Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

Nat Geo Cave Explorer Kenny Broad at Squaw April 10

Posted on March 29, 2012
Filed Under North Tahoe Events

Take a deep breath and join veteran cave explorer Kenny Broad on a harrowing expedition into some of the most dangerous and scientifically significant places on Earth on April 10th at Resort at Squaw Creek as the monthly Squaw Valley Institute guest speaker starting at 7pm.

Drawing on his expeditions from around the world, Broad offers an exciting and humorous, yet research-based, set of recommendations for assessing risk and making wise choices in life and business.

In 2011, Broad was named “National Geographic’s Explorer of the Year,” for his extraordinary achievements in documenting the Blue Holes of the Bahamas. The lecture begins at 7pm with tickets starting at $10 per member.

In Kenny Broad’s line of work, exploring submerged caves and blue holes, one mistake can equal death. He and his team must take every precaution to avoid such dangers as stirring up sediments that can wipe out visibility, succumbing to nausea as they pass through a toxic layer of hydrogen sulfide, or getting lost in maze-like passageways with a limited supply of diving gasses.

The need to study blue holes is urgent, as they are among the least studied and most threatened habitats on Earth. Over 90 percent of the Earth’s unfrozen fresh water is in underground aquifers. These systems are a source of drinking water for locals, boast a unique biodiversity of microbial and multicellular life that shed light on the evolution of life, and, due to their unique water chemistry, perfectly preserve skeletal remains of long extinct species, including humans. Cave formations such as stalagmites can be used to reconstruct climate as the Earth passed in and out of the ice ages, allowing us to better judge the rates and possible impacts of modern changes in climate.

These cave systems—with their reversing tides—can transition from giant rooms to narrow holes that divers must remove all of their gear in order to squeeze through.

“You can’t send a remotely operated vehicle in to explore caves because the technology simply doesn’t exist,” he says. “It’s one of the few environments left on the planet where you must physically go to learn about it. It’s great for job security.”

An entertaining and witty presenter, Broad’s work combines the study of risk perception, exploration, and environmental anthropology. His interdisciplinary training includes an M.A. in marine affairs and policy from the University of Miami and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. He is currently a professor in the University of Miami’s Division of Marine Affairs and Policy and is director of the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. He is also a co-director of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University. Broad has led or participated in extreme scientific and filmmaking expeditions on every continent—from urban jungles to the deepest caves on the planet—to gather information and samples that shed light on little-known environmental and cultural subjects. He was elected a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2006, a Fellow National of the Explorers Club in 2009, and was selected as the 2011 National Geographic Explorer of the Year. His work was featured as the cover story of the August 2010 issue of National Geographic.

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