Efforts to preserve prehistoric paintings at Pha Taem start

  • Test
Officials from the Department of Mineral Resources of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment have inspected  PhaTaem national park in Khong Chiem district of Ubon Ratchathani province recently to carry out geological tests in the areas surrounding the prehistoric drawings on the cliff  in order to prevent damages from rock slides.

The Pha Taem cliff is an important historical site of the country which Thailand will soon propose it as a world’s heritage site.

The inspection came after a rockslide at Pha Krathang escarpment which is only six kilometres away from Pha Taem cliff.

Fears that a similar occurrence could irreparably damage the ancient drawings forced the department to rush in officials to carry out tests, said Mr Tassaporn Nuchanong, acting director general of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

According to him, these colored prehistoric drawings at Pha Taem cliff  had been drawn on sandstone rocks which are immensely hard and strong.

The shale that is immediately below which is supporting them however is comparatively weak and signs of erosion have been detected in them.

So far the geologists estimate that there is no immediate risk of either rockslide or landslide, he said.

Initial investigation shows no visible cracks on the drawings themselves.

Small cracks however have been detected along the path we took which will be tested in detail by our geologists, he said.

But this was still insure until a complete and thorough check is made, he added.

In order to come up with effective measures to prevent rockslides, the geologists plan to carry out intensive tests to ascertain the composition of the geological structure at and in the areas surrounding the prehistoric paintings.

Data received from these tests will then be used to determine the risk of possible rockslide.

Thus far tests have been made on the first of 4 groups of the paintings.

Nimit Sornklang, the director of the Second Region Department of Mineral Resources of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said the inspection began with a detailed geological map which categorizes in detail the structural make-up of the rock structure in the area.

It is vital that what types of rocks are included in the overall structure so that geologists can accurately predict the direction and strength of possible cracks.

This was  the first step in the process and more data will need to be collected so as to create a large geological map of the entire area, he said.

All these data will in the end allow geologist to accurately determine the risk of rockslides in and around the prehistoric paintings.

He said the process will take time but officials were speeding up the process and going as fast as they can in order to preserve a rare and valuable national treasure.

There is also an added pressure to their work in that the Thai government plans to push for the Pha Taem prehistoric paintings to be recognized as a World Heritage site, he added.