Over 100 5.3-million-old lava caves greeting visitors in Toplita-Deda Gullet

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In the Upper Mures Valley, the Toplita-Deda Gullet, in the central county of Mures (centrul Romania), there are over 100 lava caves that are unique in Romania that were formed in the active period of the Calimani-Gurghiu Volcano, nearly 5.3 million years ago, some of which will be open to visitors.

The first lava caves in the Mures Valley were discovered in the Salard – Androneasca area, at 600-700m altitude, most of them in Mt. Calimani. In 2000, the first such caves in Mt. Gurghiu were also found.

„So far, nearly 100 such formations have been found, 16 of which can be called caves proper because of their size, while the remaining are pseudo-karstic formations. A real cave is formed in limestone, being a karstic phenomenon, but when these formations emerge in other kinds of rock, they are pseudo-karstic. These lava caves were probably found by accident, because nobody suspected Romania might have such caves, at least not in the area. Yet, in 1988, More Karoly stumbled upon some interesting formations which he studied and shortly realised there are highly rare lava caves”, says Hints Zoltan of the Mures Mountain Rescue Team.

Specialists say the lava caves merged as lava flew over the nearby forest, trapping trees in its wake that solidified, with the trees rotting in time because of the water running there, being flooded away from the volcanic rock, leaving behind lava caves.

Head of the Mures Mountain Rescue Team Kovacs Robert says not so far ago it was thought that lava caves in Europe only existed in Romania but some were also found in Slovakia as well and then there are such caves in Japan and the US.

The Mures Mountain Rescue Service says that so far the caves were closed to the public to avoid their deterioration, but two of them will be designed for visitors in the period immediately ahead.

Specialty are currently working on designing the first cave, which is also the largest, located between Rastolita and Lunca Bradului, with an entrance 2 m high, 15 m wide and just 50 m deep.

The works comprise retracing the 3-4-km track from the access road and also mounting warning signs and balustrades because 15-20-m-deep precipices are dotting the area.(National News Agency AGERPRES)

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