MONTREAL – Just 10 meters below the streets and parks of a residential neighborhood in Montreal, there is a network of glacial caverns that no human being had seen until a few weeks ago.
The 15,000-year-old caves were discovered in October, a pair of amateur explorers who pierced and hammered through the ancient limestone walls of an existing cave to reveal the great chamber beyond.
When they poked their heads through the wall, they saw a spacious cave six meters high. high ceilings that branch off into a series of serpentine passages stretching hundreds of meters below the Saint-Leonard neighborhood of Montreal.
It was the discovery of Daniel Caron's whole life, who said that the dream of every "spelunker" is to find a place no one has gone before.
"Normally you have to go to the moon to find that kind of thing," said Caron, an amateur cave explorer who discovered space with his friend Luc LeBlanc.
Moisture, stratified limestone walls and pass ages are full of stalactites, formed over thousands of years by small drips of water.
Caron and François Gélinas, the director of the Quebec speleological society, led The Canadian Press on a tour of the caves, which are reached by crawling on hands and knees through muddy tunnels, stairs and edges along of narrow passages.
The chambers were formed thousands of years ago during the last ice age when the pressure from massive glaciers divided the rock below the surface, Caron explained. The caves are underground and require exercises to reach, the couple is sure that nobody has been inside, with the exception of the original small camera that has been open to the public for a long time.
"They built the street above the cave and I never found the cave," Gélinas said, looking at the dripping brown roof.
Although it seems incredible that something of this size could exist under an important city, Caron said that the undetectable nature of the caves is what has inspired him to look for them for more than 50 years.
"Underground excavation is the only thing on the planet where there are no scientific, technical or technological means to know if there are caves, and if they are large or small," he said.
Ground-penetrating radar does not work, he said, which means that the only way to detect caves is through good old-fashioned human exploration.
So far, Caron and his partners have discovered between 250 and 500 meters of caves, although they are sure that the true dimensions are much longer.
Some of the passages require rock climbing equipment and possibly more barriers to enter.
The Canadian Press