Matienzo Caves Project 2021

News and cave exploration around Matienzo during 2021.
A map with area names can be found here.

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January / February

   A brief update which will be expanded before the next Expedition:

    The Matienzo Caves Project has an exploration permit for 2021. A map shows the permit areas for all of Cantabria. A larger jpeg shows the permit boundary along with municipal boundaries and major cave passage. One area - a triangular section of Ribamontán al Monte - bounded on the NW side by the motorway and including Monte Llusa and Villanueva - is being shared with a Spanish group, Club Montaña y Espeleología La Cambera. These cavers have been busy documenting holes to the SW of Monte Llusa (the Cierrolinos area) and are in the process of surveying the larger finds. The mainly small finds have links below in the Cierrolinos and Garzón areas. One find, site 5067, Torca Cópica Escarlata, "looks great, this is a good one", has been surveyed for over 300m and is still going.
    The group publishes a blog which and been "dissected" and is now part of the Matienzo log book. (At the time of writing La Cambera had published 12 entries from January 15th to March 16th. See A jpg map of the finds can be seen here. We look forward to surveys and photographs and the time when we can properly share explorations. This will include pushing on in the Villanueva resurgence, site 5023.
    La Asociación Deportiva Espeleo y Montaña Colindres (ADEMCO) have published a journal detailing their finds in the Voto area in 2020. A couple of sites overlap our "old" areas: site 999 is on the track rising up to the south from San Miguel de Aras and their "new" AD-85 is our 0305, first found in 1981, but now properly documented by the Spanish group.
    The new book, "Matienzo Caves Project 2010 - 2019" has been published and advertised on the main caving social media sites. Details can be found here.
   The threat of a wind farm between Matienzo and the Miera valley was raised, affecting Arredondo, Riotuerto and Miera. This page summarises the possible works, the risks to some cave sites and a section of links to other proposed parques eólicos. One site mentioned as under possible threat is in the Pistruellos area, Riotuerto: Cueva de la Colodra is an archaeological site which we spotted out-of-area in 2006 and has now been added to the MCP catalogue as site 5069.
   Another proposed wind farm, again feeding into the Fuenta las Varas substation, is Las Quebraduras, outlined here.
   A section of links bringing together all the wind farms threats and info is found here.
   Pete Smith is collating a Matienzo Speleothems and Speleogens page, highlighting some examples of the myriad types of these features found in the Matienzo caves. Photographic examples (new or from the website) should be sent to Pete at smith_peter2004[at]
   Peter has also surveyed 3 small sites in the depression: 1455, 1530 and 1910.
   In another initiative, Simon Cornhill has suggested that old surveys, where survey data is not available, can have a Survex centre line recreated. This process can be carried out using an extension to Inkscape that Patrick Warren has produced. Again, people are very welcome to contribute. While identifying such sites, it became clear that many others might require a resurvey. All the details can be found on the dedicated "Caves with a Survey but no Centre Line" page.
   Jim Lister has pointed out, to remove any confusion, that Tilberthwaite Tarn in El Cubillón (2538) is also known as Stickle Tarn.
   In an act of mindless vandalism, the bear skeleton in Sima de los Hoyos (site 0072) has been destroyed and most of the calcited remains appear to have been removed. This came to light when Toño Cueto Gonzalo posted on Facebook. The Guardia Civil are now investigating this crime and another bear skeleton theft in Arredondo. The regional newspapers also publicised the theft and ongoing investigations.

   Peter Wynn et al have published a paper in Chemical Geology (Elsevier) based on water and stal collected and analysed from Cueva-Cubío del Llanío (3234). Titled "Contemporary systematics of vadose zone nitrate capture by speleothem carbonate", the paper concludes that nitrate trapped in stal forms a good historical and on-going record of levels of nitrate above and below ground. The potential for measuring changing nitrate pollution in karst areas is obvious. A link to the paper should be available until 22nd May 2021.

    There was no Easter Expedition, as there could be no holiday travel from the UK. We hope the summer expedition will be possible - we should know more by April.
    A small number of administrative updates have been written but there is little point in publishing completed updates to the web site, logbooks and maps until further work has been carried out by La Cambera and the expeditions are about to start up again, probably some time after Easter 2021.

The list below shows links to those 29 sites which were extended or newly discovered over January and February, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned using a GPS.

Alisas 189 shaft;
Caburrao 999 cave (AD-60);
Cierrolinos 5056 dig (LC182); 5057 Gallardón, Torca (LC183); 5058 cave (LC184); 5059 cave (LC185); 5060 Basura, Torca de la (LC186); 5061 Hornazo, Torca del (LC187); 5062 dig (LC188); 5063 Pinar, Torca del (LC189); 5064 shaft? (LC190); 5065 Agujero curioso (LC191);
Cubija 72 Hoyos, Sima de los; 1455 cave;
Garzón 5066 Michelín, Torca (LC192); 5067 Cópica Escarlata, Torca (LC193); 5068 Gafas, Torca de las (LC194);
Llueva 305 shaft;
Moncobe 2538 Cubillón, El; 5069 Colodra, Cueva de la;
Mullir 29 Subterránea, Cueva;
Ogarrio 4 Mar, Cueva del;
Riva 1 Burro, Sima del;
S Vega 1530 cave; 1910 cave;
Seldesuto 780 Corcada, Torca de; 1000 depression; 2102 shaft; 4521 dig;
Villanueva 5023 Villanueva, Fuente de;

Juan Corrin & Phil Papard 18/2; 25/2; 3/4/2021