The Israel Nature and Parks Authority on Wednesday announced the discovery of a stalactite cave, which an official at the Parks Authority described as “exciting and moving.”
The cave, located in Israel’s northern Galilee region, was discovered by the Quarry Rehabilitation Fund as it conducted development work, which then informed the Parks Authority of its existence, according to Hebrew media reports.
The cave, which measures only eight meters (26 feet) by four meters (13 feet) in size, is said to contain a number of coral reef caverns, stalactite, stalagmite and rock formations in the form of elephant ears.
Shay Koren, manager of the Parks Authority’s Lower Galilee division, said that despite being an “exciting and moving discovery,” the cave will not yet be opened to the public, due to the cave’s small size and to prevent damage to the stalactites and stalagmites, which are protected under law, Hebrew media reported.
Yinon Shivtiel, a lecturer at Safed Academic College and member of the Israeli Cave Research Center, said that “in the coming days we will continue to work on documenting, mapping and researching the cave” and that “we will prepare an organized plan for preserving the findings,” according to Hebrew media.
He also said that “the cave is still active and the stalactite is dripping, which we hope will help its preservation,” while adding that research will continue into why the cave has such a “relatively rare deposit of coral reef caverns.”
Stalactites and stalagmites are created by the slow dripping and depositing of material — often limestone — in underground caves over many thousands of years.
Israel’s most famous and most impressive stalactite cave is the Avshalom Cave, also known as the Soreq Cave, a popular tourist attraction just outside the city of Beit Shemesh. The Avshalom Cave extends over 5,000 square meters, and is unique for its dense concentration of stalactites. Like the latest find, it was discovered by chance, in May 1968, after the use of explosives during development work. It is named after Avshalom Shoam, an Israeli soldier killed in the War of Attrition that followed the 1967 Six Day War.
After its discovery, the location of the cave was kept secret for several years for fear of damage to its natural treasures.
Some of the stalactites in the Avshalom cave have been found to be as much as 300,000 years old. As long as four meters, some of the stalactites have grown to meet stalagmites and thus form stone pillars.