Exploring the rate of climate change from deep within the Earth

Author: Katherine Lehmuller, October 2016

Beautiful and majestic – The Dolomites. Protected as a heritage site by the United Nation's UNESCO division, and proclaimed to be among the most beautiful mountains of the world, they still hold unexplored treasures in parks such as the South Tyrolean Fanes-Senes-Braies. “Inside the Glaciers”, an ongoing project sponsored by La Venta, explores the details of the inner chamber of one of the Italian Alps’ largest abysses located within the Fanes park. The team uses a Leica Geosystems laser scanner and Leica Cyclone software to pick up the details.

There are scientific exploration teams and then there are the truly dedicated exploration teams. The latter is how one could describe the association La Venta Esplorazoni Geografiche based in Treviso, Italy. Lead by geologist Francesco Sauro, who was recently selected by TIME magazine as one of 10 Next Generation Leaders, the La Venta team organises and runs various geographical and environmental exploration projects, such as “Inside the Glaciers.” The goal of La Venta is to create awareness of Earth's natural wonders, locally and globally, in order to conserve these unknown treasures.

Within the 25,000 hectare Fanes-Senes-Braies park lie the Conturines, a mountain located in the heart of the Dolomites. Deep within this mountain, high above sea level at 3,000 metres, is the Abyss of Cenote.

The entrance to the glacier abyss first presented itself after a sinkhole collapsed in the late 20th century. Never before touched by human activities, the discovery of this cave is one of major importance to researchers. Studying the morphological evolution of ice masses and microfossils found here will help researchers to better understand environmental changes happening to our world.

Because the cave's entrance lies at over 3,000 metres, weather conditions present difficulties and attempts to explore the abyss have failed. Finally, after two decades, the team, equipped with a Leica Geosystems laser scanner and Leica Cyclone software, could document the inner most chamber.

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Story: Exploring the rate of climate change from deep within the Earth
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