The ancient extinct volcano of Mt. Elgon, straddling the border of Kenya and Uganda, is penetrated by a suite of highly-unusual caves. These caves are neither limestone solution caves, nor lava tubes. There origin lies in the interplay of unique geology with the fauna – elephants and other mammals “mine” salt-bearing rock from the walls of the caves, extending then hundreds of meters into the mountain. The Mt. Elgon caves may have served as the original inspiration for H. Rider Haggard’s novel “King Solomon’s Mines, and are the controversial foci of two Marburg virus outbreaks described in Richard Preston’s book “The Hot Zone”.
Our work has focused on the first comprehensive mapping of the caves in Mt. Elgon national park, on a detailed study of speleogenesis, and on the ecology of the caves.
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