The Natural Engineering Behind the World’s Largest Caves

Near the Laos-Vietnam border, just beneath the ground, there sits a subterranean paradise larger than anything else like it in the world.

The Son Doong Cave is the largest known cave by cross-section in the entire world – it’s a place like you’ve never seen before. The cave contains its own flowing river, its own jungle, its own ecosystem, and is home to a treasure trove of mysteries. It’s also believed to be between 2 and 5 million years old.

In 1991, a local man name Ho Khanh found the cave on a hike, but due to the steep entrances to this subterranean paradise, locals and visitors didn’t brave making the journey.

In 2009, a group of cavers from the British Cave Research Association finally conducted a survey of the cave and discover its vast subterranean reaches. It was on this journey that the world became aware of how monstrously large this cave actually was.

Image Source: Concerning Reality

The cave passage is estimated to have a volume of 1.36 Billion cubic feet. It’s more than 5.5 miles long, 660 feet high, and 490 feet wide. Put in perspective, the cave has the equivalent volume of 37 Empire State Buildings. In total, there are 150 individually connected caverns each with their own alien ecosystem.

Two portions of the ceiling in the massive Son Doong Caves have collapsed bringing in all of the vegetation that previously resided on the surface. These two cave-ins are largely what have made the cave a lush paradise.

Son Doong is known as a solutional cave, meaning that the rock structure is made out of limestone formed through years of water movement from the local mountains.

Image Source: Concerning Reality

Inside the walls of this cave exist species of cave plants found nowhere else in the world along with species of monkeys, flying foxes, frogs, insects, hares – a complete biologically diverse ecosystem. On that note, the caves even have their own ecosystem separate from the outside world. The space is so large that clouds form in the caverns that let off light mistings.

Along with the vegetation and animals, the caves contain some of the largest known stalagmites in the world – up to 265 feet tall, the equivalent of a 26 story building. All this in a cave so big, you could fit a 40 story skyscraper standing straight up within its walls. Some trees have been growing in the cave for so long that they tower over 100 feet high – all stories beneath the Earth’s surface.

This hard-to-reach magical subterranean wonderland still has its mysteries. Researchers are unsure the source of its large river that flows through the paradise. Near the observable inlet, they have also found large collections of ancient possibly undiscovered fossilized species. The Son Doong cave may perhaps one of the most mysterious and alien-like places in the entire world, ripe with potential discoveries that could rock the scientific universe.

Trevor is a civil engineer (B.S.) by trade and an accomplished writer with a passion for inspiring everyone with new and exciting technologies. He is also a published children’s book author and the producer for the YouTube channel Concerning Reality.


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