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Intercom is a publication of the Iowa Grotto of the National Speleological Society, Inc., an internal organization of the National Speleological Society (NSS). The Iowa Grotto, is dedicated to the exploration, study, and conservation of caves.
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Volume 52, Number 3 (May - June 2016).
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I N T E R C O M Volume 52, Issue 3 May June 2016 Iowa Grotto P.O. Box 228 Iowa City, IA 52244 Grotto Website: Coldwater Cave Project website: coldwater Membership Dues : due January 1, $15.00 per year, includes INTERCOM and Hotline subscriptions. INTERCOM subscriptions only are $13.00 per year. The Iowa Grotto reserves the right to decline membership during or after a probationary period. Due Dates : for submission of material for publication in the next INTERCOM is August 1st. Send material for publication, e mail, disk or hard copy to: Editor and Typist: Scott Dankof 515 986 3219 410 SW Hickory Circle Grimes IA. 50111 E mail Coordinate photographs for publication in the INTERCOM with Scott Dankof, the INTERCOM editor. Cave Rescue : Contact the Kentucky Disaster and Emergency Services Central Dispatch at 502 564 7815 for cave emergencies only in the NCRC Central Region of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Iowa Grotto Meetings : are the fourth Wednesday of each month, third Wednesday in December at 7:30 p.m. in Room 125 or thereabouts of Trowbridge Hall on the campus of Cover Photo: Skylight entrance in Cueva Esperanza, Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico . Photo by Mike Lace. National Speleological Society P. O. Box 228 Iowa City, Iowa 52244 Chairman Ed Klausner Vice Chairman/Treasurer John Donahue Secretary Elizabeth Miller Volume 52 Issue 3 ______________C O N T E N T S _____________ Meeting Minutes 60 Trip reports: Isla de Mona 61 CRF Memorial Day Expedition 65 Wonder Cave 66 Coldwater Cave 66 Wonder Cave 67 Mammoth Cave CRF Expedition 68 Photo Gallery 75 59


__________CALENDAR___________ August Grotto Meeting Aug. 24nd Room 125, 7:30 pm, Trowbridge Hall. Sept. Grotto Meeting Sept. 28th Room 125, 7:30 pm, Trowbridge Hall. Annual Grotto Picnic August 6th at Coldwater Cave, Iowa. October Grotto Meeting Oct. 26th Room 125, 7:30 pm, Trowbridge Hall. Minutes of the Iowa Grotto Regular Meeting May 25, 2016 The regular meeting was called to order by Chairman Ed Klausner at 7:35 PM with 6 members and 1 guest were present. The meeting was held outdoors therefore no slide presentation was given. The minutes of the March meeting were read and approved as corrected. No official April meeting was held. Treasurer John Donohue gave the 2015 year end report. On December 31 the grotto had $4661.96 in its account including $102 in petty cash. During the 2015 picnic the grotto earned $70 in tee shirt sales and $618 in the auction.. Trip reports: Liz Robinson reported on a sinkhole cleanup project at the MVOR in southern Missouri. Ed and Elizabeth Miller discussed caving in Lava Beds National monument with grotto member Mark Jones in April. Elizabeth Miller also talked about a visit to Eureka Mine in Death Valley National Park in CA. Future Trips: The Iowa Grotto annual picnic will be held at Coldwater Cave the weekend of August 5 7. Caves will include Coldwater Cave, Wonder Cave, Skunk Cave, and caves near Highlandville. Niagara Cave (commercial) and Mystery Caves in Minnesota are also in the area. The WSS Hodag Hunt is scheduled for September 9 11. The next MVOR will be the last weekend in September in Hart County, KY. Old Business: Members present discussed the apportionment of jobs for the August picnic. New Business: White Nose Syndrome was found in bats in Washington State but not in caves. Its presence affects the requirements for decontamination of caving gear in western states. The meeting adjourned at 8:15. Minutes of the Iowa Grotto Regular Meeting June 22, 2016 The regular meeting was called to order by Chairman Ed Klausner at 7:35 PM. Four members were present. The door to the building was locked, therefore the presentations were postponed. The minutes of the May meeting were port was available. Trip reports: Ed led a trip to Almorial Day weekend for further survey. At the same expedition, his team mapped virgin passage at Roppel Cave. Mike Lace, Mark Jones and others visited Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico in May. A total of 3 kilometers were mapped. Radon sensors were place in Coldwater Cave and Wonder Cave in June by Larry Welch, Mike, Mark and Jordan Kjome. Jordan, his friend Ashley and Larry Welch also went to Coldwater Cave later in June. Future Trips: The annual picnic will be at Coldwater Cave the weekend of August 6. Other caving events mental Cave in Wisconsin July 23. The NSS Convention will begin July 17 in Ely, NV. The Hodag Hunt of the Wisconsin Speleological Society is September 9 11. Old Business: Phil will be grilling the meat for the picnic. Caves to be visited are Highlandville, Skunk, Coldwater, and Wonder. Ed and Elizabeth Miller will be bringing condiments and eating utensils and plates. New Business: The group discussed several alternatives to meeting at the Calvin Hall. They agreed to notify members well in advance of next Other: Descent, a British cave magazine, has recently published an arti60


cle on caving at Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico. The meeting adjourned at 7:52 PM. Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico May 17, 2016 By Mark Jones I was excited to have the opportunity to return to Isla de Mona for the 2016 expedition along with nine other cavers. We shoved off from the dock in Mayaguez at sunrise for the three hour trip across the Caribbean Sea to the white sand beach on the southwestern tip of Mona. The group consisted of Tamara González Durán, Pat Kambesis, Karen Willmes, Eli Winkler, Manuel Güivas Gerena, Mike Lace, Tom Miller, Rick Toomey, Dave West and me. Calm waters meant that four of us could sit on the upper deck to grab a better view on the journey. As we lost sight of the Puerto Rican island the cliffs of Isla de Mona came into view. A majority of the island is an uplifted fifty meter plateau with the dock at Playa Sardinera being the main access. Once we had unpacked everything the kitchen was set up and camp was organized. A pair of endangered Mona ground iguanas ( Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri ) oversaw the entire operation. Eli and Rick took a quick dip in the lagoon and almost immediately spotted a spotted eagle ray ( Aetobatus narinari ) swimming amongst the other fishes. Impressed with their discovery I donned my snorkeling gear and soon found a pair of spotted eagle rays! What a way to start the week! Cueva Gato May 18, 2016 For our first day of caving at Mona we hiked up to the top of the plateau from the camping area. I had warned Dave and Karen of the potential of a hill. The soldier crabs or common land hermit crabs ( Coenobita clypeatus ) climb on the trail and when they get spooked they hide in their shells (Their shells are round.) and they come tumbling down the hill. Unfortunately we never witnessed a full fledged crabalanche during the week. Once on the plateau (mesata) we hiked north along the western side of the island to continue a previous survey. Mike took Tamara, Manuel, Tom and me to Cueva Gato while the rest of the crew ventured on to another cave. About four kilometers into the walk we detoured off the trail two hundred meters to the bluff to find Cueva Gato. As we approached the GPS waypoint for the ceiling collapse we stumbled across century old remains from the guano mining period. Iron rails along with various rusty remnants were strewn around the ground gradually being overtaken by the isthe bluff entrance where we climbed down the breakdown to the roundhouse area. The speleogenesis of the island is related to the contact point of the freshwater lens and saltwater that forms the caves from the inside out. The surface opening occurs after much of the cave has already been hollowed out. Often these caves have numerous entrances in the same strata with extensive passages with no real mainstream. Another feature of flank margin caves is the presence of ferred to as grotesqueries. These strange formations were actually run of the mill limestone deposited stalactites and stalagmites that were redissolved. A majority of the formations that I saw during the week were of this unusual type. We started the survey at a skylight with Mike keep book and sketching, Tom on point and reading backsights and me taking foresights and photographs. Since Tamara and Manuel were new to surveying Tom and I would teach them the ropes. From the edge of a massive ceiling collapse we set off down a crawlway into an expansive room. Splay shots were taken to define the perimeter as we surveyed 61


along the main path toward a small skylight. From here the passages radiated off into four directions that were surveyed and tied together into the sketch. While Mike toiled away on the map the rest of us poked around in search of connections to virgin cave. Often times on Mona an insignificant bellycrawl opens into a significant passage with no other entime. Circling around the room we eventually reached another crawlway that led back out to the same massive ceiling collapse where we started. this is the nature of the caves on the island. We finished the survey with some short shots around the rim of the collapse before packing up for the day. Total cave time was five hours. Cueva Agave May 19, 2016 The second day on Isla de Mona had me going with Pat Kambesis and Rick Toomey to Cueva Agave to push a virgin section off to the north while the others continued to survey the main section of the cave. Once again we hiked north along the trail on the western edge of the meseta to the ceiling collapse entrance. Passages radiated in all directions zigzagging back and forth so it was nice that Pat and Rick knew the route to our starting point. Winding around in comfortable walking passage we reached a balcony where an easy hands and knees crawl split off to the left. After the fifty foot crawl we were in roomy, stoopwalking cave for the remainder of the trip. The dry, dusty floor appeared to be stable but the blue land crabs ( Cardisoma guanhumi ) have churned up the soil over the centuries resulting in booby traps hidden everywhere. For this survey Pat kept book, Rick shot the Disto X for distance, bearing and inclination and I set stations and shot photos. From our first station we serpentined around the room weaving back and forth to capture the cave dimensions. By lunchtime we had reached another balcony ledge that gave a grand view of nearby Isla de Monito off to the west. This tiny island is even more remote than Isla de Mona with a perimeter of sheer cliffs. Following a quick bite we continued our survey into virgin cave from the balcony to the south. We pushed into a hands and knees crawl that unfortunately terminated after fifteen meters in an alcove. The stagnant air was the tell of the line. When the work was finished we rejoined the others to help them wrap up the survey in the main area. The other teams were busy defining the walls so we tied into one of their stations to flesh out the blank spots on the map. With plenty of time to spare while Pat sketched Rick and I wandered off to conduct a quick bio inventory of some rimstone pools. An assortment of beautiful formations were scattered throughout this expansive room. We closed the book on Cueva Agave by mid afternoon. It was another fine day of caving on Isla de Mona. Cueva Esparanza May 20, 2016 For the third day on Isla de Mona I went to Cueva Esparanza with Dave West, Karen Willmes and Elizabeth Winkler to start surveying this cave. Leaving camp at 8:00 a.m. we climbed up to the meseta and headed north before angling off toward the coast. A bit of bushwhacking was necessary to reach the breakdown entrance drop hidden along the rim of the meseta. Thankfully the cave offered respite from the oppressive heat of Isla de Mona. Once we had reconnoitered the orientation of the cave Dave broke out his sketchbook to begin the survey. Eli drew cross sections and the running profile, Karen shot the Disto X for 62


