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Arco Professional Safety Services Supports Pioneering Expedition of Mulu Cave

Arco Professional Safety Services Training Instructor, Bartek Biela, embarked on a pioneering expedition to Gunung Mulu National Park to support cave work efforts which could potentially lead to future confirmation of its status as the largest cave system in the world by volume.

3D laser scanning was used to measure the volume of sections of the Clearwater Cave system and unveiled a vast connection, almost a kilometre long, leading to a chamber previously believed to be a dead end in earlier expeditions, adding a new layer of mystery to the intricate Mulu cave system. Today, larger passages are harder to find but the systematic approach employed to surveying of the smaller openings allowed the cavers to add hundreds of meters of new data to the master survey.

The three-week expedition, which comprised of 22 dedicated cavers and scientists to survey the caves, undertake scientific research and exploration, has also led to significant findings on the condensation corrosive effects to fabrics and plastics.

Agents that are present in the Mulu caves environment have been found to cause significant degradation of glued seams, stitching and other man-made polymers. These acidic gases are being tested by UK and American cave scientists to establish the causes of significant degradation of glued seams, stitching and other man-made polymers.

Bartek Biela, Training Instructor at Arco Professional Safety Services, commented: “I am immensely grateful to have received the invite call to be part of this amazing opportunity, that would give me a chance to meet and cave with the original explorers of the area, an opportunity that one does not refuse.

This expedition has delivered promising insight into the cave system and important, possibly even groundbreaking scientific research, not to mention the beauty of the underground landscape that I have had a chance to photograph”.

Richard Walters, the Expedition Surveyor said: “Acknowledging the challenging conditions of Mulu, renowned for its punishing environmental factors—extreme heat, humidity, mud, and frequent rainfall—these explorers faced the rigorous task of navigating caves that often require multiple days underground. Despite these barriers, the cavers emerged with compelling results that suggest the Clearwater Cave system may be the largest by volume in the world.”

As part of Arco Professional Safety Services’ sponsorship, the expedition was equipped with eleven tackle bags which proved to be extremely durable in the corrosive environment of the Mulu caves.

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