Underground lake, Chapat Cave

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Photograph by James Rice.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention

Rice.Chapat_Cave_Lake.jpg

Underground lake, Chapat Cave, Belize. This lake is the home of cave-adapted fish, crabs, and other life. Scientists are interested in the hydrology of Chapat Cave, since it is known to flood as much as a hundred feet above the normal level shown here. The timing and cause of the floods is not yet known.

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“The timing and cause of the floods is not yet known.”

Well that would make visiting the cave fairly exciting, even without the interesting fauna.

Is that a backpack or SCUBA gear?

That is a backpack. I have been considerably below this lake level on a couple of occasions. It is a “hanging lake”, meaning there is dry areas below it. Visits to that area of the cave are rare though because of fluctuating low oxygen levels. The floods are probably related to flooding outside the cave, but no direct correlation has been established. During the dry season we don’t expect floods to occur. It is not known how fast the cave floods, no one has seen it occur, but the mud stains on the ceiling show us how high it can get. The white markers on the far left of the photo are plastic pipes with floats in them. A cheap and simple way to gauge how high the lake level has gone between visits. Scientists visit this part of the cave about once a year.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on December 19, 2011 12:00 PM.

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