Lombrives Cave: It’s D-Day, we declare “Deep Time”, the experience that will plunge 15 people underground for 40 days

The essentials A team of 15 people will live in the Lombrives cave in Ariège for 40 days. Objective: to better understand how people adapt to a limited environment, to prepare their future on earth or in space. On D-Day, Sunday March 14th, all Deep Time teams are on deck to begin this journey to the center of the earth in the 21st century.

If the French still fear a third detention to fight the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, others in Ariège are preparing to experience fully voluntary detention on a world first, a scientific expedition. Indeed, it is on this Sunday March 14th at 8pm that the Deep Time experience in Ussat begins in the Lombrives Cave. For 40 days, a team of 7 men and 7 women, led by the French-Swiss researcher Christian Clot, plunged into the depths of the earth to stay there for 40 days.

What does this experience consist of?

The aim of this scientific and human adventure, the idea of ​​which was born during the pandemic, is to answer three main questions: How to deal with disorientation when we are exposed to a completely new situation … like the 2020 limits? How does our brain design and manage time, apart from indicators? And finally, how does a human group manage to synchronize and function together under completely new living conditions?

To this end, the group of 15 people who will be immersed in Lombrives Cave will conduct specific explorations and work by subgroups from “advanced camps” in six key scientific areas. Cognition (the flagship program for evaluating the way the brain perceives time and its developments in the face of a new real situation), epigenetics (study of reversible changes in the activity of genes), psychology and psychiatry (study of the effects of fatigue , the perception of oneself and others …), chronobiology (with the study of sleep and general physiology), ethology and sociology (the study of the spatial development of individuals in the group, leadership …) and finally ecology and Geography (the study of climate (the influence of nearby environments on our adaptability).

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The various experiments that are carried out in the Lombrives Cave. DDM – Philippe Rioux

What is it used for specifically?

All data measured during the 40 days and after returning to the surface are of direct interest to several areas.

The first, of course, is space. At a time when lunar base construction is taking shape over the next four years and long-term space missions with Mars in view, it is important to understand how humans adapt to long-term isolation.

The results of Deep Time will also be of interest to defense, for example for long submarine missions, but also for companies (mines, tunnel boring machines, offshore platform) and civil society, both for the borders that we are currently removing have, as well as for. Preparation of the habitats of tomorrow (underground, submarines) in the event of severe climatic disturbances.

Who is the Deep Time Team?

The small group of 15 people, which includes very different profiles, scientists, psychologists, doctors or even a nurse, jeweler or math teacher, will learn to live together and each of its members will perform very specific tasks.

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The 15 members of the “Deep Time” adventure

Also read: Deep Time D-5: Who are the 14 adventurers who will live 400 meters underground in Ariège for 40 days?

On the surface, the group is continuously monitored by around 30 people, including nine research managers (neurobiologists, psychologists, chronobiologists, ethologists, etc.), a logistics team and three technical advisers for caving. “Equipped with sensors, with the latest research tools, the participants conduct a comprehensive and rigorous study protocol to evaluate how their brain and body manage and create a new time synchronization, a new space and a new society,” the organizers explain Expedition has been extensively prepared upstream and will ensure the scientific monitoring of each member downstream after leaving the group.

How did this project come about?

“For years I had been thinking about an immersive cave mission that had no access to time and light. I felt that my adaptation studies had something to do with it, especially since no study had been done before. ‘This wasn’t really about the human brain,’ explains Christian Clot, who founded the Institute for Human Adaptation eight years ago.

Christian Clot DDM

It was triggered by the Covid-19 epidemic, which restricted millions of people around the world, and more precisely the Covadapt study, which showed that more than 40% of people in France and in several countries around the world have lost blood. “In an extreme context, a new way of life, we as a group obviously didn’t know very well how to react to the effects of these changes. The Deep Time project was born,” says Christian Clot, who wants his expedition “For the first time in the world in a group to understand our ability to understand time, cognitive synchronization, the organization of a group in the most opposite system to ours: a world without access to time! “

Depth time: 40 days in the cave of Lombrives Bruno Mazodier

The project quickly seduced the scientific world before intriguing the general public and media around the world. Deep Time is therefore supported by around twenty research institutes and laboratories in France, Switzerland, Europe and China, including CNES and Inserm.

What does the installation in the cave look like?

All that was left was to find the ideal cave to conduct the experiment. The Lombrives Cave, the largest in Europe, has established itself with its large volumes that allow a perfect installation of living areas, relaxation areas and scientific areas.

La Dépêche invites you to discover the map of the cave and the installations through an infographic (click on the image to enlarge it).

Map of the Lombrives Cave DDM – Philippe Rioux

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