Scientists have discovered a cave that may be the largest in Canada, and it's never been seen by humans before
- Members of a Canadian caribou count exploration in April spotted a massive cave in British Columbia.
- A geologist, an archaeological surveyor, and a caver traveled to the enormous pit in September for a survey of the area.
- The researchers said the cave is "truly immense" and could be the largest in Canada.
- It is unlikely that anyone has previously explored the cave, which is roughly 330 feet long by 200 feet wide.
Canadian researchers have discovered a massive, previously unexplored cave of "national significance" in British Columbia.
The cave was first spotted during a caribou count in April, and researchers traveled to Wells Gray Provincial Park in September for an initial exploration. The cave is in the northern part of the park, but the team would not specify an exact location, according to Canadian Geographic.Archaeological surveyor John Pollack, who is part of the team, told Canadian Geographic that the opening is roughly 330 feet long by 200 feet wide. A person looking from the cave's edge down could see nearly 600 feet below.
Pollack, who has visited some of the largest caves on the planet, said the most recent discovery is "truly immense," even compared to caves in other countries.
"You don't get lines of sight of 600 feet in Canadian caves - it just doesn't happen," he told Canadian Geographic. "And this is a shaft. It goes down quite precipitously, it had a large amount of water flowing into it and is wide open for as far down it that we've gone. The scale of this thing is just huge, and about as big as they come in Canada."
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During the September trip, Pollack used a laser instrument to survey the pit, while geologist Catherine Hickson examined the area's geology. Caver Lee Hollis tied ropes to the side of a 200-foot waterfall that goes into the pit before descending into it.
"This is by far the largest and most impressive entrance pit I've ever encountered, and during my brief descent it showed no signs of closing down," Hollis, has been caving for more than 30 years, told Canadian Geographic.Pollack said the cave's depth makes it very unlikely that people have explored it before. A descent would require long ropes, he said, and any efforts in the past 50 years would likely have been documented.
Local First Nations may have also been unaware of the cave, Hickson told Global News, because the cave was likely covered by snow all year until sometime in the past two to five decades.
The cave's exact size and depth have not been determined yet, but Pollack said researchers are in talks with British Columbia Parks about a field study in 2020.
Tristan Crosby, director of the University of Victoria Caving Club, told Global News that the discovery has "fired up" other caving enthusiasts.
"To be able to find caves like that still in this day and age that haven't been explored and haven't been discovered, it really gives me - and I know a lot of others in the community - some excitement to keep on exploring," Crosby said.