The Israel Nature and Parks Authority announced Saturday that a large stalactite cave had been discovered in Israel.
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The authority did not reveal the exact location of the cave, which was discovered a few days ago during construction work, saying that entry is dangerous and forbidden for now. It did say, however, that it was located near the Tzur Hadassah community, southwest of Jerusalem, near the Green Line.
The authority said that the cave is currently being explored and mapped. In addition, the authority said that it, together with the Hebrew University Geography Department's Center for Caves Research, was looking into how to preserve the rare site. After a preliminary look inside the cave, the authority estimates that the site is large and houses various types of stalactites.
Stalactites and stalagmites are formed when rainwater seeps in through crevices in limestone and slowly and steadily dissolves the rock. This is called karstic activity.
There is karstic rock in the region of Israel’s mountain aquifer and a number of karstic caves have been discovered there over the years. The best known of these is Avshalom Reserve Stalactite Cave, more commonly known as the Soreq Cave, which has become a popular tourist destination.
Other scientifically significant and interesting karstic caves have been discovered. The most prominent of these is the Ayalon Cave, discovered east of Ramle in a quarry used by the Nesher cement factory. Rare species of animals were discovered in the cave, of a type that exist only in Israel and developed under conditions of complete isolation in the cave. Nesher stopped quarrying above the cave, and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority is to decide soon how to conserve this important site.