Extended abstract/short paper
for the international conference
Climate Change: The Karst Record (4th ed.)

Velika ledena jama in Paradana
Conservation of Nature

Daniel Rojšek
Zavod Republike Slovenije za varstvo narave/
The Institute of RS for Nature Conservation
Območna enota Nova Gorica/Regional Unit Nova Gorica
Delpinova 16
SI-5000 Nova Gorica

KEY WORDS: underground glacier, climate change, the Paradana nature reserve, Velika ledena jama (Big Ice Cave) in Paradana, conservation of nature, Trnovski gozd - upland or high karst massif, Republika Slovenija - Republic of Slovenia, Europe.

The Velika ledena jama (Big Ice Cave) is one of the most important parts of the Paradana Nature Reserve, covering an area of 18 ha (1230-1099 m above sea level in the surface, 565 m above sea level in the underground, λ=45° 59' 17", φ=13° 50' 57"). It's name derives from the area where fog often appears under Golaki (1495 m -1480 m), the highest summits of Trnovski gozd karst massif.

There is an extremely rich natural heritage within the reserve. One which could be classified as rare even on a universal scale.

The most important point of interest of the reserve is the intermingling of superficial and underground karst with the remains of glacial activity and also temperature and vegetation inversions. At an altitude difference of around hundred meters the following belts occur (first described in 1906 by V. M. Beck): fir-beech ( Abieti - Fagetum dinaricum), spruce (Piceetum subalpinum dinaricum), willow-tree (Salicetum appendiculatae), dwarf-trees and mountainous grass, mosses, snow and glacier in the entrance to the cave system. Deeper inside the cave system the ice is no longer present; approximately every hundred meters the temperature rises by one degree Celsius.

The Paradana cave system consists of three caves: Velika Ledena jama (650 m deep, more than 4 km long;
(Figure 1 Original drawing or painting (blackink and watercolour) of the Velika ledena jama entrance part groundplan
Figure 2, longitudinal profile of the same cave, both by Pavel Kunaver, 1917)
Mala Ledena jama (Small Ice Cave, 65 m deep and 125 m long) and the so-called Jama pri Mali Ledeni jami (Cave near Small Ice Cave, 25 m deep and 235 m long, all data from M., Nagode, 2002). The connection among the caves has not been discovered, yet. Morever, cavers have not yet discovered the bottom of the cave system. The variety of the different passages some in the top part covered by ice, others iceless, shafts, ox-bow passages and sharply turning channels with strong draughts is very interesting. The ice table fluctuation is considerable, sometimes the passages into iceless parts of the system are completely blocked.

Surface part of the glacier in the Vhodna dvorana - Entrance Hall of the Velika ledena jama lowered for about 1 m in last five years. Also a pothole opened in the eastern part below the Grlo - Throat (low passage and step between the Vhodna and the Velika ledena dvorana - Entrance and Big Ice Hall in 2002 (Photograph 1: View from the Velika ledena dvorana through the Grlo and the entrance part to steep scree at the surface).

Thousands of cubic meters of the cave ice was extracted and exported wideaway (to Egypt even), from the second half of the 19th century up to 1963, but the ice renewed regularly. The natural ice table fluctuation is considerable in last four decades, sometimes the passage from Vhodna and Velika ledena dvorana is closed even.

On 23rd December, 2004 survey of underground glacier with georadar SIR 2000 by GSSI (USA, http://www.geophysical.com/) was done http://dar.zrsvn.si/d/sli/jsp/23_dec_2004/index_en.html, and results of the survey would be presented at the IVth International Conference Climate Change: the Karst Record.

Glaciokarst depression and caves in Paradana were proclaimed natural monuments and area around them nature reserve by old commune of Nova Gorica in 1985. Entrance part of the big ice cave was opened for public by Turistično društvo Lokve - local tourist club in 1987.
Members of the club made new path across the belts of mountainous grass, mosses and snow to the glacier. New path with staircase was finished in 1988 after hard negotiations between the club and the institute for conservation of cultural and natural heritage.
The main actual problem is enlarged erosion at belts of the willow-tree, the dwarf-trees and mountainous grass caused by thousand of visitors, because there is only one path at steep scree with big rocks. The scree is not consolidated, so stones and rocks glide down periodically. Small rockfall in autumn of the year 2004 and regular avalanches in the winter 2004/2005 destroyed staircase at the entrance.
New design and construction of staircase after the design from the belt of the spruce through the willow-trees, the dwarf-trees, the mountainous grass and the length to the entrance hall in the length of around 150 m and height of 30 m is the best solution for discontinuation of the erosion of the scree, becouse proclamation of strict nature reserve and closing of show cave is not possible.

