By: ELOISE WALTON
THE ENTRANCE to an important caving site and subterranean groundwater source in the parish of Paderne, blocked by rubble dumped following the construction of Albufeira marina in 2003, has still not been cleared up.
The entrance to the Escarpão pothole is located at Quinta do Escarpão, in a plateau with an area of 10 kilometres square. The pothole itself begins with a 10 metre pitch, followed by two levels of galleries 110 metres in length, separated by a five metre shaft.
Geological field mapping surveys and experiments were carried out in the Escarpão cave by researchers from Lisbon University and the Portuguese
speleological society in 1980 and 1984. This revealed the general course of the underground river which flowed in the karstified limestone cave formed during the Upper Jurassic period, around 161 to 145 million years ago.
In 2003, members of the Centro de Estudos Espeleológicos e Arqueológicos do Algarve (CEEAA), the centre for speleological and archaeological studies of the Algarve, denounced the blocked entrance to the parish council of Paderne, Albufeira Câmara and the Environment Ministry.
João Varela, a spokesman for CEEAA, told The Resident: “In 2003, CEEAA visited the site to carry out a topographic survey and photograph the cave, but were surprised to find the entrance sealed with tonnes of rubble from the construction of Albufeira marina,” adding: “We were shocked to find one of the Algarve’s largest caves and one of only two in the region with an underground river to be sealed in this way.”
João Varela said that after CEEAA had received no significant response from the relevant authorities, they contacted the Portuguese television station RTP.
After being contacted by RTP on March 20, 2004, the President of Albufeira Câmara, Desidério Silva admitted to the press that the unloading of rubble in that area was a mistake and the situation would be resolved within weeks. Last year, João Varela was contacted by Albufeira Câmara to accompany a Câmara technician to the site; however, no action to remove the waste obstructing the cave entrance has yet been taken.
When The Resident contacted Albufeira Câmara to find out why the situation remained the same, a spokesman said: “We will look into the matter”, however no official comment had been received at the time of going to press.
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