resulting from recent snowfall in the Australian winter

The explorers faced challenging conditions underground, in part due to high water levels resulting from recent snowfall in the Australian winter

‘It was extremely vertical, climbing and descending hundreds of meters on ropes.’

The cave is meters away from the entrance to the Niggly and Growling Swalet cave system.

It includes Niggly Cave, discovered in 1994, which was previously the deepest known cave in the country.

Gabriel C Rau, a lecturer at Newcastle University’s School of Environmental and Life Sciences, said the Delta Variant is just an “entry to the wider world of caves.”

“I’m sure there are small spaces, too small for us to explore, that open up into much longer or larger systems than we’ve ever discovered,” he wrote. The conversation.

Pictured, a cave explorer in Tasmania's Niggly Cave, Australia's previous record cave for depth

Pictured, a cave explorer in Tasmania’s Niggly Cave, Australia’s previous record cave for depth

CAVER CLOSED SUBSTRATE IS SAVED ALIVE AFTER THREE DAY MISSION

A seriously injured caver who was stranded in a 900-foot-deep cave system beneath the Brecon Beacons after falling off a 50-foot ledge was dramatically rescued last November.

The man in his forties was taken from the caves in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu by a team of rescuers.

About 250 workers, working in 12-hour shifts, brought the man out of the cave system on a stretcher.

After being lifted to the surface, he was clapped and cheered by rescuers before being helped into a cave to rescue Land Rover, ready to be transported to a waiting ambulance.

The operation, which lasted 57 hours and three days, was the longest of its kind performed in Wales.

Nearly 250 rescuers – including the team that rescued 12 young Thai footballers in 2018 – painstakingly transported the injured man on a stretcher through narrow caves interspersed with gushing streams and waterfalls.

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