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New 7 Wonders of Nature Nominees

 

 

 

New 7 Natural Wonders of the World

New Seven Wonders of Nature-One of 28 nominees. Winners will be announced in 2011.

 

Jeita Grotto
Jeita, Lebanon
New Seven Wonders of Nature
Earth's Natural Wonders in Europe & Middle East
Coordinates-33° 56' 36.2 N, 35° 38' 28.89 E
Length: 9 kilometers (6miles)
Discovery: 1836
Number of entrances: two
 
The Jeita caves have been inhabited since prehistoric times. Ancient vestiges of a foundry were found in a one smaller cave nearby the Nahr al-Kalb river which suggests that this cave was used in prehistory to produce swords.

The modern discovery of the underground river of Jeita in 1836 is credited to Reverend William Thomson (an American missionary) who ventured some 50 metres (160 ft) into the cave. Reaching the underground river, he fired a shot from his gun and the resulting echoes convinced him that he had found a cavern of major importance.[2]

Jeita Grotto Picture Gallery
"The Guardian of Time" sculpture outside the Jeita Grotto.[1]

 

The Jeita Grotto is a compound of interconnected karstic limestone caves in Jeita, Lebanon located 18 kilometres (11 mi) north of Beirut in the Valley of Nahr al-Kalb. The complex consists of two separate caves.


The lower cave was inhabited in prehistoric times but rediscovered in 1836 by Reverend William Thomson; it can only be visited by boat since it channels an underground river which provides fresh drinking water for the inhabitants of Beirut.


The upper cave was discovered in 1958 by Lebanese speleologists. Located 60 metres (200 ft) above the lower cave, it has been accommodated with an access tunnel and a series of walkways to enable tourists safe visitation without disturbing the natural landscape. The upper cave houses the world's largest stalactite, composed of a series of chambers. The largest chamber has a maximum height of 120 metres (390 ft).

History
The Jeita caves have been inhabited since prehistoric times. Ancient vestiges of a foundry were found in a one smaller cave nearby the Nahr al-Kalb river which suggests that this cave was used in prehistory to produce swords.

The modern discovery of the underground river of Jeita in 1836 is credited to Reverend William Thomson (an American missionary) who ventured some 50 metres (160 ft) into the cave. Reaching the underground river, he fired a shot from his gun and the resulting echoes convinced him that he had found a cavern of major importance.
In 1873 W.J. Maxwell and H.G. Huxley, engineers with the Beirut Water Company, and their friend Reverend Daniel Bliss, president of the Syrian Protestant College (later the American University of Beirut) explored these caverns. In two expeditions carried out in 1873 and 1874 they penetrated 1,060 metres (3,500 ft) into the grotto which is the principal source of the Nahr el-Kalb that supplies Beirut with water. They were impeded by "Hell's Rapids" torrents which break onto razor sharp rocks. Dr. Bliss, Mr. Maxwell and the other engineers recorded their names and the year on "Maxwell's Column", a great limestone pillar some 625 metres (2,050 ft) from the entrance. About 200 metres (660 ft) further on, in the so-called "Pantheon", they wrote their names and details of the expedition on paper, sealed it in a bottle and placed it on top of a stalagmite. The lime-impregnated water has since covered the bottle with a thin white film, permanently fixing it to the stone.
Between 1892 and 1940 further expeditions were carried out by English, American and French explorers. Their expeditions brought them to a depth of 1,750 metres (5,700 ft).
Since the 1940s, Lebanese explorers, notably the members of the Speleo-Club of Lebanon (Lebanese Caving Club) founded in 1951 by the first Lebanese speleologist Lionel Ghorra, have pushed even deeper into the Jeita grotto. Their expeditions revealed a great underground system which is now known to an overall length of nearly 9 kilometres (5.6 mi).

In 1958 the lower caverns were opened to the public, meanwhile exploration was still underway mainly by the Lebanese Caving Club which led to the discovery of the elevated dry branch of the grotto later referred to as the upper galleries.

In 1962, the Spéléo Club contributed to a study of the upper galleries aiming to provide a tunnel course which was to be dug for touristic development purposes; this tunnel was begun in 1968.

In 1969, a concert with electronic music by the French composer Francois Bayle was held in the cave to celebrate the inauguration of the upper galleries. This event was organized by the Lebanese artist and sculptor Ghassan Klink. Other cultural events have taken place in this unusual surrounding, including a concert by the world acknowledged German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen in November 1969.

The caverns closed to the public due to the Lebanese civil war in 1978 both tunnels leading to the lower and upper galleries were used to store munitions, the outside buildings for military purposes. The caves reopened in 1995 and remain one of the country’s key natural attractions.


Geology


Lower cave at Jeita.The Jeita grotto is located within the Lower-Middle Jurassic strata of Keserouane which has a stratigraphic thickness of 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) and consists of dolostone and micritic limestone. The Keserouane formation was exposed to air by a local uplift during the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous. The Keserouane strata became karstified after its aerial exposure and then was buried during the Cretaceous. In the Neogene, upon the final uplift of Mount Lebanon, this early karstification phase was reactivated.
At the Nahr el Kalb valley, the impervious Upper Jurassic volcanic rocks and Lower Cretaceous sand slant almost vertically forming a hydrogeological barrier and forcing the outlet of the Jeita underground river to the surface. This barrier could be the reason for the westernmost, large cave chambers with heights exceeding 60 metres (200 ft). Karstification of the Keserouane limestone was further intensified by the steep topography of the area and the volume of precipitation over the Lebanon (more than 1200mm).


A ratio of total slope gradient of 1/100 is calculated between the entrance of the cave and its inland extremity. This shows its smooth flat course even though it is sometimes interrupted by several small cascades and rapids. From the west, the Jeita cave starts with large halls and meanders. Through some rapids, the dimension becomes narrower. Going forth, it is spacious with the Thompson’s cavern (250 metres (820 ft) long and 60 metres (200 ft) wide), Grand Chaos 500 metres (1,600 ft) long) and Mroueh’s Hall (200 metres (660 ft) long and 50 metres (160 ft) wide). The latter two are floored with collapsed blocks. The cave ends with a Y-shaped pattern, where, each branch ends with a siphon.[2]

 

 

Jetta Grotto Videos

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References
 
1. Wikimedia Commons-Jeita Grotto-Creative Commons Attribution License-retrieved 7/25/2009
2. Wikipedia- Jeita Grotto-retrieved 7/29/2009
 
 
 Wikipedia  text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

 

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