New St. Michael's Cave

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New St. Michael's Cave
Lower St. Michael's Cave
Lower St. Michael Cave, Gibraltar.jpg
Various speleothem at New St. Michael's Cave.
Map showing the location of New St. Michael's Cave
Map showing the location of New St. Michael's Cave
Map showing location in Gibraltar
Coordinates36°07′33.2″N 5°20′45.7″W / 36.125889°N 5.346028°W / 36.125889; -5.346028Coordinates: 36°07′33.2″N 5°20′45.7″W / 36.125889°N 5.346028°W / 36.125889; -5.346028
Discovery1942
GeologyLimestone
Entrances1
AccessOrganised tours
Show cave openedYes
Show cave length200 metres (660 ft)
LightingFully lit
FeaturesAlmost all known speleothem and lake.

New St. Michael's Cave, also known as Lower St. Michael's Cave, is a cave system in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. Unlike its namesake, St. Michael's Cave (proper), which has been known for over 2,000 years, this cave was discovered as recently as World War II.

The cave was accidentally discovered during World War II, when in 1942 the Royal Engineers were blasting inside the Rock of Gibraltar so as to create an alternate entrance to the lower chambers of St. Michael's Cave, which had been prepared as an emergency hospital. The first sign was when their tunnelling appeared to create no rubble as it had fallen through the newly created opening into this previously undiscovered cave which may have remained sealed for some 20,000 years.[1]

The cave's chambers include examples of almost all known cave formations, including a lake nearly 40 yards (37 m) long containing an estimated 45,000 imperial gallons (200,000 l) of crystal-clear water.[1] After the war, the cave and every visitor was supervised by the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence, specifically the Royal Engineers. It was not until the 1970s that civilian guides were authorised. Within ten years, the guides were all civilians as the Gibraltar Tourist Board took over the cave's management from the military.[2]

Three-hour guided tours of the cave can be arranged, ending with viewing the underground lake.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Lower St Michael's Cave". Visit Gibraltar. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  2. ^ Perez, Charles E. (2005). Upper Rock Nature Reserve page 69 (PDF). Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society.
  3. ^ Ham, Anthony (1 January 2010). Andalucía. Lonely Planet. p. 152. ISBN 978-1-74179-012-2. Retrieved 17 January 2013.