Language: English with a trilingual abstract in English, German, and French
Northern Laos is virtually unknown to speleology. Only a few reconnaissance projects and three caving expeditions were conducted prior to 2005 in the province of Luang Phrabang: a Dutch expedition (AMIS Laos expedition 2000, with a preparatory trip in 1999) and two German projects in 2002 and 2003/04.
The 2000 AMIS Laos project produced approximately 7300 m of surveyed passage from 15 caves, including the 2070 m long system Tham Khan–Pageo (Muang Ngoy, Nam Ou Valley, Ngoy district — now open to tourists), the 1433 m long Tham Gnai (Nan District), and the 1028 m long Tham Pha Kouang (Nong Khiaw, Ngoy district), as well as the deepest cave found to date in the region: the –105 m deep Tham Thia (Nan District).
The two German expeditions produced 5564 m of mapped cave passages from 34 caves, the longest of which was Tham Loum (Xiang Ngeun District) with 1598 m of passage. Finally a joint Dutch–German project was conducted in February 2005. In the area of Phou Khoun south of Luang Phrabang several caves were linked to form a 2,65 km long cave system (Tham Seua–Nam Lot). A new caving region was visited around Vieng Phouka in the Luang Nam Tha province close to the Thai and Burma borders. The first investigations resulted in significant findings such as Tham Pasat (Tham Nam Mai) at 1490 m, Tham Nam Eng (Fossil Cave) at 3120 m, and Tham Nam Eng (Resurgence Cave) at 3460 m.
Overall, roughly 24,3 km of cave passage has been surveyed to date in northern Laos. This report contains an overview of all visited caving regions with detailed maps and cave descriptions. Additionally, one chapter is dedicated to biospeleological investigations.
Abstract / Zusammenfassung / Résumé 5
1 Acknowledgements / Team Meübers 6
2 Introduction 10
2.1 History of speleological exploration of Laos (by J. Dreybrodt & M. Laumanns) 10
2.2 Geological overview (M.Laumanns) 14
3 The caves of the Luang Phrabang province (by J. Burgers, J. Dreybrodt, D. Eskes, M. Laumanns, H. Steiner & W. Zillig) 15
3.1 General remarks 15
3.2 Area A: Nong Khiaw / Muang Ngoy 16
3.3 Area B: Nam Bak 23
3.4 Area C: Ngoy Nua 26
3.5 Area D: Thong–Khang 37
3.6 Area E: Luang 45
3.7 Area F: Xiang Ngeun 59
3.8 Area G: Nam Khan 67
3.9 Area H: Nam Pa 70
3.10 Area I: Phou Khoun 74
4 The caves of the Luang Nam Tha province (by J. Burgers, J. Dreybrodt, M. Laumanns, H. Steiner & W. Zillig) 79
4.1 Area J: Vieng Phouka 79
5 Biospeleological observations 86
5.1 Bats (by Martijn Boonman) 86
5.2 Biospeleological notes on Laos (by Helmut Steiner) 92
6 Conclusions 97
7 References 98
Caves explored during the 2000, 2002, 2003/04 and 2005 speleological projects 103
Photo tables 106
The known caves of northern Laos according to map sheets 1 : 100 000 (by H. Steiner) 116
Atlas sheets cave survey Tham Nam Eng 120
Atlas sheets cave survey Tham Pasat (Nam Mai) 135
Atlas sheets cave survey Tham Seua — Nam Lot 141
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