distance and read instruments while I set stations and shot photos. Inisponding which delayed our progress causing us to resort to the backup compass. Finally we got the numbers to jibe and we were on our way. Heading north along the western wall the map began taking shape as Dave and Eli drew in the main passage and noteworthy formations. The amorphous shape of the cave resulted in several splay shots into parallel passages and countless alcoves. Poking along the perimeter I discovered a bellycrawl that popped into a fabulous room that I proclaimed as were not impressed with the three foot ceiling or the aroma from the cockroach frass wafting about. A couple other windows looked out over the Mona Passage but were too small to push. Dave slipped into a nasty, dusty bellycrawl that pinched out but Karen, Eli and I bypassed it by simply walking around the corner. Here we found a mining glyph of crossed picks in red paint. Evidently this symbol was used to indicate an area to be mined. Further into the survey Karen found a bellycrawl with an inviting breeze that was noted for another day since we had plenty of going cave left. The last half of the survey took us into nicer formations that made the day worthwhile. By mid circled back to our starting point with a couple hundred meters of survey under our belt. A pleasant hike back to camp topped off a great day of caving on Isla de Mona. Cueva Esparanza May 21, 2016 The fourth day on Isla de Mona had me working again in Cueva Esparanza with Dave West and Karen Willmes with plans for Elizabeth Winkler to join us later. Eli was planning on surveying with us after helping with a come accustom to the hike on the mereach the edge of the cliff concealing the breakdown entrance. We began with Dave on book, Karen on point and me reading instruments and snapping photos. Tying into yestersouth in the main passage. A nice breeze made for an enjoyable stroll in easy walking cave with a smattering of formations along the way. We sidestepped a hands and knees crawl on the west that will be added to the map later. Four shots into the survey we reached a few trees amidst the breakdown rubble reaching beyond a six foot diameter skylight. Among the breakdown we found a couple of goat skulls along with other mammalian bones. Whether these remains were from an unfortunate fall or the result of an encounter with hunters could not be determined. Just like yesterday the blobby nature of the passage required us to shoot splay shots into numerous alcoves and side passages. With the complications related to sketching the map Karen and I had plenty of time to push beyond our intended survey to better understand the trend of the cave. A maze of intertwining passages eventually brought us to a photogenic balcony with a grand view of Isla de Monito. Back with Dave we took a few more shots before tying off at a convenient station. Tomorrow with hopes of recruiting another team to possibly finish our survey here. We set an easy pace for the trip back to camp. The vertical trip returned an hour later with reports of a fantastic cave a hundred feet down us! Cueva Esparanza May 22, 2016 With our description of Cueva Esparanza, Mike Lace, Tamara González Durán, and Manuel Güivas Gerena survey of the cave. Clearing out of 63


camp at 8:00 a.m. we (Mike, Tamara, Manuel, Dave West, Karen Willmes and me) quickly strolled across the meseta to the entrance at the edge of the cliff. Once inside the cave we split into two teams with Mike taking Tamara and Manuel to survey off to the right on the cliff face while Dave led Karen and me to the left to mop up the inland side. Again Dave kept book, Karen set stations and I read instruments. Our first objective was to survey to a ceiling collapse and over a breakdown pile to an extension that rapidly pinched down to a dusty bellycrawl that eventually terminated after an unpleasant thirty feet. (Or so a few days ago. No one had ventured past the bellycrawl but the steady breeze indicated that there was a lot of potential. I pushed past the constriction to a dusty hands and knees crawl. Imagine my surprise when I found a blue land crab ( Cardisoma guanhumi ) scurrying across the floor in search of a hiding place. These are the culprits that have been churning up the floor and creating the pothole booby traps. Over my shock I soon realized that I was in a very respectable addition of the cave. A breakdown pile from a skylight collapse blocked the way on the left while the crawlway continued off to the right. The crawlway soon gave way to a stoopwalk that wrapped around to the left back past the skylight. Wriggling through the breakdown we discovered two more skylights that also tied into the cave. It was back to the cave for more virgin passage (with the two skylights) in an easy stoopwalk for another two hundred feet before reaching a second breakdown collapse. We were able to squirm through the rock to a small room that overlooked the deep blue Caribbean. A stoopwalk bypass skirted around to the left for another fifty feet before a window opened into a final balcony room. Cueva Esparanza provided three days of interesting and entertaining caving. Excalibur Cave May 23, 2016 I was excited to be offered the chance to rappel into Excalibur Cave for the last day of the Mona expedition. Earlier in the week a party led by Pat Kambesis had dropped down from a balcony of Cueva Espinal thirty meters to within a meter of a huge breakdown block at the mouth of a new cave. The cave was so big that they group included Tamara González Durán, Pat Kambesis, Manuel Güivas Gerena, Tom Miller, Rick Toomey, and me. Knowing that I would have to stay hydrated I had prepared two gallons of drink for the day. Once again it was up the trail to the top of the meseta and a forty minute hike off to the northwest. Since the rope had been left from the other day we simply donned our vertical gear and took our turns on rope. An interesting sideline a Coast Guard cutter and accompanying helicopter were in the channel and came over to investigate our activities. Manuel was the first down rope followed by Tamara, me, Rick, Pat and Tom. I can honestly say that this was the most exciting rappel that I have done. A steep ten meter slope gave way to an undercut so for the next twenty meters I was hanging away from the wall. Being on rope over the Caribbean Sea was quite exhilarating. As I approached the landing Manuel pulled me into the cave. Once off rope I assisted the others as they arrived. The top of the breakdown block gave a fantastic view across the Mona Passage to Isla de Monito. The Caribbean Sea lay thirty meters below crashing into the cliff. Climbing over the breakdown boulder it became obvious that this was a special cave. The mouth of the cave was a hundred me64


