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World's Longest Salt Cave Discovered Near The Dead Sea In Israel

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The Malham Cave in Israel has surpassed the previous record holder for the longest salt cave that is the Namakdan Cave in Iran. Radiocarbon dating reveals that the record holding cave is actually quite young at just 7,000 years old.

Longest Salt Cave In The World

After a mapping expedition by a team of international experts from Israel, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, France, Croatia, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Germany, the Malham Cave in Israel is now considered the longest salt cave in the world at over 6 miles (10 kilometers). It took the team of 80 volunteers two years and 1,500 work hours to map the cave, and even then they say that there are still parts of the cave that have yet to be surveyed because they are very hard to reach.

Officially, there is no record for the longest salt cave, but instead, the designation is decided by a consensus among cave researchers after a salt cave is thoroughly mapped and published. The previous record for the longest salt cave at 4.1 miles was held by Namakdan Cave or the Cave of the Three Nudes in Iran for the last 13 years.

The 10-kilometer (6-mile) Malham Cave is under Mount Sodom, at the southwestern tip of the Dead Sea. Its main outlet stands not far from the salt pillar dubbed “Lot’s Wife” after the Biblical character who was turned into a pillar of salt after looking back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Salt Caves

Salt caves are rather rare and unique features because salt is very water soluble, so the large salt deposits do not typically last long on the surface. Often, such salt caves only occur in arid regions such as the Dead Sea, which is at the lowest point on Earth, and is so salty that it cannot support animal life.

According to the explorers, the reason why the Malham Cave is quite young is because it is a salt cave. Unlike limestone caves that take longer to form, salt caves develop fast. In fact, the Malham cave is said to be one of the youngest caves in the world.

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