sign in a cave in Laos

15 February 2014

Vietnam lava tubes, Dong Nai 2014 Pt 1

February 2014 I went to Vietnam with a small group of international cavers to look for lava tubes. We went to Dong Nai province, which is northeast of Ho Chi Minh City in south Vietnam.

The first few days there were 3 of us, and whilst waiting for the 4th expedition member to arrive a few days later, we went to check out an area that might or might not have lava caves. We stayed in Gia Ray and had a permit to visit Sua Chah area.

There are a few small old volcanoes in the area. It is not known when they last erupted. The first couple of days there was no sign of any lava fields and therefore no lava tubes. Lava tubes are formed after volcanoes erupt. But not all eruptions produce the right sort of lava to form these tubes. Lava is the molten rock thrown out by volcanoes.

We asked the locals but there they said there are no caves. We climbed one hill, it was very steep and very slippery scrambling up the dry loose soil. I stopped and let the others go on, but they only found a 8 m long cave!

Very close to Gia Ray town is a very high hill, Nui Chau Chan mountain, 837 m high. It could be an old volcano. This hill was used a repeater station for USAID radios by the US Army and Air Force in the war. At the top of the peak was a small landing zone, along with radio relay equipment and sensors. The US Army had blasted away part of the mountain top, as best they could, & sprayed some agent orange.
Located nearby was the Gia Ray rock quarry worked by the 94th Engineer Detachment to obtain crushed rock for road and base building. Crushed rock was a vital construction material.

We drove around part of the hill and were told there are many caves, mostly high up. However they might just be boulder caves.

In another area we were told by other locals that there were many caves in their land about 30 years ago, but they were all filled in by the farmers.

We did find a lava field on the 4th day. But there was no sign of any caves and the locals seemed sure there were no caves.

Then we were taken here, which seems to be the end of the lava flow. Everywhere we went we were accompanied by police as security.

 It was then time to go back to Ho Chi Minh City as the 4th member of the expedition was arriving. We would then continue to Than Phu, where lava caves definitely exist.

See Part 2.

Cave fauna in lava tubes.

Shapes of lava tubes.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

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