Rising Star: Malapa and darkness

My most recent post on the Rising Star Expedition blog describes the team’s “Field Trip to Malapa”. Some context from another early hominin site:

Malapa showed that a concerted system of exploration could discover important new hominin fossil sites, where no one had noticed them previously. The story about how Lee used Google Earth followed by systematic ground survey to identify sites has by now become famous. But the implications have not been widely absorbed.
The Rising Star Expedition resulted from a similar deliberate survey. Lee employed geologist and caver Pedro Boshoff to explore known cave systems looking for undescribed fossil deposits. In the Rising Star system, Pedro found a slot that he couldnt fit through, so he enlisted Rick Hunter and Steve Tucker, two experienced cavers with the right physique to navigate what we now call the Chute. The discovery followed from cooperating with experts with very different skill sets, bringing them together to explore.

I highly recommend the post by one of our advance cavers, Rick Hunter: “The Journey Into Darkness:.

Deceptively it opens up into large chamber where the only hope of passage is a vortex where only the smallest of brave souls could dare enter. Blocked by a steady and stubborn, unrelenting stone gatekeeper who is the only one that decides who may pass and who may only plot its demise. Once into this tunnel where simple claustrophobia seems a pleasant alternative, there is still the mammoth task of inching your body through this tiny gun-barrel. Dust and unforgiving stone carry on for what seems to never end, then you suddenly stop and view a road block that once hung from the ceiling as a pendulum.

These cavers have been heroic, serving long shifts underground to keep our advance scientists safe.