The United Kingdom’s national caving conference has formally dubbed China’s Miao Room cavern as the world’s largest known cave chamber by volume. The space is so immense, it is equivalent to four Great Pyramids and can comfortably fit a Boeing 747 jet inside of it…seriously.
First documented by a Chinese-European geology team nearly 25 years ago, the massive chamber is housed in the Ziyun Getu He Chuandong National Park near Guiyang, an area in Southern China known for its mountainous terrain. Although, it wasn’t until last year that a British group of explorers, in collaboration with the Institute of Karst Geology, revealed Mia Room’s astounding size of 380.7 million cubic feet.
Funded by the National Geographic Society, laser-mapping was used by an expedition crew in order to measure the immense geographic space. Connected by a 2,795-foot passage, there are two large domed chambers that make up the cavern, resting 325 feet underground with stalagmites that reach as high as up to a whopping 148 feet. The enormous cavern exceeds the Sarawak Chamber in Malaysia, the previous record holder, by an estimated 10 percent in volume; though in terms of largest surface area, the Malaysian cavern continues to reign.
On the find, Tim Allen, an expedition co-leader who studied the Chinese cave, explained to National Geographic, “To me, this is like discovering that K2 [the Himalayan peak] is larger than Everest.”
As a recent discovery, the cave has not been fully explored yet. Through use of the aforementioned 3D laser scanner technology, however, researchers can map what most of the natural wonder looks like without the formality of physically entering it. How exactly does this work? In short, the 3D laser scanner analyzes the amount of time it takes for a laser pulse to reflect back—once it does, a 3D depiction of the cave (within a maximum of 2,000-foot radius) appears on the screen a couple of minutes later.
Of course, we’ll be waiting for the day that an adventurer gets down into the gargantuan cave on his or her own…till that day comes, whenever it may be, these tech-savvy renderings will simply have to do.