By Alice Nigoghosian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — On October 12, Dr. Charles Chavdarian, a native Detroiter whose family was originally from Keghi, provided an enlightening talk and slide presentation about the caves and caving exploration in Armenia, at a program sponsored by the Tekeyan Cultural Association, at the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU)Alex and Marie Manoogian School.
Chavdarian became intrigued with the subject while traveling in the south of France in 1992, and after reading The Scientific Traveler — a book about prehistoric cave paintings. Following this trip, he became interested in caves throughout the US and Canada, learning about them through the National Speleological Society and a local caving club in the San Francisco Bay Area and by visiting various national parks. He learned how to explore caves in a proper and safe manner from his newfound colleagues.
The deepest caves in the world are located in the countries of Georgia and Mexico. As a result, he believed that there would also be significant caves in Armenia.
Chavdarian decided he wanted to do something for Armenia — and this led to his organizing the first official US caving expedition to visit and photograph caves in the Vayots Dzor province of Armenia in 2007. The initial trip involved his family — his wife, Seda, a professor of French at UC-Berkeley, and son, Greg, who is a geologist — and also his caving colleagues, Steven Johnson and James Wilson — all from the Bay Area.