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Exploring Russia's Blue Lake

Located in a remote area in North Caucasus, between the Caspian and Black Seas, the spectacular blue waters of Lake Goluboe, also known simply as the Blue Lake, are thought to conceal what may be the largest karst cave system in the world. It has been suggested that, as the lake along an ancient trade route, it's very likely that historic artifacts may lie in its depths. It is also speculated that World War II military vehicles laden with military equipment lie at the bottom of the lake. As yet, the lake remains largely unexplored and such theories remain unconfirmed, but if there is some truth to them, experts note that the constant nine degree Celsius temperature of the water would contribute to the preservation of any items hidden in its depths.

The color of Lake Goluboe has been compared to the color of a sapphire, but the odor emitted by the lake is not quite so romantic. It was long thought that the water's unusual color was as a result of the bed of the lake being covered in lazurite – a deep blue crystalized mineral. But in more recent years it's been discovered that the color is caused by the high level of hydrogen sulphide in the water itself. This chemical compound is responsible for the unpleasant smell of the water.

The depth of the lake has been measured as 258 meters, with its length being approximately 235 meters and its width 130 meters. It is one of the world's deepest karst lakes and the second largest in Europe. Karst formations are caused by the dissolving of layers of soluble bedrock (limestone, dolomite) and minerals (gypsum) leaving behind stronger rock which form caves. The high levels of gypsum in the lake's waters are an indication of the dissolving of this mineral, suggesting that there may be a large cave beneath the floor of the lake.

As part of the Blue Lake Awareness Project, in December 2011 an international team set out to explore Lake Goluboe. Sadly, one of the divers, Andrei Rodionov, drowned during a dive after losing consciousness, and another, Martin Robson, suffered decompression sickness after diving a record 209 meters, but he recovered. While being aware of the risks involved, divers will no doubt continue to try and uncover the mysteries of Lake Goluboe in the North Caucasus of Russia.

 



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