caves

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Photography

Massive Ice Formations Crystalize in Incredible Photographs by Paxson Woelber

February 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Paxson Woelber, shared with permission

Anchorage-based creative Paxson Woelber has captured stunning photographs that illuminate the massive ice formations he recently stumbled upon in an Alaskan cave. Part of Castner Glacier in the Eastern Alaska Range, the expansive chamber is replete with glimmering crystals that jut down from the ceiling in some areas and coat the walls in others.

Woelber shares with Colossal that he visited during a deep freeze that saw temperatures below -30 degrees Fahrenheit, and discovered that the cave was formed by a stream that opened near the back. Geothermal heat warms the interior, causing the higher temperature of the inside to meet the drier, cold air from the outside near the cave’s mouth. This interaction causes moisture in the air to condense, creating the giant formations.

The artist described the experience as feeling as if he were exploring the inner portions of an asteroid. “Near the mouth of the cave, branching tree-like crystals hung down over a foot from the roof of the cave,” he says. “Toward the back, the crystals were smaller and more tightly-packed, like the crystals on the inside of a huge geode.” Head to Woelber’s Instagram to check out footage from his visit.

 

 



Art History

Researchers Unearth World's Oldest Figurative Artwork in Indonesian Cave

December 13, 2019

Grace Ebert

A recent finding in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is changing our conceptions of the origins of visual art. Fifteen researchers this week published an article in Nature describing prehistoric cave art that they believe was created about 43,900 years ago. The art depicts multiple therianthropes—mythical creatures that have both human and animal characteristics like beaks and tails—hunting wild pigs and cattle with spears. Traditionally, therianthropes were employed for sharing folklore, religious myths, and spiritual beliefs. Clear renderings of the creatures are uncommon, the report says. The oldest depiction previously recorded is a carved figurine with the head of a cat that originated in Germany and dates back nearly 40,000 years. These Indonesian findings also predate the Lascaux cave paintings found in France by about 20,000 years. “This hunting scene is—to our knowledge—currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world,” the report said. (via Artnet)

 

 



Design

A Geological Landmark's Phosphorescent Glow Inspires the National Museum of Qatar's Cavernous Gift Shop

April 25, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Patches of natural and artificial light highlight the curved layers of the National Museum of Qatar’s recently completed gift shop. The massive undulating walls were constructed from over 40,000 pieces of timber that tower high above visitors’ heads and imitate the shape and feeling of the Dahl Al Misfir or Cave of Light. The Qatar landmark is an underground formation that contains a wealth of gypsum deposits, which illuminate the cave with a phosphorescent glow and often form clusters of rose-shaped crystals known as “desert roses.”

Koichi Takada Architects wanted to connect visitors to the museum back to Qatari desert landscapes, while also creating a natural extension of the “Desert Rose” concept created for the museum by French architect Jean Nouvel. In addition to the museum shop, the architects also designed its restaurants, including the Desert Rose Cafe, Cafe 875, and Jiwan Restaurant. You can see more of the firm’s previous projects on their website and Instagram, and take a look at the museum’s exterior here. (via designboom)

 

 



Photography

A Trip by Air and Kayak Through Tham Khoun Xe, One of the Largest Active River Caves on Earth

February 10, 2016

Christopher Jobson

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All photos © Ryan Deboodt Photography

Beijing-based photographer Ryan Deboodt (previously) recently returned from a trip to Laos where he spent two days exploring Tham Khoun Xe, one of the largest active river caves in the world. Stretching nearly 4.5 miles (7km) underground, the cave system is extraordinarily remote and Deboodt was permitted to photograph and film beyond where tourists are normally allowed to visit. The immensity of the subterranean space is staggering, with an average ceiling of almost 200 feet (60m) and width of 250 feet (76m) it’s hardly imaginable a space like this could exist underground.

Deboodt brought an arsenal of camera and video equipment as well as a drone to capture the expansive interiors of Tham Khoun Xe, much of which he edited into a short video included below. You can follow more of his cave photography from around the world on Facebook or Instagram, and read an interview about the endeavor on Smithsonian.

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Photography Science

Long-Exposure Photographs of a New Zealand Cave Illuminated by Glowing Worms

June 28, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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The twinkling lights dotting the ceiling of this dazzling cave system are the work of arachnocampa luminosa, a bioluminescent gnat larva (also called a glowworm) found throughout the island nation of New Zealand. It is believed that the light, emitted mostly from females, is how the insects find mates. These long-exposure photos by local photographer Joseph Michael capture small communities of worms amongst 30 million-year-old limestone formations on North Island. You can see more shots from the project titled Luminosity, here.

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Amazing

An Aerial Tour of 'Hang Son Soong,' the Largest Cave on Earth

March 13, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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In this new 6-minute film, cave, adventure, and travel photographer Ryan Deboodt takes us on a breathtaking aerial tour of the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong, located in central Vietnam. Deboodt brought a drone and an array of cameras to help capture the cave system, the largest chamber of which is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long, 200 meters (660 ft) high and 150 meters (490 ft) wide. Despite its enormity, the cave was only discovered in 1991 by a local man, and it wasn’t even studied by scientists until about five years ago. One of the most disorienting thing about watching Deboodt’s film was my brain not comprehending the scale of what I was looking at. It’s only once you notice the ant-like people walking through some of the shots that you realize just how massive this place is. You can see more of Deboodt’s cave photography on Instagram. (via PetaPixel)