A team of three divers have chanced upon ground-breaking new information regarding the world’s largest cave. Son Doong in Vietnam, the world’s largest cave, has been discovered to be much bigger than previous reports. It is located in the heart of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam

Three divers who set out on the expedition last month discovered a new underwater tunnel within the cave, reports CNN. Incidentally, the same trio was responsible in helping rescue the trapped soccer team in Thailand in 2018.

Campsite in the Hang En cave
A campsite in the Hang En cave; Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park

This previously undiscovered underwater tunnel connects Son Doong (meaning Mountain River Cave) with another massive cave called Hang Thung. Prior to this discovery, the Son Doong cave measured a total of 38.5 million cubic meters; about 1.35 billion cubic feet. However, once it is officially connected to Hang Thung through this newly identified tunnel, it will add an additional 1.6 million cubic meters in volume.

How The Expedition To The World’s Largest Cave Came Together

Howard Limbert, technical advisor of the Quang Binh-based Oxalis adventure tour company and one of the cave experts who helped organize the dive, revealed, “It would be like someone found a lump on top of Mount Everest; making it another 1,000 meters higher”. Explaining the magnitude of this discovery, he continued, “Any cave in the world will be able to fit comfortably inside Song Dong when it’s connected — it’s just outrageous in size.”

During the course of the mission, divers reached a depth of 78 meters while diving on air (oxygen and nitrogen) before they turned around. The team was in for a surprise because they weren’t expecting the tunnels to be so deep.

Son Doong Cave World’s Largest Cave
(Source: Doug Knuth / Wikimedia Commons)

Oxalis is the only company licensed to bring travellers into Son Doong Cave. Following the Thai rescue expedition, they invited the British divers — Jason Mallinson, Rick Stanton and Chris Jewell — to visit the cave. Limbert said, “The divers did an amazing job rescuing the children in Thailand. We invited them on a trip to Son Doong to thank them for their great effort. They wanted to do something interesting during the trip, so we came up with this idea of diving Son Doong, which had never been done before.”

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The divers are set to return to explore the caves in April next year. The water levels around this time of year are relatively low which increases visibility. Limbert added, “I think it’s incredible that something as important as the world’s largest cave is still being explored and better understood. No one had ever set foot inside Son Doong until 2009; and this latest discovery shows there are still an awful lot of things to uncover on this planet. It’s really exciting.”

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