West Ember Island Cave Systems Geographic Location in Ghosts of Saltmarsh | World Anvil

West Ember Island Cave Systems

The West Ember Island Cave systems are a labyrinth of man-made tunnels carved into the slot volcanic rock on the south side of West Ember Island. Because of the volcanic activity on the island, it is sparsely populated, and largely ignored by the international community. It has historically served as a mining operation for Brat Mahut, a volcanic shelter for the abandoned residents, and currently serves as a slave den for the Ebrelia Trading Company.  

Cave Structure

While the base of the volcano stretches more than 23,000 acres (95 km2, 36 m2), the mapped area of the subterranean cave systems is only 3,283 acres (13 km2, 5 m2). There are three known entrances, though only one is currently in use. Cooling lava from lava tubes created the initial tunnels and large caverns. Miners later expanded this system into a multi-level complex including mining tunnels, ventilation shafts, religious ceremony rooms, dwellings, and marketplaces. The Ebrelia Trading Company sealed off many of these areas as it repurposed the historical settlement into a slave den.   There are three known entrances to the cave systems, although two of them are no longer in use either due to natural or intentional structural collapse. Ceilings near the entrance tend to be high, while tunnels have low ceilings, requiring stooped posture or, for larger creatures, crawling. There are three significant rooms. The largest room is a centrally-located marketplace with carved-out market stalls. Near the primary entrance is a storage center with carved in selves, and large rolling stones sealing off smaller sections presumably used to store ore deposits until they could be loaded up and delivered to Brat Mahut. The most ornate room is located in the east wing of the cave system and features decorate religious etchings and a carved out alter in the center of the room. Because no specific deities are mentioned, the room was likely used to honor multiple religions.  


The area surrounding the cave system gets around 42 inches of rainfall a year. However, the rain combines with sulfur dioxide released by the southern volcanic vents creates acidic rainfall, preventing plant growth. Rapid evaporation compounds this issue. Temperatures inside the cave are usually between 60-68°F with 60% relative humidity.


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