Boletín de la Sociedad Venezolana de Espeleología
versión impresa ISSN 0583-7731
Bol. Soc. Venezolana Espel. v.40 Caracas dic. 2006
The 40th issue of the Boletín de la Sociedad Venezolana de Espeleología marks 40 years of uninterrupted publication, 40 years since the creation of the SVE, and 55 years of national speleology. This 40th anniversary of the Society and of its bulletin well deserves that we dedicate a good number of its pages to the main achievements accomplished throughout its history, noting the advancement of knowledge about the caverns contained in Venezuela’s subsoil, as well as worthy scientific information on geospeleology, biospeleology, and anthropospeleology.
Just as we gather the main scientific and exploratory accomplishments, we also include a human component, since these achievements have been the result of teamwork, of close cooperation, and exchange among its diverse members and other investigators of the Venezuelan karst. This history has its protagonists, and to them we offer tribute in the present volume.
Venezuela contains many caves, most of them in limestone (classic karst) and in quartzite (karst in siliceous rock, in Venezuelan Guayana). To date, over 700 caverns and simas (vertical caves) have been explored, and without doubt they represent only a portion of what is left to discover.
Thus, a broad horizon is open to all Venezuelan youth and investigators of various disciplines that have both the curiosity and interest to explore our subsoil. Aside from exploratory and topographic activities in caves, there are others focused on anthropology, geology, and biology. The fauna in Venezuelan caverns is notable for its biodiversity and biomass, with species unique in the world given their biological and ecological qualities. It is also worth noting the diversity of speleothems and secondary minerals found in caves and the many sites of ethnological, anthropological, and paleontological interest. We will cover all of these themes, summarizing what is known to date and including references of historical importance regarding the character of the many expeditions throughout the years.
The SVE bulletin is an internationally recognized publication, particularly within Latin America and the Neotropics. Few speleological journals have enjoyed the continuity, quality in content, and frequency in publication, especially given the fact that its content is both reviewed and indexed in the most relevant data indices on the topic around the world. The section of the Catastro (cadastre) of the bulletin presents in an orderly fashion the caves that have been sequentially studied in Venezuela, including location, description, and a detailed map. In many cases the work of the SVE has been primary source of data on species new to science, as well as information leading to discoveries of archaeological sites, detailed knowledge of karst areas, or to aid in the creation of National Parks and other protected areas of great natural and cultural value.
Without further a due, we will allow the special issue of the SVE and its bulletin’s 40th anniversary to speak for itself with its content structured among various articles and thematic summaries. We hope that it will become an important source of reference to new generations that wish to know the development of speleology in the country. This issue also includes the digital compilation, including photographs, of some of the most important caves of Venezuela, as well numerous bibliographic references. The Editorial Commission specially wants to thank Rafael Carreño, Joris Lagarde, and Carlos Tinoco for their photographic contributions. The bulletin also includes images of the Society’s archives and of other members.
This edition also pays homage to the generations of speleologists that have contributed to the collective effort, over 55 years, of advancing the knowledge of Venezuela’s caverns. Some of them are no longer among us, but they remain in our memory tinged with love and admiration. Many of them defined the scientific character of the Society, the importance of teamwork, and above all the transcendence of the institution beyond that of the individuals constitute it.