sign in a cave in Laos

21 February 2014

Vietnam lava tubes, Dong Nai 2014 Pt 2

The first few days of our 2014 lava tube expedition was spent in the Gia Ray area of Dong Nai province. See blog Part 1.

For the next 2 weeks we moved to the Than Phu district.

Two of the expedition members had started work here last year so had surveyed all the easy to find and easily accessible caves. This meant it was harder this year to find new caves. Also we were restricted in to what areas we could visit, as although we had permits arranged in advance, and these were 'OK'd' by the district office and police, the military said we could not go to certain areas. This meant we had to look elsewhere.

The whole area was extremely dry, in some places it reminded me of the Australian outback in northern Queensland, with dry soil, fallen leaves and a rocky terrain. However the volcanic soil is very rich and the area is farmed for tobacco, cashews, coffee, and many types of fruit trees.

Just west of Dinh Quan is the boulder perched on a rock. I had seen this in 1992.

West of Than Phu town is a forest of teak trees as well as Dipterocarpus alatus. Many people were busy collecting the large teak leaves. Through our translator we asked everyone about caves, but there were none in the western end of the forest.

We had a look at a cave the team had visited last year. One section of the cave had bad air and they were unable to finish the survey. We found it still has bad air. There are Hipposideros Pomona bats living in the cave and we saw several dead ones at the entrance.

Inside there were cockroaches close to the entrance and further in was a dead rat (?).

Roots come through the ceiling, looking for water

The exoskeleton of a whip spider, being eaten by millipedes -

There were many whip spiders in the cave -

and a long legged centipede

In limestone caves there are stalactite and stalagmites formed from calcite crystals. The lava tubes have baby "lavatites"!

Many of the caves have had their entrances blocked off by the farmers. One of these we decided was worthwhile to dig open, even though the farmer told us there were bombs in the cave.

The entrance was a vertical shaft and a large boulder had been put in. This took some effort to get out. The farmer worked hard. There was some display when an unknown object appeared in the mud and thinking it could be a bomb the farmer poured water on it and found it was just a harmless bottle!
There were a couple of large scorpions which were collected for dinner!

After a couple of hours the guys had broken through and could enter the cave. We decided to return the next day to survey it.

Just inside the entrance chamber is a grenade. Of course we didn't disturb it.

 A slab of rock hanging from the ceiling and one that has already fallen -

                                                                        mammal droppings

Another cave was covered by a mass of bushes which the local guys moved away. Unfortunately there was no real cave there

See cave fauna in the lava tubes.

Shapes of lava tubes.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

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