FAST SPELEO SEARCH
Cave explorers from
Speleological section Velebit with a few other
Croatian clubs discovered
in 2004. a pit inside a mountain Velebit in central
Croatia believed to have the world's deepest subterranean free-fall vertical drop, at nearly
513 m. At the foot of the Velebita cave are small ponds and streams, including one of the
largest known colonies of subterranean leeches. It is located in the Rozanski
kukovi area of the National park North Velebit in the rocky Velebit mountain
range in central Croatia.
Results of expedition Velebita
Climate: During the expedition
in 2004. the cave microclimatic parameters were monitored and some
additional physical measurements were performed in the cave.
The temperature and relative humidity of the cave atmosphere were
measured on 14 locations throughout the cave. Cave air temperatures
ranged from 5.8 oC to 3.2 oC, while RH values
ranged between 70% and 96%. The driest conditions were encountered close
to the entrance, where the air circulation dries the cave passages
below. The maximum wind speed at the entrance was 2.5 m/s. The highest
air temperature was in the entrance chamber. At the entrance of the big
shaft at -100 m, the temperature lowered to 4oC. In the shaft
it was continuously lowered to 3.2 oC at -200 m, and then
raised to 4.7 oC at the bottom of the shaft at -580 m. The
water temperature at the bottom was 3.6 oC.
endemic stygobiontic leach found in the Velebita
pit at -580 m. Photo: D. Paar
The most important biospeleological find:
Numerous troglobitic species were identified in collected material.
Among them the most important are small snails from the genus Zospeum,
terrestrial isopods from the genera Titanethes, Alpioniscus and
Androniscus, millipedes from the genus Haasia, pseudoscorpiones from the
genus Neobisium and numerous springtails and beetles from the genera
Astagobius and Spelaeodromus. The largest colony of endemic troglobitic
leech Croatobranchus mestrovi so far was found in the Velebita Pit, and
one and only specimen of the troglobitic harvestman, probably from the
genus Hadzinia (Bedek & Ozimec, 2004).
Vertical pit named Divka Gromovnica (513 m), photo: D.
Specific features: Velebita
pit had the largest subterranean shaft in the world (P 513)
Cave exploration continued in 2005. and 2007. The result
of the exploration is a new cave depth -1026 m.
The second entrance was found. The Velebita cave system is the third pit
deeper than 1000 m in the National park North Velebit (Croatia).
During the expeditions, physical and chemical
measurements were performed in the pit (water analysis, measurement of
microclimate parameters, natural radioactivity measurements).
The cave exploration
and scientific research is supported by National park North Velebit - project of
speleological and biospeleological explorations of the park, The Speleological Committee of the Croatian Mountaineering Association,
Croatian waters, and private donators.
2007. New cave depth is -1026 m.
Physical and Chemical
Research in Velebita pit (Croatia)
Dalibor Paar, Magdalena Ujević, Darko
Bakšić, Damir Lacković, Ana Čop, Vanja Radolić
Bakšić, D., Paar, D.,
2006: Croatia and the Deep Caves of Northern Velebit. Alpine Karst, vol
2., ed. J. & T. Oliphant, 105-124, Cave books, Dayton, USA.
Kuhta, M., Bakšić, D., 2001: Karstification Dynamics and Development of
the Deep Caves on the North Velebit Mt. – Croatia. 13th Internatinal
Congress of Speleology, 1-4, Brazil.
Lacković, D., Šmida, B., Horvatinčić, N., Tibljaš, D., 1999: Some
geological observations in Slovačka jama cave (-1268 m) in Velebit
mountain, Croatia. Acta carsologica 28/2, 113-120, Ljubljana.
In the cave.
Photo: D. Bakšić
In the 513 m long subterranean shaft.
Photo: D. Bakšić
More about the
exploration of deep caves in Croatia and contact info
Text: Darko Bakšić, Ana Bakšić
and Dalibor Paar
VELEBITA TOPO AND MORPHOLOGY
Name: Cave system Velebita
Location: Rožanski Kukovi – Crikvena, National park North
Entrance at altitude: 1,557 m
Depth: -1026 m
Horizontal length: 1206 m
Length: 3176 m
The largest shaft: 513 m
Cave discovered by: Speleologists from the Speleological section
of the University Mountaineering Association "Velebit" (SOV) on 31 July
Period of exploration: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007., 2008.
Explorers: SO Velebit, SO Dubovac, SO Mosor, HBSD, SO Željezničar, SK Samobor , PK Split, KS HPS
Cave system Velebita (2008.)
Morphology: The entrance to Velebita Cave descends
freely between lodged boulders to the entrance chamber, which is well
lit by daylight. Between the boulders and the compact rock on the floor
there is the Svarog Passage, which leads to an over-hanging shaft of 28
m. The bottom of the shaft is 8 x 4 m in size. It is situated at a depth
of –40.6 m and is covered with chock.
Velebita entrance is
not too big.
In the north-west of the chamber there is a fissure – a half-metre-wide
Stribor's Passage with an occasional air flow.
