Francesco Sauro: Deep under the Earth's surface, discovering beauty and science
Francesco Sauro - Speleologist
Francesco Sauro studies caves and other karst features, and his research takes him places no one has ever been before. Full bio
and the stuff of legends.
biological and mineralogical worlds.
in the last three centuries --
to satellite technology, of course --
of our planet's surface.
about what is hidden inside the earth.
like this deep shaft in Italy, is hidden,
the geographical dimension --
living on the surface,
side of the planet
started about one century ago,
in every continent of the world.
like Mammoth Cave, which is in Kentucky,
as more than 600 kilometers.
which is in the Caucasus region,
explored in the world,
meters below the surface.
for a cave explorer.
along cracks, fractures,
of tunnels, conduits --
of the continents' surface,
in the last 50 years
of cave passages around the world,
that what is still missing,
of a cave that we already know,
of undiscovered passages.
an endless continent,
to explore it completely.
without considering other types of caves,
or even volcanic caves,
but are formed by lava flows.
like, for example, Mars,
that we do not need to go to Mars
a cave explorer.
when I was really young
from my hometown in North Italy,
and the Dolomites.
brought me to the farthest corner
for new potential entrances
to visit the tepui table mountains,
and Amazon basins.
from the first time I saw them.
vertiginous rock walls
that are lost in the forest.
a sense of wilderness,
and millions of years.
inspired among other things
"The Lost World" novel in 1912.
as islands in time,
from the surrounding lowlands
by up to 1,000-meter-high walls,
impregnable by humans.
of these mountains have been climbed
a scientific paradox:
on the earth's crust,
is called quartzite,
and least soluble minerals on earth.
to find a cave there.
speleologists from Italy,
and, of course, Venezuela and Brazil,
we have to consider the time factor,
is extremely long,
with the formation of the rock,
of the region 150 million years ago,
of the Pangaea supercontinent
or even hundreds of millions of years
on the tepuis' surfaces,
and form stone cities, rock cities,
in the famous landscape of the tepuis.
in so long a time frame.
on one of those massifs,
because it hosts Angel Falls,
waterfall in the world --
of the existence of cave systems
of collapses of the surface --
was a void below.
was something inside the mountain.
to reach this area,
because -- you have to imagine
by clouds most of the year, by fog.
of rainfall per year,
to find good conditions.
landed on the spot
the exploration of the cave.
of the tepui plateau,
of cave passages.
of underground rivers,
extremely deep shafts.
language, "The House of the Gods."
have never been there.
to reach this area.
about the existence
of the indigenous people,
it was really a sacred place,
with our presence,
with the community,
a snapshot of the past.
100 million years,
that we can explore on earth.
is really evidence of a lost world.
what you know about caves --
or the touristic caves
in several places in the world.
a simple stalactite here
but is made by opal,
tens of millions of years to be formed.
like these mushrooms of silica
when we were exploring the cave.
and discovering those unknown things,
because it was all a discovery,
that this kind of formation,
are living organisms.
to build mineral structures
forms of life that we can find on earth.
bacteria colonies have evolved
from the external surface,
in contact with humans.
for science are enormous,
for example, microbes
diseases in medicine,
of material with unknown properties.
a new mineral structure for science,
even a small cricket,
in complete isolation.
in the cave are real connections
and the mineralogical world.
and biological diversity and uniqueness,
about the origin of life on our planet
and evolution of life
and Brazilian speleologists,
in the farthest areas of the Amazon.
3,000 meters high above sea level,
of Rio Negro in Brazil.
even bigger cave systems,
Give me that to start so we don't forget.
to go to Mars to find alien life,
you were in Sardinia
tell and teach to the astronauts?
it's a program of training
Roskosmos, JAXA astronauts, in a cave.
for about one week in isolation.
in a real, real dangerous environment,
because it's unusual.
They have a lot of tasks.
to one of the pictures
of the other photos --
from the team La Venta,
are from the photographers.
with you in the expedition.
they're speleologists and photographers.
I wonder: there is zero light down there,
the photographers, take these pictures?
in a darkroom, basically,
to paint the environment.
the shutter open for one minute
you want to achieve.
and that's what you get.
someday, I don't know.
About the speaker:Francesco Sauro - Speleologist
Francesco Sauro studies caves and other karst features, and his research takes him places no one has ever been before.
Why you should listen
Italian speleologist Francesco Sauro is fascinated by the tabletop mountains of South America, the tepuis. These plateaus, which tower over the Brazilian and Venezuelan rainforest, hide behind their dramatic landscape a lost world of extensive cave structures. They harbor unique geological and biological features that have evolved in isolation over millennia.
With nearly twenty years of caving experience, Sauro has participated in research in many cave systems all over the world, but keeps coming back to the tepuis, where he has led six expeditions since 2009. He leads also a caves training program for European astronauts.
Francesco Sauro | Speaker | TED.com