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Namakdan Cave

Qeshm Island, Iran

In Farsi, the word “Namak” means salt. Or Sodium Chloride, as ordinary kitchen salt is known among chemists. And it is salt, or namak, that Namakdan Mountain on Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf is made of.

Nine years ago the Czechs were the first to venture further into the caves than the entrance. They discovered a complex system of caverns and tunnels and have been returning ever since.

The 3N Cave and related Upper Entrance Cave are developed in the SE part of Namakdan Salt Diapir in western part of Qeshm Island (Fig.1).
The 3N Cave consists of one large meandering passage opened by entrance (8 by 2 m) in the western wall of outlet valley (Fig.2).

This lower entrance is partly filled by brine. Another large lake, 300 m long and up to one metre deep was developed at 160 m from the entrance behind small collapse dam between 1999-2004. The lake was dry in spring 2005, as well as this year, as the dam had been washed out by flood.

Abundant curved stalagmites were typical, hanging above the lakes. At about 700 m from the entrance, the “Hangar” hall is developed (35 by 20 by 16 m). Behind this point, the passage width decreases from 10 – 15 m to only 6 m. One kilometre from the entrance, several domes (up to 40 by 20 by 15 m in size) created by ceiling break down occur. Around that place, there are three shafts connecting the cave with the surface; all about 40 m high.

These can be used as an alternative entrance to the cave, but there is a trouble with anchoring, as the salt is fragile and corrosive and the unstable sediments on the surface under the cave give only small possibility for making stabilization points for the ropes.

Upstream to the shafts the draught dies out and the character of the passage changes. The arched spaces modelled by breakdown that occur below the shafts turns into a very wide spaces with almost flat ceiling without any traces of collapsing.

The first harder crawlway “Bend” is about 150 m long. The passage becomes larger and larger further on. On the right side, there is a permanent shower of brine called “Waterfall”.

This 10 m high vertical chimney was climbed in 2006 using an aluminium ladder. 170 m long minor meandering passage was mapped in the upper level. The passage continues, but the spaces are very narrow and frequent fractures and fallen blocks from the ceiling indicate increased danger of collapsing.

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