The channel slopes down over the clay-covered lodged boulders to a depth
of –50 m. At this point there is a passage to the west that ends with a
chimney. A shaft of 25 m continues downwards from a double belay in the
ceiling. The rope in the shaft is slightly away from the ledge in order
to reduce the danger of stones and rubble being pulled down.
From there, the traverse leading to the safest entry point to the next
shaft is placed at a depth of –74.6 m. The reason is an opening in the
floor and the unstable stone blocks. At the end of the traverse, in the
southern part of the main passage there is a large passage to a parallel
meander – Palčić meander, which goes back southwards to the neighbouring
pit of Breskva. The northern branch of the meander, called Malik's Game,
is wider and more indented than Palčić meander. In its northern part it
diverges in two branches, both ending with shafts. One of them descends
to a depth of –110 m and the other to –114 m.
In the main passage, behind the traverse, there is a shaft of 23 m
leading to Perun's meander. From the point at which the boulders are
reached with a rope, a slope leads southwards to the Perun shaft branch.
The shaft measures 38 m. It continues northwards as a tight meander till
it reaches another shaft of 16 m. There is a small chamber at a depth of
–161 m, from which a narrow meander leads up to a point where no further
advance is possible unless the passage is widened.
The meander of Perun is a high and wide crack – a high meander whose
ceiling is out of sight. A narrow meandering fissure is cut in the
floor. After about 10 m of horizontal passage and a 5 m drop, a chamber
with drip-water is reached. From there, a sharp bend turns west and
after another drop of 5 m there is a shaft at a depth of –105 m
connected to the shaft of Divka Gromovnica. This is the lower entrance
to the shaft, 469 m above its bottom. From –105 m to –210 m the Divka
Gromovnica shaft has an elliptic shape, with an average size of 8 x 3 m.
At a depth of –210 m the shaft widens (joins a wider shaft) to a size of
40 x 15 m and continues as such to the bottom.
at -580 m. Photo: D.Bakšić
The bottom part of the Divka Gromovnica shaft ends with a
sloped chamber covered with big boulders. The rope reaches a point at
–574 m and afterwards the floor slopes down westward to the lowest point
at –580 m. In the southern part of the chamber there is a 10 m wide,
shallow drip-water pool, and in the south-eastern part there is a small
shallow drip-water pool with a diameter of 40 m, where about 10 leeches
were found. A few meters from the bottom, on the west wall the air comes
out through a narrow fissure.
In 2005. we placed the ropes in a different way and
managed to enter to the meander 40 m above the old bottom, thus avoiding
150 overhanging wall at the bottom of Divka Gromovnica shaft. We entered
to the meander by traversing the sloping ledge followed by 13 m drop.
Through meander with clay covered bottom one walks in direction south
for 15 meters passing another smaller drop of 5 m. Meander leads to the
entrance to the shaft stretching in direction NE-SW, and the shaft ends
after 93 meters on the ledge covered with stone blocks (Bjesomar’s
ledge). Bjesomar’s ledge closes In NE direction, but it continues in
SW-W direction. One descends for 138 m, passing 4 smaller ledges created
by lodging of stone boulders in vertical meander, to the next larger
ledge (on the depth of -785 m) where it is possible to walk freely. In
the center of pebble covered ledge is a huge stone block. Below it is a
passage where one walks near 10 m high drop. This 10 m high drop is
actually shaft connecting to the main channel from the north side. After
30 m of length the ledge has a knee shape turning first in direction NW,
and then sharply in SW direction. This ledge could be used as a place
for bivouac for next expeditions. The pit narrows from this point on,
and through vertical drops continues through the meander in SW
direction. Here also starts the permanent water flow continuing till the
present bottom of the pit. The first drop is 65 m high and ends at the
ledge with drip-water. On this ledge we widened, by moving the stone
blocks, the passage through the meander leading further in deepness
(precaution should be taken due to the possibility of collapsing
stones). One reaches the bottom on the depth of -941 m (in 2005.) by
passing shafts of 19, 25, 18 i 27 m. The rope is placed to maximally
avoid the water, but in two last shafts one descends through strong
drip-water. It should be mentioned that the weather condition in august
2005 caused higher water level in the pit. The present bottom of the pit
is a chamber named The quest of Potjeh. In the north part of the chamber
there is a narrow meander with new water flow joining the existing flow
that lessens in narrow meander in south part of the chamber. Both
meanders are narrow and should be enlarged in order to pass further.
The passage at -785 m.
The entrance to Dva Javora (Two Maples) Cave is 66
m northwest from the entrance to Velebita Cave. The Cave of Dva Javora
also has a cave entrance 7.3 m below the entrance of Velebita Cave. The
entrance is a vertical crack of 5 x 0.5 m. The cave has a cascading
shape and descends to a depth of –12 m in three short pitches of 2 m, 3
m and 3.5 m. The entry part is the narrowest point between 0.3 and 0.5 m
wide and between 5 and 3 m high. At a depth of 12 m there is a tight
passage to a vertical meander, followed by a shaft of 70 m to Bear
Chamber. At a depth of – 62 m (at – 55 m from the entrance to Dva Javora
Cave), to the west, there is a traverse through the meander (named
Žrek's traverse) to the highest point of Divka Gromovnica shaft (the
total shaft length is 513 m).