At the very beginning it was an exalting adventure which linked the talents of explorers and scientists. There was a wealth of beauty, all was new and immaculate.Respect for the karst
In his famous work " Abysses ", E.-A. Martel showed in 1894 that matter in decomposition in the heart of an abyss could contaminate sources situated several hundreds of metres, even several kilometres, away. He managed to create a law, called the Martel law, on February 15th, 1902, which forbade the throwing away of dead animals or rotting rubbish.
This law was one of the first in the world to incite people to respect the karst. However it was applied with variable force. Great explorers like A. Bourgin, N. Casteret, G. de Lavaur, B. Gèze and R. de Joly continued to point out the presence of carrion in swallow-holes.
In spite of the sanitary recommendations and progress, it is not unusual, during an exploration to still find some.
Claude Viala's text, President of the French Federation of Speleology, 1996 to 1999.
Extract from "Spelunca Mémoires" n°23, 1997.