Caving in Crete

Lion

Chania

Lion pothole
(1 Vote)

Leon Cave was officially discovered on 11 August 2008 by a French-Greek team of speleologists, exploring the White Mountains of Chania (area Atzinolakos, near Melidoni). However, its existence was known 15 years ago, during a French mission of the Catamaran Club. The area of Atzines has high speleological interest which has attracted mainly French, exploratory missions. The area is home to the deepest caves in Greece (Gourgouthakas, Leon, Mavro Skiadi,, etc). It is very likely that the systematic research in the region could lead to even greater discoveries in the coming years.

The descent to the cave is very difficult especially up to the middle (470m). In 2008, the 23-member team that explored the cave reached a depth of 1110m and 2850m length, which classified it as the second deepest cave in Greece, 60th in the world and among the 84 explored caves in the world that exceed the depth of 1000m that time. In 2013 a new mission took place where 500 more meters in the underground river at -510m were explored.

The name lion is taken after the rock near its entrance that reminds of a seated lion. The entrance to the "lion" is located at an altitude of 1600 meters and a strong cold air stream comes out of it, indicating its enormous size. In its first part, i.e. from the entrance to the depth of 480m, the cave is relatively dry, narrow and steep with small vertical descents. After 480m, the topography of the cave changes, since it turns into an underground river which flows through areas with large dimensions (width up to 20m, height 20 to 30 meters). The flow progressively increases with depth, reaching 200 liters/second at its bottom. In the deeper parts of the cave, many waterfalls and lakes are formed. At its deepest point (i.e. 1110m depth, altitude 530m above sea level) the cave stops at a siphon (water lake) which requires diving to continue exploration.

Additional Info

  • Location: Chania Prefecture
  • Type: Sinkhole
  • Length (m): 2850
  • Accessibility: Walking

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