ters wide by twenty meters high! Numerous birds kept tabs on our activities throughout our time at the entrance. Probably the most unusual was the endangered yellow shouldered blackbird ( Agelaius xanthomus monensis ), a subspecies of the yellow shouldered blackbird ( Agelaius xanthomus ) found on Puerto Rico. The isolation of the island and the caves gives them an ideal location to nest and a bit of protection. Everyone from the Midwest is familiar with its cousin, the red winged blackbird ( Agelaius phoeniceus ). Twenty meters inside the cave evidence of guano mining is everywhere. Old iron rails, railroad spikes, bits and pieces of carts, tools, bottles, graffiti and rock art were found everywhere during our survey. In fact a spike driven into a rock near the cliff line gives the cave its name. To think that over a hundred years ago the miners had not only removed the guano but constructed a rail system to haul it to the sea seems ludicrous. Vast areas had been mined giving us easy access to a majority of the cave. Tamara and Manuel began drawing cross sections and profiles of the cave while Rick conducted a cultural and biological study and the rest of us began surveying the inner reaches. Pat kept book, Tom set stations and I took Disto X readings and shot photos. Enormous pieces of breakdown created narrow alleys that we followed around the perimeter as we defined the walls of the cave. Near the back a plethora of small formations decorated the ceiling and floor. Circling around counter clockwise we crossed under our survey and wrapped around through a crawlway back to our initial station! After having an idyllic picnic lunch on the veranda overlooking the Caribbean Sea it was back to work recording the data for the cave mouth. This time we followed the edge of the cliff enjoying the warmth of the sun as Pat sketched in the map. Numerous pits had been dug on the north end of pose. Finishing up at 3:00 p.m. we made for the rope and return to Cueva was thankful that there was still a half gallon of juice waiting at the top. When everyone was up the rigging was removed and all the gear packed up for the hike back to camp. An excellent trip to cap off the 2016 Mona expedition! CRF Memorial Day Expedition Mammoth Cave, Kentucky By Ed Klausner The Cave Research Foundation Memorial Day expedition at Mammoth Cave is a two caving day expedition, so the long drive to Kentucky is worth the effort. On the first day, Elizabeth Winkler, Anna Klis and I went to tion of Mammoth Cave. I have been sheet for several years and had never been to the bottom of the first dome until earlier this year. There are 3 fixed ropes in the domes making the carry ropes with us and spend the time rigging them. The first rope gets you to the bottom of the first dome and the next gets you up into the second dome. From there, it is an easy trip to the two holes in the floor which were our first objective. The first proved to be way too small to fit in to as it was 6 inches wide and solid rock on both sides. The second was a bit bigger, but unfortunately, had survey below. Anna found several S survey stations which were later discovered to be part of a much earlier survey with a very confusing sketch. With two leads crossed off the list, we proceeded to the next objective, about 30 feet away. This was an area that needed to be resketched and had a few leads as well. It turned out to be quite a nice dome with a clean bedrock floor with a pool at one end. After resketching this, we continued the survey into a virgin small dome with a short bit of passage about 6 65


feet up where water was flowing into the dome. There were rimstone dams on the floor and lots of flowstone on continue north by going up the third rope as we were out of time. On the second day of caving, Elizabeth Winkler, Karen Willmes and I went to a lead that Elizabeth had started surveying a few months ago in Roppel Cave. It was relatively close to the entrance and we quickly got to the beginning of the passage. It was rather small, just a bit bigger than body size for about 100 feet. Fortunately, this was the part already surveyed and by the time we got to the last station, it was already stoopwalking sized. In another hundred or so feet, it was walking passage and we surveyed a bit more than 350 feet. The passage continues and there are 4 leads that we passed. Two are quite promising and the others look to be a struggle. Wonder Cave Winneshiek County, Iowa June 6, 2016 By Mark Jones Larry Welch wanted to gather more radon data from other Iowa caves for his ongoing research so Jordan Kjome, Mike Lace and I met him outside of Decorah, Iowa to set a radon sensor near the terminal pit of Wonder Cave. Jordan grew up in the area and had heard stories about the cave during its commercial operation from his father and was excited to see the cave for himself. From the old schoolhouse it was a hundred feet down the old trail to the six foot diameter entrance that sloped down to the cave gate. After we opened the gate Mike retreated to the surface to converse with the landowner while the rest of us dropped down to see the cave. With a rope rigged into the gate we rappelled down a twenty foot drop to the bottom of a tall narrow canyon. At one time the tourists would descend a wooden stairway to this point but members of the Iowa Grotto removed the rotting structure several years ago. From here we wound down a narrow concrete path for the remainder of the trip. A small waterfall issued from a crack in the wall trickling down the trail to a shallow pool. Much of the floor was being redecorated in a beautiful thin layer of rimstone dams. The original