At more than six miles long, the Malham Salt Cave (pictured here) is the longest salt cave in the world. For thirteen years, this title was held by Iran's Cave of the Three Nudes on Qeshm Island. At more than six miles long, the Malham Salt Cave (pictured here) is the longest salt cave in the world. For thirteen years, this title was held by Iran's Cave of the Three Nudes on Qeshm Island. At more than six miles long, the Malham Salt Cave (pictured here) is the longest salt cave in the world. For thirteen years, this title was held by Iran's Cave of the Three Nudes on Qeshm Island. (Photo: Anton Chikishev / Hebrew University)

Amazing photos of the world's longest salt cave

Adventurers from France, Germany and Bulgaria helped uncover and map the cave in Israel.

We're guessing this is a cave that Indiana Jones would want to stay away from.

An international expedition of 80 cave experts from nine countries have just successfully mapped the Malham Salt Cave near the Dead Sea in Israel. At 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), it now bears the title of the world's longest salt cave. The previous record holder was the Cave of the Three Nudes in Iran.

Water from a surface stream flowed underground and dissolved the salt, creating caves – a process that is still going on. In this way, the Malham Salt Cave is 'alive' and continues to grow. Water from a surface stream flowed underground and dissolved the salt, creating caves – a process that is still going on. In this way, the Malham Salt Cave is 'alive' and continues to grow. (Photo: Anton Chikishev / Hebrew University)

Professor Amos Frumkin led a team from Hebrew University's Cave Research Center, Israel Cave Explorers Club, and Bulgaria’s Sofia Speleo Club. “Thirty years ago, when we surveyed Malham, we used tape measures and compasses. Now we have laser technology that beams measurements right to our iPhones,” he recalled.

Added his colleague, Yoav Negev: "The Malham Cave is a one-of-a-kind expedition that demonstrated the power of international caving delegations coming together to achieve something remarkable. The fact that we came away with a new world record is icing on the cake.”

This thin layer of cap rock is made entirely of salt, similar to the kind we use to season our food. This thin layer of cap rock is made entirely of salt, similar to the kind we use to season our food. (Photo: Ruslan Paul / Hebrew University)

Currently, the survey team is processing final data from the new Malham Salt Cave surveys to create an electronic map of the cave and to publish its findings.

“Mapping Malham Cave took hard work," explained Efraim Cohem, a member of the Cave Research Center. "We cavers worked 10-hour days underground, crawling through icy salt channels, narrowly avoiding salt stalactites and jaw-dropping salt crystals. Down there it felt like another planet. Our next and final step is to map the tightest spots and the most difficult ones to reach. When we’re all done, it’s likely we’ll add a few hundred meters to Malham’s impressive 10-kilometer length.”

When it rains, water rushes down cracks in the surface, dissolving salt and creating semi-horizontal channels along the way. After all the rainwater drains out, these dried out 'river beds' remain and salt caves are formed. When it rains, water rushes down cracks in the surface, dissolving salt and creating semi-horizontal channels along the way. After all the rainwater drains out, these dried out 'river beds' remain and salt caves are formed. (Photo: Ruslan Paul / Hebrew University)

Members of the research team included (from left to right): Efraim Cohen, Yoav Negev, Professor Amos Frumkin and Boaz Langford. Members of the research team included (from left to right): Efraim Cohen, Yoav Negev, Professor Amos Frumkin and Boaz Langford. (Photo: Anton Chikishev / Hebrew University)

Carbon-14 tests date the cave as 7,000 years old, give or take, and successive rainstorms created new passages for the cavers to explore. Carbon-14 tests date the cave as 7,000 years old, give or take, and successive rainstorms created new passages for the scientists to explore. (Photo: Ruslan Paul / Hebrew University)

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Amazing photos of the world's longest salt cave
Adventurers from France, Germany and Bulgaria helped uncover and map the cave in Israel.