This cave had been forming for hundreds of thousands of years on Mount Ya’ala in the Judean Hills. It was discovered accidently in 1968 during routine blasting for a quarry.
The small cavern has a large number of stalactites, hanging structures that resemble icicles that are made up of mineral deposits from dripping water. The natural sculptures are up to 13 feet long and range from a few millimeters to a few feet in diameter, and some have fused with stalagmites to form columns.
Some formations date back at least 300,000 years and have helped scientists track historic climate changes.
With several active areas of the cave, which has constant heat and humidity all year, the formations continue to grow.
Just three years ago, lighting of certain shades of orange, blue and green were added, not to enhance the tourist experience, but to combat algae, a threat to the cave that was introduced when it was opened in the 1970s to tourists, who changed the cave’s carbon dioxide levels. The idea is that photosynthesis won’t occur if LED lights in limited colors, as opposed to traditional white lights, are used in the cave, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
“Just by opening the cave, we changed it and hurt it, so we’re always thinking about what’s best ecologically for the cave,” Tomer Saragusti, manager of the Soreq Cave Nature Reserve told the Times. “And it’s working. The cave is still alive and growing.”