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Chile

HMS NORFOLK
BFPO 344

At Sea - Off West Falkland

16 March 1994

I am currently serving onboard HMS NORFOLK.  One of the Royal Navy¬ís Type 23 Frigates.  During our South Atlantic patrol we visited Punta Arenas in Chile for a short stand off.

In the course of this visit I was able to take a two day expedition to the Torres del Paine National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty the Patagonian Andes (famous world-wide for the imposing Towers which the park its name).

During the visit to the park I made a brief visit to the Cueva del Milodon (Caves of Milodon) a show cave which I found to contain a number of fascinating speleological features.

The cave was formed by the erosive action of glacial melt-water on the conglomerate which forms the side wall of a deep U-shaped glacial valley.

As shown on the sketch map below the cave is situated on the side wall of the valley at the point where the glacier snout formed the terminal moraines.  The entrance is about 100 m across and about 30 m high.  The cave floor rises at an angle of about is degrees and two distinct "bedding planes can be seen.  The outermost being the lower (and presumably the more recent watercourse).  Both bedding planes are now choked with loose boulders.   The inner section of the cave is filled with a fine glacial silt which still bears the traces of Ion Age habitation in the form of hut foundations.

Unfortunately the caves touristic value has been 'enhanced' by the addition of a ten foot high fibre-glass Milodon (a prehistoric bear) which has become the focus of the cave with little in the wav of speleological explanation being available from the park wardens.

The cave ceiling has a number of eroded formations.  Most of which have been badly damaged by the smoke from the fires of the caves early inhabitants.

Sketch showing the general topography of the valley.

 

Sketch of plan and elevation views of cave