National Geographic : 1992 Nov
On Televiseon Going Underground: The Lure of Caving GC omeday I hope to discover a huge cave no one else has U been in before," says Leah Brown (below) of Huntsville, Ala bama-at nine years old a caver and champion rope climber. With broad areas of the United States underlain by "cave rocks"-limestone, dolo mite, marble, and gypsum-but only a fraction of existing caves explored, she stands a good chance of realiz ing her dream. Hers and other dreams take form in "Mysteries Underground," the first film of the 1992-93 season of National Geographic Television Specials, funded by Chevron. Even in their wildest dreams Dave Allured, Rick Bridges, and Neil Backstrom could not have imagined the magnitude of their discovery on May 25, 1986, in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. Dig ging in a 90-foot-deep pit, they uncovered an extraordinary cave system. More than 1,600 feet down, Lechuguilla is the deepest cave in the U. S. and, with 60 miles mapped so far, the fourth longest (NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, March 1991). Now for the first time and, to pro tect the cave's fragile environment, maybe the last, the National Park Service has allowed a film crew to document the find. "Mysteries Underground" gives its audience an unparalleled view of this splendid cavern-immense rooms lavishly decorated with glit tering white gypsum chandeliers 20 feet long; delicately carved calcite columns that rise more than 50 feet from floor to ceiling (above); halls festooned with "bushes" of arago nite; shimmering sapphire pools. From ice caves to underwater caves, from frantic rescues of human visitors to glimpses of the behavior MICHAELNICHOLS,MAGNUM of full-time inhabitants, "Mysteries Underground" is illuminated, says producer Lionel Friedberg, "by the spirit of the caving community and the infinite variety of what's down below." "Mysteries Underground" Special on PBS, November 18, 8p.m. ET. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICEXPLORERAIRSON TBSSUPERSTATION,SUNDAYSAT 9 P.M . ET. NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSPECIALSAIR ON PBS;CHECKLOCALLISTINGS.