Underwater archaeologists made a stunning breakthrough in their investigation of eastern Mexico’s submerged cave systems in early January, 2018. The divers were part of the Gran Acuifero Maya team, an international research initiative. The scientists’ latest five-year mission has taken on the exciting adventure of directly exploring under the Yucatán Peninsula. And the team’s latest discovery links two underwater cavern complexes, making their find the largest submerged cave on Earth.
The underwater marvel lies beneath the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán headland, near the popular tourist destination of Tulum, in the East Mexico state of Quintana Roo. The two cavernous systems which have now been linked are Sac Actun and Dos Ojos. The former has effectively subsumed the latter, and together the two underground complexes comprise about 216 miles of flooded tunnels. The length of these channels are frequently punctuated by some 248 sinkholes, which are known as cenotes in American-Spanish.
The Gran Acuifero Maya project has gathered together a team of scientists from different disciplines to explore and map the caves beneath the Yucatán Peninsula. Its members include researchers from Washington DC’s National Geographic Society, and Mexican educational institutions the Aspen Institute Mexico and the Technological University of the Riviera Maya.