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Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 11 Jul, 2012
Hello everyone!   I pleased to invite you to the official site of Central Asian Karstic-Speleological commission ("Kaspeko")   There, we regularly publish reports about our expeditions, articles and reports on speleotopics, lecture course for instructors, photos etc. ...

New publications on hypogene speleogenesis

Klimchouk on 26 Mar, 2012
Dear Colleagues, This is to draw your attention to several recent publications added to KarstBase, relevant to hypogenic karst/speleogenesis: Corrosion of limestone tablets in sulfidic ground-water: measurements and speleogenetic implications Galdenzi,

The deepest terrestrial animal

Klimchouk on 23 Feb, 2012
A recent publication of Spanish researchers describes the biology of Krubera Cave, including the deepest terrestrial animal ever found: Jordana, Rafael; Baquero, Enrique; Reboleira, Sofía and Sendra, Alberto. ...

Caves - landscapes without light

akop on 05 Feb, 2012
Exhibition dedicated to caves is taking place in the Vienna Natural History Museum   The exhibition at the Natural History Museum presents the surprising variety of caves and cave formations such as stalactites and various crystals. ...

Did you know?

That calc- is prefix meaning limy; containing calcium carbonate [10].?

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Exploration Spotlight. This page presents the latest discoveries and achievements in the areas of Karst and Cave Research as well as Sport Caving. The underground world is last black spot on the map of the Earth and these are the latest news from there:

Close Vladimir Iljukhin Cave System: breakthrough behind the fourth siphon

Vladimir Iljukhin Cave System: breakthrough behind the fourth siphon

Vladimir Iljukhin Cave System: breakthrough behind the fourth siphon
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Vladimir Iljukhin Cave System: breakthrough behind the fourth siphon

Arabika Massif, Western Caucasus

Caving Club "Sokol'niki-RUDN", Moscow, Russia

During the 2005 summer expedition to the Vladimir Iljukhin Cave System (Arabika Massif, Western Caucasus) a noticeable result was achieved: a successful dive through the fourth siphon at 1240m, the first attempt since 1989 when the siphon was reached and tested for the first time, resulted in the discovery of a post-siphon continuation. 


Vladimir Ilyukhin Cave System (named after V.Iljukhin, the founder of the Russian caving), discovered in 1980, belongs to one of the deepest karst hydrological systems in the world. It's main entrance is located in the center of the Arabika Massif at 2,400 m above see level. The cave is hydrologically connected (proven by a dye test) with the Reproa Spring, which emerges at the Black See shore at 1 m a.s.l. The temperature in the cave varies from 0 to 4 Centigrade. The cave is a complex system of alternating cascades of vertical pitches (with single drops up to 110 m deep) and inclined passages, totalling at more than 6km in length. Numerous cave streams in minor meanders confluence at various depths to form a bigger stream in the main branch.  Since 1989 the explored depth of the cave was 1240m.  Its exploration was severely complicated by the presence of a series of siphons in the deep part of the main branch.

Known are 4 siphons. The first sump (50m long/10m deep) occurs on the cave river at the depth of 950m, but inside the sump the river goes aside, so that a diver comes up in a standing pool. A 200m-long sub-horizontal "dry" gallery goes to a pool of the second perched sump (55m/-15m). Behind the second sump there is a steep, nearly vertical cascade of drops (10 to 30 m high), which adds about 240m to the cave depth. At the base of this cascade the cave river reappears from a slot-like passage and forms the third siphon (65m/-14m) at 1220m. A short clay-covered gallery follows, ending by the fourth siphon lake. Parameters of the 4-th siphons were estimated as >100m/-15m in 1989 during the last diving attempt performed by a noted Russian caver Vladimir Kisseljov (1953-1995). He did not reach the end of the siphon at that time.


The detailed history of discovery and of the first years of exploration of the Vladimir Ilyukhin Cave Sysytem is given in details in the recently published book of Alexander P. Yefremov: Way down is blocked by siphons, Moscow: RUDN Publ., 2005, 560 pp. (in Russian).

In 1987, after the fourth siphon was discovered in the cave, the Caving Club Sokolniki-RUDN started setting necessary infrastructure in the cave and training a team for further systematic and safer explorations. Three warm underground camps were built at depths of -600, -800 and -950 meters, the last one (near the 1-st sump) on aluminium platform 8m above the river level (to escape floods). A double-wire telephone line was put along the cave from the surface base camp down to the first sump. Reliable SRT rigging had been set and since renewed annually. Thirteen caving schools were organized, with more than 120 graduates. A team of cave divers started training since 1998, diving in deep lakes, cave siphons of Crimea, Urals and Caucasus. Training dives into the 1-t and 2-d siphons of the Iljukhin Cave System started in 2001.

Main result of the recent expedition to the Vladimir Ilyukhin Cave System, August 2005

Supported by 22-member team, three cave-divers, Alexei Aksyonov (aged 29), Nikolai Ivanov (31), Vitaly Storchilov (25), crossed the first siphon on August 8 and carried 28 bags through it (~300 kg during seven back-and-forth dives). On August 9 the team passed through the second siphon with 18 bags (~200 kg, nine back-and-forth dives). They set up a new stationary camp behind the second siphon, where they spent 8 nights. Between this camp and the surface base camp a reliable double-wire telephone connection was established. During the period of August 9-17 the cave divers succeeded to set rigging upon the series of pitches between the second and third siphons (~250m), surveyed this section and launched assault on the next siphons.

On August 13 Alexei Aksyonov and Nikolaj Ivanov went through the third siphon and for the first time managed to successfully dive through the fourth siphon (150m/-20m). In the forth siphon they tried to keep closer to the celling (depth in water ~15m). At the mark of ~80m the underwater tunnel turned sharply; supposedly this was the point where Vladimir Kisseljov turned back 16 years ago. Behind the forth siphon a drop of ~30m with a waterfall stopped the divers as they had no vertical equipment with them at that moment. The bedrocks in this part of the cave changed from limestone to sandy limestone; quartz sand in mass was noticed in the bed of the cave river. On August 16 Aksyonov and Ivanov passed the third and forth siphons for the second time, set rigging upon newly found pitch (27 m), went down and explored about 100 m of a new gallery. They reached a boulder choke and, being dressed in dry suits, they decided not to take risks damaging them in rock-climbing and squeezing. So, the exploration stopped there this time. The divers affirm that the cave definitely continues behind the boulder choke: the river noise can be loudly heard. After exploring the post-siphon part, the two cave divers returned back to the camp where the third teammate, Vitaly Storchilov, was supporting continuous telephone communication with the base camp. On August 18 the cavers went back through the second and first siphons carrying back with them 18 empty air bottles (volume 7-liter, maximum pressure 300 Atm). Next evening (19 August 2005) the team came safely up to the base camp.

The new depth of the Iljukhin Cave System has reached 1273m. In coming yeas the club plans to settle an underground camp for 2-4 cave divers behind the 4-th sump and to continue exploring the cave.


The Club and participants of the expedition Arabika-2005 wish to thank  the People's Friendship University of Russia (RUDN) and the Institute of Foreign Languages of RUDN for their support.

Alexander P. Yefremov,
Expedition leader,
President of Caving Club Sokolniki-RUDN,
First Vice-Rector of the People's Friendship University of Russia

Address: Russia 117198 Moscow, Miklukho-Maklaya str., 6
Telephone: +7-095-434-6682
E-mail:  a.yefremov@rudn.ru
Websites:  www.rudn.ru
www.sokolniki-rudn.org (Russian)