A network of 15,000-year-old caves beneath Montreal has been discovered by amateur explorers in what has been described as a “once in a lifetime” find.
Cavers have been exploring the Saint Leonard Cavern and its associated tunnels beneath the Canadian city for years, but have now chanced upon a new passageway 200 metres long, six metres deep and, in parts, only crossable by boat, believed to have been formed during the last ice age.
Luc Le Blanc and Daniel Caron, both members of the Quebec Speleological Society, found the caves, near Parc Pie XII, after years of trial and error exploration.
The pair used drills and hammers to probe past limestone walls, sure there was more on the other side.
“It’s a very rare event in your life [that] you discover so much cave passage,” Mr Le Blanc told Global News.
“At the end of the passage we explored so far, the water is five metres deep. We have to explore with an inflatable canoe and eventually we have to leave the canoe and go with our fins.
“We broke a small hole and through that window, we could see the void. Then we made our way through.”
Experts say the cavern was formed after downward pressure from glaciers cracked the rock during the ice age.
City authorities have launched a full investigation of the caves in the hope that one day they might be opened to the public.
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“It could be something unique in the world,” Saint-Leonard city councilor Dominic Perri told Global News. “Normally [when] you think about caves, you think of far away in the mountains, but it’s right here in the city.”
“People can enjoy this scientific discovery. We don’t want them to destroy it.”