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GESS LAB in Mangalia, Romania, was built out of passion for the underground world by a team of dedicated cavers, explorers and scientists. Their thirst for knowledge and their desire to protect an extreme environment have contributed invaluable information and knowledge to the fields of speleology in general and cave biology in particular over the past 30+ years .

A brief history

Groundbreaking for GESS Lab, 1993

It's the year 1986 and the government conducts geological surveys on the Black Sea coast, near the town of Mangalia, to determine a suitable spot for building a new power plant. They drill a number of deep boreholes and, as fate would have it, one of them pierces through the ceiling of a small cave. Luckily, they contact the "Emil Racovitza" Institute for Speleology, who sends in one of its geologists with a strong interest in karst systems to investigate. The geologist's name is Cristian Lascu. The small cave is now known as Movile. Thus begins an incredible journey into a whole new world that is fueled not by the sun, but that is based on chemosynthesis and that bursts with life that has evolved apart from outside influence for the past 2.5 million years.

After the discovery of Movile Cave it took a few years for our very determined team to gather funds and to build the Lab. Construction was started in 1993 and was completed a year later. It has since become a place where researchers from around the world come to study either the extraordinary conditions and lifeforms that thrive in Movile Cave or to conduct other scientific studies in this area that is rich with sulfur springs and wells, peat bogs and lakes. 

An important part of our activities at the Lab focuses on the protection of natural areas and on environmental education. Most of our team members are scuba divers and that is another area that has set us apart from other groups and organizations concerned with the exploration and conservation of caves, cave systems and their related troglo- and stygo-fauna. 

Our in-house scientists have made major discoveries and have written numerous articles for prestigious scientific journals (Science Magazine, American Journal of Science, Journal of Molecular Evolution, etc.). One of our scholars, Radu Popa, participated in the Mars Exploration Program at NASA pursuant

to his research in Movile Cave.

Our Lab frequently hosts visiting scientists from around the globe.

Through their efforts and those of our own researchers, new discoveries are made on a regular basis in Movile Cave and the surrounding area.

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