Climate change has uncovered one of the largest caves in Canada

A massive cave discovered in 2018 in Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia, has gone undetected for hundreds of years because it was filled with ice and covered in snow, confirms study published in Journal Canadian Earth Science.

It’s an amazing natural feature found due to climate change , says geologist Catherine Hickson, co-author of the study and one of the first people to explore the interior of the huge cavity.

The discovery of the hidden cave is further proof that climate change is reshaping the planet.

Catherine Hickson, geologist

Scientists admit, however, that the melting ice provides an opportunity to explore what may be the largest cave of its kind in Canada. It could lead to a network of smaller caves and life underground, believes Hickson.

like the plug in a sink

The cave acts as a drain, swallowing a gushing river created by glacial runoff.

The entrance to the cave. Geologist Catherine Hickson said the vertical height of the cave entrance is 145 metres, large enough to swallow the Statue of Liberty. (Catherine Hickson/Tuya Terra Geo Corp.)

Because it is cold and there is a significant amount of snow in this area, the ice cap was always present, like the plug in a sink.

Catherine Hickson, geologist

Travel notes and photos taken in the cave between 1949 and 2018 have determined that the ice plug has failed in the past 10 years.

Its precise location is not disclosed in order to dissuade amateur climbers and tourists from harming the environment. Intruders face a fine of up to $1 million.

Catherine Hickson and her colleagues obtained a permit to explore the mouth of the cave to assess its size in 2018. The team requested a multi-year research permit to start exploring again in the fall of 2021.

The exploration window is narrow, because you can only enter it when the river level is low, between September and October.

The cave will not be officially named until indigenous communities have been consulted.

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