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Grotte de Saint Marcel : a major french cave system for speleology, sciences, tourism and education

  • Cailhol, Didier
  • Audra, P
  • Arnaud, Judicaël
  • Baudu, Jean-Pierre
  • Dupuy, Delphine
  • Pfendler, Stéphane
Publication Date
Jun 18, 2018
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Grotte de Saint-Marcel: a major French cave system for Speleology, Sciences, Tourism and Education Located in Ardèche (South east of France), grotte de Saint-Marcel is actually a 56 km long cave system with more than 18 km explored by cave diving. The cave, was discovered by the locals on 1835, the cave explorations started a few years later. On 1894, Martel published the first results in “Les Abimes”. The Municipality decided on 1870, to organize a tour in the galleries closed to the entrance, the tourists came by boat on the river Ardèche. From the 60’s, different caving clubs are involved in the systematic exploration of this huge cave system. During the same period, the construction of the touristic road, on 1962, through the gorges, has increased the tourism activity in the cave. On 1988, a territorial program for cave and karst protection put in place, and a natural reserve: “Reserve des gorges de l’Ardèche” was created for a sustainable management of the nature protection and the territorial development. Saint-Marcel cave system and karst have been the subject of many scientific research programs on speleogenesis, hydrogeology, biospeleology, cave climate, paleo climate, archaeology, in collaboration with international scientific teams and speleologists. Actually, the research policy focused on paleoclimate records in stalagmites, deep karst aquifers studies, cave ecosystems with a focus on condensation corrosion processes and the evolution of the CO2 in the different parts of the cave system. Another program concerns archaeology during the Paleolithic period. For 3 years, the show cave develops in partnership with the universities and caving associations, different educational programs for the tourists and pupils people. In the frame of field courses, the cave is also used for Master or Bachelor training. This presentation will propose an overview of the cave heritages, and the actions on going.

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