Journey Into Amazing Caves

Synopsis: Meet Dr. Hazel Barton and Nancy Aulenbach. These women are compelled to push their limits in hostile environments. They are cavers who risk fatal danger for the thrill of discovery. Barton and Aulenbach are extreme athletes and extreme scientists - scientists who gather their data in treacherous places where few dare to follow. In Journey Into Amazing Caves they travel to caves in Arizona, Greenland and Mexico searching for discoveries that may lead to cures for human disease.
Director(s): Stephen Judson
Production: MacGillivray Freeman Films
  1 win.
 
IMDB:
6.9
Rotten Tomatoes:
80%
NOT RATED
Year:
2001
39 min
Website
11 Views

Our universe seems

a barren place ...

full of extreme conditions

hostile to living things.

Our own planet has such

extreme environments.

Places where, until recently,

we believed nothing could survive.

Yet life is tenacious if

it can just get a foothold.

We call the tiny organisms living in

such inhospitable places extremophiles ...

microbes which thrive in

the harshest of conditions.

Caves, long dismissed as

dark and lifeless deserts,

turn out to be ideal homes

for these hardy life forms.

Their scientific

potential appears vast.

This underground frontier ...

holds an irresistible attraction

for two courageous young women.

The Arizona desert,

bone-dry and scorching-hot.

Perfect for extremophiles.

Nancy Aulenbach and Hazel Barton ...

are part of a small team

exploring unmapped caves ...

near the Grand Canyon.

The rest of the team,

Gordon Brown and Scott Davis,

search for other caves.

Hazel and Nancy are almost certainly

the first cavers to explore this cave.

To get here they rappeled

Nancy Aulenbach from Georgia is

the team's technical specialist.

As an instructor in

cave rescue techniques,

Nancy's rope skills

are finely honed.

At 98 pounds, she is well suited for

rescuing cavers stuck in very tight places.

In unexplored caves

we always do surveys.

Later my husband will use our data to

draw the very first map of this cave.

He is a caver.

In fact, I come from an

entire family of cavers.

Hazel Barton, a native of

England has a PhD in Microbiology.

I found crystals which

only form in still water.

This cave probably formed

millions of years ago.

While Nancy studies the cave

wall with a magnifying glass,

Hazel collects samples

of tiny organisms ...

which could help cure

serious diseases.

You are never sure what speck of dust

might contain the secret to a new medicine ...

that could save lives.

Often, the most dangerous part of

exploring caves is just getting to them.

Gordon will vouch for that.

What turns this river so

blue is dissolved limestone.

The limestone is

gradually re-deposited ...

to form travertine dams ...

which are first cousins to

the stalagmites we see in caves.

All this blue water and travertine ...

is visible proof that caves

are forming upstream right now.

I got time-off from my job

as a teacher's assistant ...

because I promised to e-mail field

reports back to my second-grade students.

Here is how Hazel described her

research to my second-graders:

The tiny organisms called

microbes that live in caves ...

might contain special chemicals

that we could make medicine from.

You know caves are not

only a place to visit,

they are a place where you

can do a lot of research,

you can survey, you can

do biological inventories,

you can find new species that

people have never seen before.

I look for medically useful

organisms everywhere,

even in scum ponds,

after all a rather useful

medicine called penicillin ...

was found in the same mould

that grows on rotting cheese.

You know, just collecting some more

boogers, the smellier the better.

While we were on Navajo land,

Nancy and I heard

about a medicine man ...

making a sand painting.

Through these sand paintings,

the Navajo believe that they can tap

into the healing powers of the earth.

Of course that's what I do too,

I go deep into the earth

in search of unknown cures.

We are using kayaks

on this expedition ...

because the river is

a good vantage point ...

for spotting unexplored

caves on the cliff walls.

As my husband, Brent, says,

"if you aren't wet

you aren't caving".

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Jack Stephens

Jack Stephens is the name of: Jack Stephens (American football) (born 1939), American former football coach Jack Stephens (basketball) (1933–2011), American basketball player Jack Stephens (cricketer) (1913-1967), Australian cricketer Jack Stephens (footballer) (born 1994), English footballer Jack Stephens (musician) (born 1988), English alternative rock drummer and record producer Jack Stephens (set decorator) (active 1949–1986), Bangladeshi set decorator Jackson T. Stephens (1923–2005), American businessman Jack Stephens (The Inbetweeners), minor character in British sitcom Inbetweeners more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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