Researchers Find the World’s Longest Salt Cave

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. cavern / ˈkævɚn / (n) – a typically large cave, mostly found underground

    Explorers found a lot of bats inside the cavern.

  2. dissolve / dɪˈzɑːlv / (v) – to mix solid with liquid, causing the solid material to break down and be absorbed by the liquid

    I accidentally dissolved two more spoons of sugar in my tea, and now I find it too sweet to drink.

  3. resistant / rɪˈzɪstənt / (adj) – unaffected by something

    This stone is resistant to heat.

  4. arid / ˈerəd / (adj) – extremely dry; lacking rainfall

    The arid land hinders the growth of plants.

  5. uncharted / ˌʌnˈtʃɑɚtəd / (adj) – unrecorded on a map or a chart

    The researchers were excited to explore more of the island’s uncharted territory.


Read the text below.

The world’s longest salt cave is found in Israel, research claims.

A research led by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that the Malham Cave is the longest salt cave in the world. The cave, which extends 6.2 miles underground, is located under Mount Sodom in Israel and lies southwest of the Dead Sea.

Salt caves are made of salt and are usually only half a mile long. These rare geological formations also only exist in dry areas that barely experience rainfall.

The mapping of the cavern was completed after 38 years through the efforts of an international research team. The team measured the inner parts of the cave for 10 hours a day, studying salt tunnels and crystals. The researchers used traditional tools, such as tape measures and compasses, to survey the cave until technologically advanced measuring devices became available.

The team expects the Malham Cave to extend in length and retain its shape over time. Rain can dissolve salt and produce new pathways once the water dries out, extending the cave’s length. In addition, the cave can be preserved with the help of its cap rock—a stronger, resistant type of rock covering the cave. The cap rock will protect the salt from melting against the arid heat of the desert.

Currently, the research team is processing data on the Malham Cave to publish their findings and to produce an electronic map of the cave. Although the study is completed, the team continues to survey the cave’s undiscovered parts. Most of these uncharted parts are the cave’s upper levels, which are more challenging to measure.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, should the researchers publish their current findings while still exploring undiscovered parts of the cave? Why or why not?
• How do you think the study of the Malham Cave can contribute to the study of other caves?

Discussion B

• In your opinion, is studying caves valuable? Explain.
• Apart from the unavailability of some technology, what other problems do you think researchers studying caves might experience? Discuss.