For the second week in a row, my chosen category is lackluster in the Final Jeopardy! arena, so a second installment in a row will end with a Daily Double!.
Daily Double! category: CAVES (26-4-2013)
$2000 Daily Double! clue: The Republic of Georgia’s Krubera Cave in this mountain system is the world’s deepest at 7,188 feet
The gist: Ukrainian speleologist Gennady Samokhin has the distinct honour of extending it by 52 metres. In 2012, he set a cave-diving record by descending to almost 2200 metres in the Caucasus mountain cave, pushing its measured depth six metres further down than he had in 2007. Located about 15 kilometres off the Black Sea in the disputed territory of Abkhazia, it shares its mountain, the Arabika Massif, with many other caves, several of which stretch down further than a kilometre. The entrance to Krubera is actually at 2256 metres, meaning the cave network ends a few dozen metres above sea level.
The Caucasus Mountains themselves stretch from the northeastern shore of the Black Sea to the central western shore of the Caspian, stretching through Russia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The range, which is divided into the Lesser and Greater Caucasus Ranges, formed mostly during the Jurassic period (c. 200-150 million years ago), as the prehistoric Tethys Ocean, located between the landmasses that would later become Africa, India, and Asia, closed up. The Arabian tectonic plate was pushed northwards into the Iranian and Eurasian plates, folding the rock into the Greater Caucasus Mountains and causing the volcanic activity that largely formed the Lesser Caucasus. The Ranges’ highest peak is Mt. Elbrus, also the highest peak in Europe. Historically, crossing the Caucasus Mountains was among the most trying legs of the Silk Road, and more recently, it was the site of many alpine events at the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia.
The clue: Since you probably haven’t heard of Krubera Cave by name before, this Daily Double! gives you a few seconds to think about what mountain range is likely to be in a clue about the Republic of Georgia (that is, not the state). A Jeopardy! contestant should be up on their mountains, a fairly popular topic on the show, so the Caucasus should come to mind quickly. Even if you’re not aware of the Ranges’ countries, a vague geographical notion of both Georgia and the Caucasus as being somewhere in Europe, but out east near Asia, might be enough to get you to the correct response anyway.
In Jeopardy!: The Caucasus is in 29 clues in the J!Archive. Both Russia and Georgia get ten Caucasian clues (although the U.S.S.R. gets two more), while poor Azerbaijan only gets one. Mt. Elbrus, a popular superlative, gets six. That covers almost all of them, but if the clue is about a Russian mountain range, don’t forget about the Urals, found east of the Caucasus and stretching from the Russian Arctic almost down to the Aral Sea. That range actually gets about ten more clues in the J!Archive, so know the difference.