passage continued high up in a slot canyon but to make the cave more accessible for visitors a tunnel was drilled and rock was removed. The trail undulated for the next two hundred feet resulting in a couple of knee deep pools before reaching the top of the pit. The metal framework of the overlook remains but the wooden risers were removed by the Iowa Grotto for safety reasons. The radon sensor was set up and we retraced our steps back to the surface. trieve the Radon Scout. Total cave time was forty five minutes. Coldwater Cave Winneshiek County, Iowa June 6, 2016 By Mark Jones Following our successful work at Wonder Cave north of Decorah we were off to Coldwater Cave to recreate the December radon trials. Larry Welch had prepared twenty one radon detectors for the seven locations along the mainstream route for the sixty hour experiment. While Larry went downstream to set a series of three at four sites Jordan Kjome and I would go upstream to set another series of three at three sites. Dropping the shaft at 8:15 p.m. we found the water level at a comfortable 0.80 feet for our little jaunt. A couple hundred feet above the platform we climbed over several large breakdown blocks scattered in the stream before wading upstream to the Crinoid Beds. At Jumping Off Point we set the first three sensors for the radon experiments. From Jumping Off Point we dropped down to an easy oval stoopwalk all the way up to dentified fish as we waded upstream. 66


67 tectors were deployed before continuing past the Blue Room, Camp III up to the Rock River Formation. Our final destination was the downstream entrance to The Spong where the last three radon sensors were opened. Jordan photo documented the trip for exited the cave after two hours with plans to return at 9:00 a.m. to repeat the process for the thirty six hour experiment. June 7, 2016 For the second trip of the week at Coldwater Cave Larry Welch had another twenty one radon detectors prepared for the seven sites selected for his radon study: at the platform and downstream (Pothole Country, Upstream Dead Coon passage and Guardian Fangs) and upstream (Jumping Off While Larry traveled downstream I tackled the upstream section. We dropped the shaft at 8:00 a.m. to again I passed the Upstream Breakdown and North Snake before deploying the first three sensors at the Crinoid Beds. Next I stopped to set three and finally I opened the last three at The Spong. It was another successful trip into Coldwater. With thirty six hours before retrieving these sensors we set off to help Andrew Welch move to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for his first job after graduating from Luther College in Decorah. June 8, 2016 At 8:00 p.m. Larry Welch and I re entered Coldwater Cave to collect the radon detectors deployed for the 36 hour experiment. The water level had I closed the sensors on the platform and ventured downstream to gather the nine sensors set Tuesday morning. The clear water exposed a majority of the breakdown as well as other tripping hazards in the stream making my trip had reached my first stop on the ledge above Pothole Country. After closing the bugs I continued down to the upstream entrance to Dead Coon passage where I repeated the process. My last site was at the mouth of Guardian Fang where I closed the three sensors and returned upstream collecting the other bugs on the way. This trip took two hours. Back in the shack Larry took the preliminary readings to compare with the results from December. June 9, 2016 The fourth and final day of Larry gan at 8:00 a.m. when we dropped the shaft to collect the remaining sensors. In spite of the steady, all night rain the water level had only stream while I closed the sensors on the platform and went back downstream to collect the radon sensors set for the 60 hour experiment. At Pothole Country I sealed the first three bugs and waded down to the upstream entrance to Dead Coon. The next three sensors were soon closed and fifteen minutes later I shut the last bug at Guardian Fangs to put an end to the field exercise. I returned to the platform and exited the cave at 10:00 a.m. Once again Larry took preliminary readings for his study. Wonder Cave Winneshiek County, Iowa June 9, 2016 By Mark Jones Larry and I returned to Wonder Cave to collect the last sensor set for his radon study. It took an hour to rig the drop, rappel down, retrieve the sensor and climb out. Larry will return to Knox College in Galesburg where he will download the data from the sensors to compare and contrast


68 Radon Conference this fall in San Diego, California, hell I might even go to the conference. Mammoth Cave CRF Expedition Violet City Entrance Edmonson County, Kentucky June 25, 2016 By Mark Jones I was excited to work with Scott House and Bill Copeland for the first day of the 4 th of July Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) expedition. Scott wanted to compare his notes of Main Cave with the actual passage for his map section before finishing up his map. By 9:00 a.m. we were packed up and out of Hamilton Valley arriving at the Violet City entrance fifteen minutes later. We fought with the lock for a few minutes before Bill took charge and unlocked the deadbolt. This entrance is used by the National Park Service as the exit for the popular Lantern Tour. It was just a thirty foot walk in an fessional photographer from New Albany, Indiana, this was a fantastic introduction to this section of Main Cave. Booming borehole would adequately describe our entire day. An undulating trail eventually reached Cave lore is that Tribble was a slave who led trips in the cave and had eaten some of the epsomite salt resulting in an unexpected bowel movement when he was climbing the slope. Soon we passed the legendary Mummy Ledge where Lost John was discovered under a huge boulder. In the mid tion of a trail by the C.C.C. and a length of cable was wrapped around the boulder and hoisted up. Lost John was displayed in a glass case by Gipublic opinion changed about this type of exhibition and he was reinterred. Several hundred feet later we reached Chief City, one of the largest rooms in the cave. Wandering notice the remnants from oodles