Welcome to the official website for the 17th International Congress of Speleology (17th ICS),
Speleo 2017, to be held in Sydney, Australia, in 2017 (23 – 29 July).

Event Overview


The International Union of Speleology (UIS) conducts the International Congress of Speleology (ICS) every 4 years in the host country selected by the General Assembly of delegates from the UIS member Nations.


The next International Congress of Speleology (17th ICS) will be held from 23 to 29 July 2017.


Sydney Australia; The venue selected is the Panthers Event Centre, in the western Sydney suburb of Penrith.


The Australian Speleological Federation Inc (ASF), as the peak caving body in Australia, is honoured to host the 17th ICS in 2017 on behalf of the UIS.

Conference Theme

Caves in an Ancient Land.

Supporting Organisations

ASF is involving other relevant organisations. Supporting organisations are currently Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association Inc (ACKMA) and the New Zealand Speleological Society (NZSS).

Sponsoring Organisations

This congress has the full support of Business Events Sydney and its partners, the New South Wales Government, Destination New South Wales and Sydney.com; Penrith Panthers and the city’s business tourism industry.

Invitation to the 17th ICS in 2017

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It is indeed an honour on behalf of the International Union of Speleology (UIS), the Australian Speleological Federation (ASF) and the 17th ICS Organising Commission, to extend this invitation to people from around the world with the common interest in exploration and study of subterranean caves and karst environments to visit Sydney, Australia, in 2017 for the world’s premier speleological event.

The 17th ICS will showcase speleology in Australasia. Our caves range from the ancient to the modern with caves in rocks from the Precambrian to the Quaternary. There are caves in limestone, dolostone, basalt, granite and sandstone; many are beautifully decorated with calcite, gypsum and halite. They span a spectrum of climates from ‘desert’ caves to wet ‘alpine’ caves. Our caves contain a wealth of paleontological and archaeological material such as the bones of extinct megafauna and evidence of human habitation. Thanks to this diversity, numerous caves have been protected for their intrinsic value in reserves and parks and World Heritage Areas. Many of our caves are accessible to the general public as tourist caves.

Our chosen theme is Caves in an Ancient Land (read more).

We will endeavour to organise and host a most rewarding and friendly congress in the tradition of 68 years of UIS world congresses, unravelling the geological history of the earth’s subterranean world with an interesting and exciting program of the latest speleological investigation and discoveries. This will be in an informal atmosphere so as to foster friendly social interaction.

As the congress will coincide with the southern hemisphere winter many parts of southern Australia will be experiencing cool and damp weather during this period; so come prepared.

The chosen site for the congress is the Penrith Panthers conference centre on the western outskirts of Sydney, an ideal venue. The centre is located on the 80 hectare (198 acre) site in the picturesque Penrith Valley, at the foot of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park and in relatively close proximity to Jenolan Caves, a national treasure of awe-inspiring beauty and scale.

There is a wide range of accommodation from four-star hotels to camping in walking distance of the venue (read more).

Pre and post congress field excursions, both cave camps and excursions are being planned to cave areas in Australia and New Zealand. A series of mid-week field trips are also being planned: Jenolan Caves, the sandstone caves of the Blue Mountains and the coastal areas. Details of the planned trips will be provided in sufficient time in subsequent brochures. As well as the information on the specific pre and post conference trips, there will be extra tourist information on activities that can be organised by individuals.

We recommend you take this opportunity to visit and see Australia, a land of many unique contrasts and friendly atmosphere. Start saving today. We need your personal participation and cooperation to deliver an exciting and world-class congress in 2017.

Denis Marsh
President, Speleo 2017 ICS Organising Commission

Congress Theme

Caves in an Ancient Land

The theme chosen for the Congress captures features of the Australian landscape as evident in its caves and karst. Proterozoic dolomites (1.4 – 1.8 billion years old) in Australia had not been explored by speleologists until 25 years ago but have now been shown to have significant caves. Jenolan Caves are rightly celebrated as beautiful and one of the first tourist caves to be electrically lit. More recent discoveries at Jenolan demonstrate their antiquity. Carbonate dunes less than 250,000 years old on the southern coast contain much younger caves several kilometres in length.

Karst research in Australia has been rejuvenated with the application of many new techniques. Extended dating methods show that there are Nullarbor speleothems up to 10 million years old. At Chillagoe in North Queensland, detailed studies of speleothems have been done which correlate cyclone (hurricane or typhoon) events in the past 100 years with contemporary historical accounts of damage in coastal areas. The frequency of such events are important in understanding climate patterns and frequency of such events and to manage their risks. Other studies from southern Australia and New Zealand are elaborating climate histories for comparison with the Northern Hemisphere climate records.

The original descriptions of the marsupial megafauna of Australia were from cave deposits from Wellington, NSW by Sir Richard Owen in the nineteenth century. Caves continue to provide bones to elaborate this history. The Nullarbor caves have had megafauna dated at 3.5 million years belonging to animals reliant on trees no longer present. The World Heritage Area at Naracoorte Caves in South Australia has also contributed to these paleontological studies. The marsupial megafauna is now better known from the study of cave deposits.

These themes of modern speleological study will form part of the Seminar program at the Congress and will be integrated with other exciting new areas of speleological investigation across the world.

Come back soon for more updates, or subscribe for email updates.

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