|Location:||In the vicinity of Kungur, 100km SE of Perm, east of Moscow.|
|Classification:||Gypsum cave Ice cave river cave.|
|Dimension:||L=5,700m, VR=32m, A=120m asl. T=-32°C to +5.2°C.|
|Guided tours:||L=1,300m. V=100.000/a|
V. Andrejchuk, E. Dorofeev, V. Lukin (1997):
Organ pipes in carbonate-sulphate rocks at the Kungur Ice Cave, near Perm, Russia,
Cave and Karst Science, Volume 24, Number 3, December 1997, pp. 101-106
|Address:||Kungur Ice Cave, S. Filippovka, Kungursky Rayon, Perm Krai, 617472, Tel: ++7-34271-62610, Fax: ++7-34271-62609. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1703||first survey made by the famous geographer and cartographer S. Remizov.|
|1733||first measurements of the cave climate by Professor I.G. Gmelin.|
|1914||opened to the public.|
|1937||visited by the participants of the International Geological Congress.|
|2003||laser show installed.|
Kungur Ice Cave derived its name from the old Russian town Kungur, founded in 1663, which is located some 3km away on the other side of the Sylva River. It was a center of the copper-smelting industry in the Ural mountains during the 18th and 19th century.
The cave is water filled as it is directly connected to the nearby Silva river. As a result, twice a year - in spring and in autumn - the cave gets flooded. During this time it is not accessible to tourists. When the water lever falls the subterranean river river vanishes and about 60 lakes remain in the cave.
As the name suggests, this cave is famous for its ice formations. The probably strangest ice formations are snowflakes the size of a maple leaf. They change in size during the year and are most spectacular during late winter, so March is the best time to visit the cave. This cave has a strange superlative, as it is the lowest known ice cave, only 120m asl. Ice caves need a temperature around 0°C, which results in a continuous forming and melting of ice. At lower temperatures the cave would soon be filled with ice completely, at higher temperatures there would be no ice. In most climate zones this temperature is reached only at a much higher elevation, so ice caves are generally found at certain heights in mountain ranges. The climate of this Ural region, close to the permafrost region, is rather cold. But the situation inside the cave is much more complicated, as temperatures between -32°C and +5.2°C are measured. There are areas which are always cold, areas which are always above zero and never contain ice, and areas with the classical situation of meltings and freezing.
Kungur Cave is developed in Permian gypsum rock, which is easily soluble by water. As a result it has huge chambers with almost bare walls as solution forms, rather typical for gypsum caves. The biggest chamber has a size of 50,000m². The rocks are interbedded layers of gypsum, anhydrite, dolomite, limestone, and breccia consisting of the same rocks. The limestone rocks are responsible for the limited amount of formations in the cave, without them there would be no formations at all.
The cave is known for a very long time. The first survey was made by the well-known geographer S.U. Remezov from Tobolsk, who was sent there by a decree of Peter the Great in 1703. This plan was later published all over Europe, so the cave become known internationally.
As a result of its fame the cave was developed as a show cave by the local Alexander Timofeyevich Khlebnikov (1877-1951), who was inspired by a visit to Mammoth Cave in the U.S.A.. After he returned home from his journey, he developed the ice cave and opened it to the public in 1914. At this time the cave had two tour routes with a total length of 2,000m.
Today about 1,300m of the almost six kilometer long cave are developed for visits, with two entrances and trails which connect four almost parallel passages. There are four different tours, which navigate the interconnected trails, two return to the entrance, the other two leave the cave at the second entrance. The most popular classic route is 1.5km long and is one of the original tours from 1914. One of the longer tours includes a laser show, the high-tech-equipment was purchased in Germany for 1.5 Million Rubles some years ago. A wall in the chamber called Grotto of the Geologists is used to display a laser movie featuring the history of the cave and the Yermak campaign. Today this is probably the most widely known cave of Russia, and despite of its remote location it is visited by 100,000 people every year.
The cave has always been a topic of scientific research. This includes the first survey, but also the measuring of the cave cave climate. Ice caves were the first ones which were scientifically examined for their climate. Here at Kungur measurements by Professor I.G. Gmelin started in 1733, which was the begin of scientific research on cave climate at all. The cave is still researched for its extraordinary climate.
There is a cave legend, about the passage named the Women's Trail. It was named after a foreign princess, who stumbled and fell on this trail. Soon after she returned from the cave visit she got married. Now the saying is, that if a lady stumbles and falls on this trail, she wil be married soon.
The nearby city of Perm is well known to geologists: the Permian period (286 to 245 million years ago) was named after this city. It is the type locale (locus typicus) for Permian rocks.