Under the mountain of Sodom at the dead sea in Israel, according to the researchers, information longest known salt cave in the world. The Malcham cave extends over a length of ten kilometers. Previously, the Namakdan cave was on the Iranian island of Keschm – the so-called “cave of three Nudes” – with about 6.5 kilometers, as the longest salt cave in the world. Stefan Kempe, Emeritus Geology Professor at the TU Darmstadt, Germany, confirmed that so far, no salt-cave with more than ten kilometers in length, is known.

location: mount Sodom in Israel

For the past two years, Malcham is studied-the cave of researchers under the direction of the cave research center of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Israel Cave Explorers Club and the Bulgarian Sofia Speleo Club. “Of course, cavers prevails between us is a competition, but it is a friendship, is competition,” says Ephraim Cohen, a member of the research team.


The cavers Ephraim Cohen (l.), Yoav Negev and Boaz Langford (right) in the Malcham-salt cave on the dead sea

©Felix Wellisch DPA

“of all our working hours, we have spent approximately 1500 days under the earth,” says Boaz Langford, the head of the investigation. The expeditions are over 80 cave explorers from nine countries took part, including employees from Germany. In the coming year, the investigation should go further, as not all areas of the cave are explored. You could then be officially a few hundred meters longer, say the researchers.

the heart of the Malcham cave, the so-called Bridal chamber where over the centuries the impressive salt sculptures are grown. Every drop of water that seeps through the ceiling, leaving behind some of the salt crystals. With the time meters are grown out of it long stalactites. In contrast to the stalactite caves of the salt sculptures grow much faster. “Up to a Meter per year”, says researcher Ephraim Cohen.


The cave system extends, according to the scientists, more than ten kilometers in the mountain of Sodom


well-Known is the cave a long time ago, earlier it was used by the researchers, according to workers at the dead sea, as a protection from the burning midday sun. Some of them have been explored already in the 1980s by Amos Frumkin, a Professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. At that time, the researchers came but only to a length of 5685 meters. Thirty years ago, we used measuring tape and a compass,” recalls Frumkin. “Today, we have laser technology that can be over the phone.” That’s why you have the actual dimensions of the cave at that time.

The cave continues to grow

the salt caves, such as the Malcham cave are rare. They occur only in very dry regions, in which salt layers up to the surface to be pressed about by movements in the earth’s crust. “Salt is not fixed, but is flowing, even if only very slowly,” explains head of research at Langford. If the rock layers move it to the top squeezed like toothpaste in a Tube.”

other places, the salt is removed quickly from the rain. At the dead sea, but it only rains very rarely, but then violently. These flash floods dissolve the salt and create the caverns. “That happens even today, when it comes around once-a-year of heavy rains,” explains Frumkin. “The cave is, so to speak, alive. They continue to grow.”

km / DPA