of cane reed torches from the prehistoric Native Americans mixed with the remains of untold fireworks and torches from the days of illumination shows by the tour guides. Around the corner we heard the faint sound of a waterfall that gradually grew as we approached the Cataracts. A steady stream dropped down forty foot in a rocky dome before disappearing among the breakdown. A twin dome was off to the left with a rocky crawl that wove around to Solitary Cave. Continuing in Main Cave for another ten minutes we strolled into rivaled Chief City in all aspects. named after local families. Near the Star Chamber Scott and I investigated a cut around along the right wall to find a cluster of signatures that included John M. Nelson (1901) and Stephen Gorin (1839). Both were well known cave guides although Gorin is better known as Stephen Bishop. In addition to the signatures we located lantern parts that were probably stashed here for the old Star Chamber light show. We took a quick peek down Indian Avenue before calling it a day. On the way to the Historic Entrance fin, Methodist Church, the saltpetre vats and pipes before leaving the cool confines for the muggy surface. This was a wonderful trip to learn more about the history of Mammoth Cave and its people. Roaring River Survey June 26, 2016 Two years had passed since I last had been floating in a raft regatta down Roaring River to resurvey the goals were to continue the Roaring River survey to the sump and to correct an erroneous compass reading


69 from the previous survey. Rick Olson, Rick Toomey, Eli Winkler and I arrived at the elevator at 10:30 a.m. to drop down to Snowball Dining Room and the two mile hike down El Ghor to Silliman Avenue to Echo River. Fortunately the inflatable kayaks had been lugged down to our launch site a few days earlier by the four Eagle Scouts attending the Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) 4 th of July expedition. We hustled right on down to the white sand dune where the gear was stashed. Stepping into our wetsuits we soon had our boats inflated and ready for the adventure. In spite of its name Roaring River was anything but today and in fact the waterflow was practically zero. Due to recent precipitation the water was so turbid that aquatic creatures and rock features were difficult (if not impossible) to see. With the water at a normal seasonal level it destination, Station D1. Due to an incorrect compass reading from the previous trip we had to recreate the survey and pick up stations to fix the problem. Thankfully Eli had a Disto rectified the error. Returning to Station D1 we began our survey with Eli reading the Disto X, Rick O. setting stations, Rick T. on back station and me keeping book. Surveying from a kayak can be entertaining to say the least but we were able to perform the work with drill team precision. It does help that by this point the cave is essentially a formationless oval twelve foot wide by six foot high with up to five feet of water. A hundred feet into the survey a fourteen foot tall canyon passage cut across the ceiling. A couple of deer stand ladder sections and a bit of webbing should allow us access to this enticing lead. Seventy feet further on the canyon once again intersected the lower level and meandered overhead for fifty feet before angling off to the right. A steep muddy slope may be the most promising connection to this upper level. Twenty feet downstream the canyon cut across the ceiling for the last time. We speculate that this may be a route beyond the nearby sump. About this time the Disto X developed an error so it was now time to pull out the trusty compass/clino. Needless to say Eli was not happy about this. She rose to the occasion and carried on admirably for the next six shots until we reached the sump. This is the end of the line for this route unless scuba gear is used. Surprisingly we found several camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) and springtails ( Collembola , various species) clinging to the ceiling above the water near the sump. A leisurely pace was set for the return trip and we exited the elevator at 8:00 p.m. Sloan Crossing Cave #1 June 27, 2016 Bill Copeland wanted to survey one of the small caves in the park so Matthew Kirby and I joined him for the trip. According to previous trip reports the cave was located just off the road and had a steep slope to a terminal room. Using the GPS location on file we promptly found the possible remnants of a cave but it was now completely filled. I decided to hike up along the rim of the sinkhole to ridgewalk my way back to the car. On the sinkhole lip I found another smaller sinkhole with a suspicious looking slope. Upon investigation I determined that this was our cave. The description from the cave data was spot on so Bill set another waypoint for the file. Sliding down the steep, rocky slope twenty feet brought me to the top of a twelve foot high domeroom. Chimneying down to the floor I squeezed into the lowest level but the lack of passage would prevent us from going any further. Bill had begun surveying the entrance area but with only a couple of shots to take I picked up sketching and Matt shot the Disto X. Three high angled shots totaled 44 feet with an inclination of 40°. Siz-