In the Paradana nature reserve there is an extremely rich natural heritage. One which could be classified as rare even on a universal scale.
The tourist club is financially not strong enough to cover expenses of design and construction of new staircase, which is urgently needed.
A lot of work should be done for regulation of human impact in the entrance part of the Velika ledena jama, for example:
* a concession contract between the Republic of Slovenia, which owns land of the reserve and the caves and financially enough strong managing organisation should be signed, but the organisation should be found before.
* remote monitoring of human impact and natural processes would be expensive and not easy, because there is electric current 5 km away and mountainous landscape in not good for GSM or FM transmissions of data from sensors and cameras at the reserve to the receivers at Nova Gorica or Lokve, the nearest town and village.

A proposal for discussion in the Conference,
very simple questions are -
- is oscillation of ice on the top of the cave glacier only a natural phenomenon or
- are underground glaciers natural indicators of climate change ?

But, answers on the questions are not simple.

V. M., Beck, 1906; Umkehrung der Pflanzenregionen in den Dolinen des Karstes, Sitzungsber. K. Akad. Wiss. in Wien-Math. naturw. Kl. Bd CVI, Wien.
I., Gams Ed, 1973; Slovenska kraška terminologija - Slovene Karst Terminiology, (with Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, English, German and Franch terms), Ljubljna.
I., Gams, 1974; Kras - Karst, pp 1-360, Ljubljana, Slovenska matica.
I., Gams, 2004; Kras v Sloveniji v prostoru in času - Kras of Slovenia in space and time, pp 1-515, Ljubljana, Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU.
P., Habič, 1968; Kraški svet med Idrijco in Vipavo - The karstic region between the Idrijca and Vipava rivers, pp 1-244, Ljubljana, Slovenska akademija znanosti in umetnosti.
P., Kunaver, 1917, Velika ledena jama v Paradani (Big Ice Cave in Paradana) original groundplan and longitudinal profile of the entrance part, blackink, watercolour, archive of IZRK ZRC SAZU, Postojna. A., Mihevc, I. Gams, 1979, Nova odkritja v Veliki Ledenici v Paradani (kat. št. 742) - New discoveries in Velika ledena jama v Paradani (Cave Cad. No. 742), in Naše jame, Vol 20, pp 7-20, Ljubljana, Jamarska zveza Slovenije.
M., Nagode, 2002; Najnovejše raziskave Velike ledenice v Paradani in jam ob njej - The newest discoveries of the Velika ledena jama v Paradani and adjacent caves, in Naše jame, Vol 44, pp 98-105, Ljubljana, Jamarska zveza Slovenije.
M., Nagode, 2002; Led v Veliki ledenici v Paradani - Ice in the Velika ledena jama v Paradani, in Naše jame, Vol 44, pp 106-112, Ljubljana, Jamarska zveza Slovenije.
D., Rojšek, 1994; Inventarisation of the Natural Heritage, Acta carsologica, Vol 23, No: 9, pp 112-121, Ljubljana.
D., Rojšek, 1995; The western Visoki kras of Slovenia - A park ?, in Cave and Karst Science, Vol 21 (3), pp 93 - 96, ISBN 1356 191X.
D., Rojšek, 2002; Inventarisation of Natural Heritage, enlighten by geoecological model of kras/karst, in F., Carrasco, J. J., Durán and B., Andreo ur/Eds, Karst and Environment, Proc. of the 2nd geol. symp. Cueva de Nerja, pp 267-272, Nerja-Malaga, Instituto de Investigación pri/at Fundación Cueva de Nerja.
D., Rojšek, 2002-2005; The Conservation of Nature - characteristical photos of selected case study: Velika ledena jama in Paradana, http://dar.zrsvn.si/d/pvd/cpnrp.html.
E., Silvestru, V. Boghean, 1992; Ultrasonic investigations on the underground fossil glacier in the cave Ghe*tarul de la Sc*ari*soara, Trav. Inst. Speol. "Emile Racovita", Vol 31, pp 151-155.

Figure 1. Groundplan of the Velika ledena jama entrance part by Pavel Kunaver, 1917.
Figure 2. Longitudinal profile of the Velika ledena jama entrance part by Pavel Kunaver, 1917.
Photograph 1. View from the Velika ledena dvorana through the Grlo the entrance part to steep scree in the surface), Daniel Rojšek, 2002-2005:
THE CONSERVATION OF NATURE - - characteristical photos of selected case study: Velika ledena jama v Paradani.

Prepared by Daniel Rojšek 20th Jan., 2006.     
Your comments are welcome.

Date of last change: 20th Januray, 2006.

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