General Information > Surface Geo-forms


(The Emergence of Grey)

The birth of two mountains starts from …the depths of the sea.

Going back 245 million years ago, at the depths of Tethys, the most ancient sea that covered the whole of the area of present day Mediterranean, a slow deposition of sediments and dead sea organism shells piled up for years to be impacted and transformed into solid rock formations. Since then, intense geologic phenomena have resulted in the creation of the famous geological park of Mt. Psiloritis.

The majority of these rocks, more than 70-80% of them, are sedimentary, i.e. limestone, dolostone and marble, which explains the presence of so many caves and other karst formations. These carbonate rocks appear to be hard and tolerant to erosion, but, in fact, contact with acidic rain water ‘melts’ these rocks, just like salt is dissolved in a glass of water. Interaction of carbonate rocks with intense tectonic phenomena, caused by the movement of lithospheric (tectonic) plates, helps shape a multiform relief with numerous dolines, plateaus, plains, gorges and caves. Underground cavity formation depends on the volume of the mountain, the prevalence of carbonate rocks, stratification, faults, and rainfall.

Mt. Psiloritis is characterized by numerous caves of a great variety. There are endless networks of cave-gorges and underground water ways, hundreds of caves and cavities encountered throughout the mountainous mass. This is where ‘Tafkoura’ the third deepest and longest cave-gorge in Greece is located: it is 860 meters deep and there are more than six and a half kilometers of corridors within it. Some of the deepest similar formations in the country are also found here: “Tafkos sta Petradolakia” (Petradolakia grave)(-475m), “Diplotafki” (Double grave) (-400m), “Koritsi” (the Maiden) (-223m), which are present-day networks of flowing waters feeding the largest water sources along the northern shores of the Prefecture of Irakleion.

The caves of Talus’ Mountains are smaller, which is to be expected due to this mountain’s lower altitude and more limited limestone thickness; however, there are numerous morphologically different caves with rich décor scattered on every summit and every slope; some of them are "tafkos tis Langufas” (the grave of Langufa), “Moungri”, “Yomatas”, etc. Caves on this Mountain, which answers to the name “Kouloukonas” are a natural continuation – just like the mountain itself – of Mt. Psiloritis. As a whole, the two mountains comprise a special geologic heritage monument for this island and has been associated with the lives of its human inhabitants for centuries; this is reflected in the numerous legends and stories that have survived to our days.

The photographs presented reflect highlights of the underground landscapes of magnificent Mt. Psiloritis and its neighbouring Mt. Kouloukonas, a cluster of conical masses looming over the northern Cretan shores between Rethymnon and Irakleion. This complex is one of the three major mountainous masses of Crete – the "middle sail” as Kazantzakis would have it – and this is where some of the most important caves of the island lie.

Venturing to photograph such inaccessible points as these in the caves and cave-gorges of the unique Geopark of Crete could be considered only a humble contribution to the photo-recording of cave landscapes of the island and Greece in general.
Copyright © Σπηλαιολογικός Όμιλος Κρήτης, ΛΑΒΡΥΣ, Ηράκλειο 2008
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