70 able breakdown and mud cover a majority of the floor with quite a bit of forest detritus found near the upper slope. Cave critters found included a lone Western slimy salamander ( Plethodon albagula or glutinosus ) along with a healthy population of camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ). Total cave time was an hour. Historic Entrance June 28, 2016 Aaron Bird wanted to return to Cyclops Gateway to poke around a pit lead so Rachel Bosch and I were recruited to assist in this project. Arriving at 10:30 a.m. at the Historic Entrance we zipped down the passage past the saltpeter leeching vats, Methodist Church and Gothic Avenue to cut down Cyclops Gateway on the left. Soon we were climbing over massive breakdown in a ceiling pinch to a dropdown squeeze to our first rigging point. Aaron secured the rope while Rachel and I put on our vertical gear. A straight forward thirty foot drop ended on the top of a rubble pile. Again Aaron rigged the rope for the second drop but this time Rachel and I took a lunch break. Since Aaron had scouted the lead previously he went down first followed by Rachel and then me. This drop was a bit more challenging since you had to swing into a four foot diameter tube eighteen feet above the bottom of the pit. Once inside the tube I broke out the book and we began our survey. Rachel was on point, Aaron took Disto X shots and I recorded data and sketched. Connecting through a skylight to a station in the canyon below we were off like a herd of turtles. Seven stations were set with the first six garnering less than five foot each, the seventh was eleven feet. The gnarly passage terminated at a breakdown constriction slipped through six inches in the Porta Cave Squeeze at Hamilton Valley so there was no argument on her assessment. We finished off the survey with a thirty foot shot back to the pit and a final shot to close the loop. The climb out went without incident with several beautiful 15 th wedding anniversary photos taken of Rachel and Aaron. Congratulations kids! We exited the cave at 4:00 p.m. with 92 feet of survey and finished the known leads in this area. Sand Cave Spring Lower and Upper June 29, 2016 The trio of Bill Copeland, Matthew Kirby and Mark Jones was reassembled for another trip to one of the many small caves in Mammoth Cave National Park. This time we were bushwhacking a mile down to the Green River to Sand Cave Spring Lower and Upper. ited by cavers in a while we were using information from several years ago and hoping for the best. At 10:00 a.m. we set off down a gradual ridgetop before reaching a steep slope that ended at the Green River. I attempted to follow close to the river but was denied by the muddy banks and stinging nettle but Bill had stayed a bit higher and found a clearer trail that led to the cave entrance. A valley with a mound of mud on the left and a rock cliff on the right trended east for two hundred feet to the sixty five foot wide by twenty foot high entrance to the lower cave. Our excitement was soon tempered by the fact that a deep pool over thirty feet wide spanned the passage preventing us from continuing. Floatation devices to ferry people and gear will be necessary for any trips returning to the cave. While we were stymied in lower cave Matthew found Upper Cave to be easily accessible so I proceeded to survey it. Upper Cave is located directly over Lower Cave connected by a narrow ledge. A single shot of twenty seven feet was all it took to inventory this little gem. Matthew next tied Upper Cave with the brass cap down in Lower Cave so the


71 relationship between the caves can be shown on the map. Bill followed up by surveying from the Green River to the brass cap and into the entrance area before closing the book for the day. We enjoyed a pleasant hike back to the car having to contend with only one patch of thorny briars. Total time was five hours. Potato Cave June 30, 2016 Dave West, the Expedition Leader for the 4 th of July Cave Research Foundation Expedition, sent Tim Green, Bruce Hatcher and me to Potato Cave to continue a resurvey started in January 2014. Using information from past trip reports (some dating from 1961) we packed up our gear along with two long ropes. After a bit of buffoonery we arrived at the cave enthe first drop. I slid down the rope for sixty feet on a 45° slope to a twenty foot drop into a narrow canyon that dropped down a steep rocky slope to the bottom of a seventy foot pit, station P7. This is where our survey would begin. Tim was on point, Bruce shot the Disto X and I kept book and took pictures. Although only eleven feet the first shot took us under a floor ledge past a three foot diameter hole into a twelve foot wide pancake passage. A fourteen foot deep pit waits for the unsuspecting just on the other side. Behind the station a tight crawl trends to the east for over twenty feet before choking down at a breakdown wall. Continuing in the low crawlway to the west another twenty five feet brought us to the lip of the second drop. This twenty three foot drop led to a six foot wide by twenty foot long balcony with a crawlway to the right and more canyon passage ahead. We chose to follow the canyon passage. A third drop of twenty one feet took us to the lowest level of the cave. This was by far the most interesting area of the survey. Fluted walled rose forty eight feet to a flat ceiling in a meandering three foot wide canyon. In several places a thin coating of orange, iron rich rock ran in strips down the wall. Several odd calcite formations were discovered at the base of the canyon. Winding seventy feet through the canyon ended at a spectacular fifty six foot high canyon with a waterfall dribbling from the ceiling. A trip report from 1971 related how they set thirteen climbing bolts and four pitons in an effort to reach the waterfall passage. They were sorely disappointed when the upper lead ran for forty feet in a hands and knees crawl to a breakdown wall. Unfortunately they and after forty five years the climbing bolts are rusty and not to be trusted. We found several black walls of thin black chert in the waterfall room; one of them was six feet tall! Since these formations warranted placement on the map we took Disto X readings to accurately incorporate them in the sketch. Intersecting these black walls were more of those orange bands of rock. When we returned to Hamilton Valley Rachel Bosch commented how the angle of the black chert was at 60° which is the same angle as calcite with a geological interest will answer the question relating to this area. While I was sketching Tim and Bruce poked around to find several crawlways that seem to trend back under our survey. One of them even connects into the passage on the right of the balcony. With time running out the survey was finished and we exited the cave at 6:30 p.m. It will take several more surveys to complete the map of Potato Cave. Addendum #1: At station P7 the walls and floor were peppered with a thin coating of bat guano. Addendum #2: I contacted renowned cave geologist Art Palmer who gave the following reply to my questions.


