Expedición Sistema Camilo - Overview

Diver swims past columns in Sistema Camilo on survey dive

Diver swims past columns in Sistema Camilo on survey dive

Sistema Camilo is one of the longest submerged caves in the world, and it lies in an area of the Yucatan peninsula near the village of Tulum, Mexico. For many years, the Cambrian Foundation has been exploring, surveying, and mapping these passages. Rivers, lakes, and streams are absent in this part of the Yucatan, so the karst terrain and aquifer are critical to survival and have been a source of cultural significance to the Mayan people for thousands of years. As pressures on the environment increase along the Mayan Riviera, these cenotes and submerged caves are threatened by pollution, groundwater withdrawals, and improper discharge. Documenting the patterns and pathways of groundwater flow provides scientists and policymakers with data necessary for understanding where and how these intricate systems are connected in a labyrinth beneath the rocky soil. To date, the Cambrian Foundation has explored, surveyed, and mapped approximately 36,000 feet of underwater passage. Data from these expeditions are submitted to the Quintana Roo Speleological Survey, a collaborative repository for information and data pertaining to the cave systems in this region of Mexico. In 2004 and 2005, we were privileged to have high school students join us on our research team. These students assisted with dive operations, explored/surveyed/and mapped a previously unexplored vadose cave system on private property, monitored geochemistry features in 13 cenotes, and studied the significance of the cenotes in Mayan culture and history. The students’ experiences were documented in a public television program featured on Virginia Currents. Project directors have included Kyle Creamer, Amy Giannotti, Renee Power, and Terrence Tysall. Support for this project has been provided primarily by DiveRite, Henderson, Sartek Industries, the National Association of Cave Diving, Project AWARE Foundation, and the National Speleological Society-Cave Diving Section.

Stalactites, stalagmites, and columns are just some of the speleothems found in Sistema Camilo

Stalactites, stalagmites, and columns are just some of the speleothems found in Sistema Camilo

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