Support Puerto Princesa Underground River

By ELLALYN B. DE VERA
November 9, 2011, 1:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — An Italian expedition team discovered three new cave minerals inside the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Palawan, considered as another reason to declare the UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the Seven New Wonders of Nature in the world.

As this developed, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse M. Robredo and Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward S. Hadegorn are rallying the full support of all Filipinos to vote for the inclusion of the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) in the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

The discovery of new minerals called serrabrancaite, robertsite, and janggunite was confirmed by renowned crystallographer Dr. Paolo Forti, a member of the Italian La Venta Geographical Association, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said.

He said the expedition team has been conducting expeditions at the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

Paje noted that the serrabrancaite, which was extracted from the Australians’ Inlet of the Underground River, has never been found before in caves although it has been previously found only in Serra Branca, Brazil.

Its formation is mostly induced by the mineralization of bat or seabird droppings known as “guano.”

“Cave experts themselves are amazed because only few caves in the world host more than three to four minerals yet in the Puerto Prince Underground River alone, they have unearthed at least 11, of which three are new cave minerals,” Paje said.

The eight previously known cave minerals discovered inside the Puerto Princesa Underground River were calcite, gypsum, apatite, variscite, strengite, manganite, rodocrosite, and pirolusite.

Paje said the discovery of minerals inside the Underground River is yet another reason why the Puerto Princesa Underground River deserves to be one of the Seven New Wonders of Nature.

Aside from these minerals, the Underground River represents one of the largest and most important underground estuaries in the world; hosts one of the most complex cave systems; has the natural capacity to offset the effects of high-impact tourism; contains unique formations from secondary mineral deposits not found elsewhere; and hosts cave formations that allow scientists to conduct studies in understanding the earth’s evolution.

The DENR chief also pointed out that the 20-million-year-old fossilized remains of a sea cow or sirenia have also been found embedded in perfect condition in the cave’s walls. (With a report by Czarina Nicole Ong)

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