Gouffre Jean-Bernard

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Gouffre Jean-Bernard
Location Samoëns
Coordinates 46°6′6″N 6°46′50″E / 46.10167°N 6.78056°E / 46.10167; 6.78056Coordinates: 46°6′6″N 6°46′50″E / 46.10167°N 6.78056°E / 46.10167; 6.78056
Depth 1,602 m (5,256 ft)[1]
Length 20,506 metres (12.742 mi)[1]
Discovery 1963
Geology Cretaceous limestone
Entrances about 13
Cave survey Group Volcain

Gouffre Jean-Bernard or Réseau Jean Bernard, sometimes known simply as Jean Bernard, is one of the deepest known caves in the world. It is found in the Alps, in Samoëns, France. The first entrance to the cave was found by the French caving group Groupe Vulcain in 1963.[2] More entrances have been found over the years since, and currently at least thirteen are known. The highest entrance, known as C37, is at 2,274 m above sea level.[3] The cave is named after Jean Dupont and Bernard Raffy, two Groupe Vulcain members who died in 1963 in an unrelated expedition.[4]


Exploration of the cave began shortly after discovery in 1963. By 1969, the cave had been explored to a depth of 623 metres (2,044 ft) below the level of the highest entry point.[2] At that point, further exploration was blocked by a water-filled tunnel.

Subsequently, another entrance was discovered that had passages that bypassed the flooded tunnel. The cave was explored to 938 m (3,077 ft) before again becoming blocked, this time by fallen rocks.[2] In 1976, these rocks were removed, allowing explorers to descend to 1,298 m (4,259 ft); at the time, that made it the second-deepest known cave, although it has since been surpassed.[2]

More recent explorations have found it to be approximately 1,602 m (5,256 ft) deep, making it the sixth-deepest cave in the world.[4][5]


  1. ^ a b Gulden, Bob. "World's Deepest Caves". Caver Bob's Website. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d Scheffel, Richard L.; Wernet, Susan J., eds. (1980). Natural Wonders of the World. United States of America: Reader's Digest Association, Inc. p. 191. ISBN 0-89577-087-3. 
  3. ^ "gouffre Jean-Bernard coupe" (PDF). groupe-speleo-vulcain. Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Patton, Michael (2009). "Caving in the French Alps" (PDF). Arkansas Underground: 8–15 – via caves.org. 
  5. ^ Le gouffre Jean-Bernard, 1602 m: Samoens/Haute-Savoie/France : record du monde de profondeur. Groupe Vulcain. 1991. ISBN 9782741700319.