visite en nacelle du gouffre de proumeyssac
logo gouffre de proumeyssac
In the very beginning, approximately 200 million years ago, our Périgord did not exist: the combined waters of what would later become the Mediterranean sea and the Atlantic ocean covered France almost entirely -or at least, what would one day become France! Then, the Earth's crust, disrupted by the fire of its depths, folded and buckled, forming the Pyrenees and the Alps. These new lands gradually pushed back the waters, revealing the sedimentary layers formed at the bottom of the sea by the terrestrial rocks, sands and carcases of dead fish, crustaceans and shells, inhabitants of the deep sea. Crushed and packed, all of this makes up the great limestone plateau on which the Périgord would one day be established.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves though; we have not reached that point yet! We must "let time take its course" and let the water do its work. For it was at that time (let's say: 100 million years ago), that water began to flow and create the stream beds that would become great rivers! And for each of them to form its valley. The sun was shining, water was flowing, and the great cycle was underway. The small drop of water evaporates and joins its fellow drops of water; together they form beautiful clouds. But because it is cold, they condense and fall back to Earth having filled up on carbon dioxide! There, through the plants that have started to grow, they accumulate acid (imide), and seek the cracks in the limestone blocks, which they torment and wear, slipping into the fractures that have been formed. Along the way, they pick up calcium carbonate, and continue sapping, hollowing out galleries and even chasms! For the tormented limestone blocks collapse and pile up at the bottom, forming a kind of floor.

The water continues its game: the drops slide down the roof and walls of the cave and fall, but not without displaying their lacemaking talents along the way. Stalactites (the ones that hang), stalagmites (the ones that point up), draperies, soda straws (as fine as hair), helictites (projections that grow in all different directions), pearls, concretions, all of these wonders are the result of calcium carbonate that has been deposited by water over the centuries!

Hidden from Man, for a long, long time, in the darkness of the Gouffre de Proumeyssac, water has sculpted an extraordinary cathedral of crystal.