|Location:||Moulis, Ariège. 110km south of Toulouse. From St Bosoms (Ariège) follow D618 to Castillon.|
Researchers: All year daily 8-12, 14-18.
Visitors: All year Tue, Thu 14-17.
|Address:||Laboratoire souterrain CNRS de Moulis, F-09200 St Girons. Tel: +33-561-040360, Fax: +33-561-960851. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1952||cave laboratory built.|
The Laboratoire souterrain C.N.R.S. de Moulis is a scientific laboratory located in a natural cave in St Girons, called Grotte de Moulis. Behind a massive door at the slopes of an hill, which is secured with a modern lock, lies a 50m long artificial tunnel, which leads into the cave. The first 500m of the cave are developed as a labaoratory, with trails, tables aquariums and other laboratory equipment.
Moulis is a place of intensive research about the olm (Proteus anguins). This colourless amphibian originates from the Dinaric karst, but while this area was behind the Iron Courtain as it lied in Yugoslavia, the western centre of proteus research lied here. Since the mid 1950s the laboratory specialized on this animal. And actually it is still a leading institution on proteus research. Especially as this laboratory is one of the few places where the animal was breeded successfully. Today the laboratory has about 500 living specimens.
Other topics of scientific research in the underground laboratory are several other troglobiont species, for example the springtail, a tiny insect which feeds on biogene material in the ground water and thus cleans the water. Another example is a local mole called desman, which lives on the banks of underground rivers. The laboratory has artificial underground rivers for such studies. A rather recent topic of research is the impact of water pollution on the habitat cave and the ground water.