The Dark Star of Baisun-tau: a history of cave exploration in Southern Uzbekistan, 1990–2013

Evgenii A. Tsurikhin, Sebastian F.M. Breitenbach, Vadim L. Loginov, Antonina A. Votintseva

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Abstract

Very little is known about the karst and caves in southern Uzbekistan, where some of the deepest caves in Asia have been discovered. In particular, the limestone plateau of the Baisun-tau mountain range has a tremendous potential for exploration. This region is also important for palaeoclimate studies, as it is situated in the transition zone between the Westerlies and the Indian Summer Monsoon. For more than 15 years Festival’naya Cave, now the Festival’naya–Ledopadnaya cave system, was the main focus of cavers’ attention. Then, in 2011 the great potential of Dark Star Cave was revealed, after extensive new discoveries were made. Since then, additional expeditions with international teams of cavers, led by the Ekaterinburg Speleological Club and with the support of the Speleological Association of the Urals (SAU, Russia), have continued the exploration of these unique high altitude caves of the Baisun-tau. Both the length and depth of Dark Star have been increased almost two-fold every year. So far, six entrances and 9,537m of surveyed passages have been discovered to a depth of −858m, and Dark Star has now become the focus of exploration for expeditions to the area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-41
Number of pages6
JournalCave and Karst Science
Volume41
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes

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