Explorers Make Exciting Discoveries in Lechuguilla Cave

The Newly Discovered Munchkin Land Section of Lechuguilla Cave

Photo by Derek Bristol

A group of 10 cavers from all over the United States recently made some exciting discoveries while on an expedition inside Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

The eight-day expedition in early May resulted in the discovery of a new section of cave passages with large rooms, deep pits, and many new leads and saw the greatest amount of distance added to the survey in one day since 1989.

The new area, dubbed Oz, was discovered after cavers successfully climbed a dome, known as the Kansas Twister, which measured in at 164 meters (535 feet), or the taller than a 50 story building. This makes the Kansas Twister the deepest pit (natural, direct, vertical expanse) known in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

The Cavers Who Made the Discovery inside Lechuguilla Cave

Photo by Brian Kendrick

Oz features passages, pits, and large rooms, one room, called Munchkin Land, is about 182 meters (600 feet) long and averages 38 meters (124 feet) wide by 32 meters (104 feet) high.

Since exploration began in 1986, over 215 kilometers (134.6 miles) of cave passages have been surveyed, making Lechuguilla one of the longest caves in the world.

For more information check out the trip report which team leader Derek Bristol posted on CaveChat.

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Comments (2)

  1. October 31, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Dear Caver!

    First of all CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    Just want to share to you how happy I am when I saw this article of discovery.

    I’m overwhelmed!!! Super Happy!!! really!!!

    Actually, I was collating latest journal articles on antibiotics for my masteral subject here in the Philippines. I am a Pharmacist by profession and a die hard Caver here locally.

    God! I’m really really H A P P Y!!! It’s like a dream come true!!! It’s been more than a decade that i dream of this…that somehow caves will give its best and this is it!!!

    You guys rock!!!

    Wish to meet you guys in the future caving adventure here locally….

    Again, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! More caves to preserve and protect…and…to explore!!!

    Janine Mercado

  2. Derek Bill
    May 11, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    I think it’s fantastic that such a major discovery has been made in what essentially was a completed survey. I am also fascinated by the prospect of a second entrance being discovered as the highest survey station was almost at level with the current entrance. This puts them at only 140 ft below the surface, and it was mentioned that there was cold air blowing from one of the high leads. Imagine the possibilties that this would open up. Well done to a persistent group of cavers.
    Derek Bill
    NSS 30860

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