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The Soreq Stalectite Cave

The Soreq Stalactite Cave (also called Avshalom Cave or simply Soreq Cave) is a 5,000 square meter (50,000 square feet) cave in the Judean hills not far from Bet Shemesh. It has a dense concentration of magnificent stalactites. The cave was discovered accidentally in May 1968, by a quarrying crew.

Like other dripstone caves, Soreq Cave is teeming with natural sculptures formed by hundreds and thousands of years of mineral-rich water drops, gradually leaving behind a rock residue.

We have seen several stalactite caves in the United States and Europe but none are so well preserved and lovingly cared for as this one. A visit to the cave is an extraordinary experience.

Here are some pictures of the Soreq Cave:

Sign in Hebrew and English
The sign at the entrance of Soreq Cave
Speleoseismite
Speleoseismite – a damaged speleothem (cave deposit) as a result of a seismic event such as earthquakes. You can find it here inside Soreq Cave

The roof of the cave is a hanging “exhibit” of rods of different shapes and sizes, resembling carrots, twisted octopus tentacles and elephant trunks. On the limestone floor, you can find sand castles and rock towers, some of which reaching as high as 30 feet. Many of these rocks resemble coral reefs or cauliflower heads.

lighting at the cave
Hauntingly beautiful lighting inside Soreq Cave

The new lighting at Soreq Cave — not just for a show

As if the rocks weren’t strange enough, the addition of a new LED lighting system in 2012 adds to Soreq Caves’ eerie factor. But it makes the cave formations look more spectacular.

Glowing amber lights gradually and dramatically change into neon blue mixed with streaks and circles of emerald, bathing the cave’s natural formations in almost “trippy” colors.

However, the lighting system wasn’t installed for aesthetic or artistic purposes. Instead, the colors were carefully selected in an effort to keep Soreq Cave’s stalactites and stalagmites as clean and pristine as possible.

By using limited shades of blue, green and orange, scientists are hoping that this new lighting system will help prevent the growth of algae — the cave’s biggest enemy.

When the caves opened to the public during the 1970s, the use of white lights, initially provided by vehicle headlamps, triggered photosynthesis which led to the growth of algae. Traffic due to public use — the cave receives about 200,000 visitors a year — also increased the temperature and altered the all-important balance of carbon dioxide.

formations at soreq cave

Once, scientists did use UV light at night in an attempt to kill the algae. But alas, it left a soot-like residue that had to be cleaned; and eventually, the algae developed a resistance to UV light.

If scientists are proved right in their latest bet, photosynthesis won’t be rendered active under cooler LED lights in limited hues. And so far, since the new lighting was installed, there hasn’t been any signs of algae to be found. And of course, the obvious bonus — the mesmerizing LED light colors make Soreq Cave even more stunning.

For more details see – Stalactite Cave

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