Martel and the Bramabiau: the chasm devouring humans

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The chasm - ©Jmp48 / CC-BY-SA The chasm - ©Jmp48 / CC-BY-SA
Bramabiau chasm Natural cavity Accident Exploration Edouard-Alfred Martel

A mooing ox!

Once upon a time a stream known as Bonheur (″Happiness″): its source is in the mont Aigoual. In Camprieu, it goes inside the causse… after a 1 kilometre travel, it goes out again by a little crack and flows into a cirque.

When the water of the Bonheur is full of rain water, it goes out by the crack with a weird sound, which gave it its name: bramabiau, the ″mooing ox″ in Languedocian!

The story

Martel did it again!

The famous speleologist Martel discovered the chasm for the first time, on June 27th and 28th 1888. And Bramabiau will cause them trouble, he and his friends: they found 7 kilometres of underground galleries!

A man-eater chasm

Martel doubted, in the beginning: was it really prudent, to make an expedition here? Local people told him they tried expeditions, in the past, but, because of the water’s crash and the darkness, they turned back. They even told them that birds lost themselves in the chasm: they only found a little heap of feathers, after, at the chasm’s exit!

Not to mention all the suicides and accidents, all the bodies who disappeared inside… Like a man named Vidal: on February 7th 1888, he vanished next to the chasm. People thought the Bramabiau was his grave… because his corpse never came back!

But when Martel came in June 1888, he was bothered by a smell of a rotten body… Vidal’s one? Anyway, they discovered a man’s last remains few months after...

The exploration

Brr! Scary! But Martel didn’t lose countenance and decided to go see by himself. With about 10 men (including a friend of him, Louis Armand, the one who found the famous aven Armand), he came down in the dark depths of the Bramabiau...

The exploration’s report, told in Martel’s book Les Cévennes et la région des Causses, says: they entered with their boat by the chasm’s exit. They crossed 2 underground cascades.

But at that place, a third cascade was impassable for the boat. The next day, they tried to come down the cascades, at 8AM. At 10AM, they get to the underground river.

There, they had to walk in the water. The walk was long, difficult, hard, but they finally reached the place where they stopped with the boat, the day before. One hour after, they went out, out in the open. You know what? This exploration is the speleology’s birth certificate!

The visit of Bramabiau

The visit lasts about 1 hour. Inside, the temperature is between 8°C and 10°C! All the year… And now we enter in the chasm. After an amazing gallery, here’s the Big Aven. Then, the Martel Gallery, the Pas du Diable, the Small Maze, the Star Room…

There’s water everywhere, but don’t forget the gorgeous concretions… and the dinosaurs’ footprints! Whoa, we feel very small, here, far from modern life… Back to a primitive era, so wild! Water sound is everywhere, a real mooing! Inside, Martel used to talk about a real racket, a big roar.

And also!