72 Hi Mark, These are great examples from the lower unit of the Levias Member of the Ste Genevieve Formation (not far below the base of the Girkin. The chert beds and cross cutting dikes are all part of a quartz rich zone. Many of them are what the field geologists sometimes call "quartz clusters" apparently these were originally zones of gypsum or similar material that deeply buried beneath younger beds and were slowly replaced by quartz during their burial as deep groundwater passed through. They really are remarkable. Nice thing is, the next time you see them you'll know exactly what be you're in! Art P.S. Some of the veins may be composed of dolomite, which is less soluble than calcite at high temperatures and more likely to precipitate. Dolomite veins, both vertical and dipping at about a 40 60 degree angle are common in parts of the cave system. The dolomite would tend to be opaque white, although some may be yellowish or even pinkish. Great Onyx Cave July 1, 2016 Several months ago Rick Toomey had asked me to assist in a cave program for an outreach program through Tennessee State University related to agriculture. Seeing that I had taught high school agriculture for twenty seven years I was happy to oblige. After an orientation meeting at Hamilton Valley with the twenty one students we packed into the vans for the short drive to Great Onyx Cave. Once all the cave lights were distributed and cave safety covered it was time to get underground. Inside the blockhouse we were greeted by a multitude of camel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) on our way down the steps. Soon we were surrounded by stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone. A lone cave salamander ( Eurycea lucifuga ) created quite a stir, with dozens of pictures taken by the students. Rick explained the geology of the region and its impact on the cave and cave life. We lunched on the benches at the end of the old short tour before breaking out the surveying gear to explain how maps are drawn. Deeper in the cave we reached the Great Kentucky Desert where Rick explained how the sandstone cap changed the dynamics of the passage and influenced the cave biota. Further along Edwards Avenue we met with Dave Griffith and his crew conducting an ongoing biological study. The students were especially interested in the diminutive pseudoscorpions ( Hesperochernes occidentalis ) found under the rocks hunting for its tiny victims. On the return trip we detoured through a parallel passage of fabulous gypsum. too sure of returning underground anytime soon but did appreciate the opportunity to visit a cave. Back at Hamilton Valley many of the students braved the Porta Cave squeezebox. Before sending them on their way I presented each of them with a copy of The Longest Cave autographed by Roger Brucker, one of the authors. Hopechallenges of the future. July 8, 2016 Dear Rick and Mark, I would like to say thank you for the cave tour you provide on July 1st to the TSU Summer Apprentice Program students. It was a wonderful tour that helped to spark interest in earth and environmental sciences and expanded their imagination. The students were talking about their experience on the way back to Nashville. None of the students riding in my van had been in a cave before, so this was a wonderful experience for them. Several expressed interest in learning more about caves or doing research in caves. They all said


73 they learned something new, and that this experience was different from what they thought a cave would be like. That was one of our goals when we approached you about doing a tour such as this giving inner city youth an experience so that they could appreciate karst geomorphology and hydrology. They also learned a lot about cave biology (please give our thanks to the professor from Ferris State University who spoke about cave macroinvertebrates). Several students expressed how much they enjoyed the cave mapping portion. In other words, they got to experience a lot more than I was expecting. We also really appreciate the free books about cave exploration and pushing ourselves. That is why I am truly grateful for all you did for these students. These are difficult days, with a lot of racial tensions rising. Experiences like the those you provided July 1st are totally removed from that tension and wonderful. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to provide that experience. Sincerely, Tom Byl Roaring River Survey July 2, 2016 Since the inflatable kayaks were still down by Roaring River it was decided to send a crew out to push the canyon leads down near the terminal sump and take a look at the waterflow at the sump. Tim Green, Elizabeth Winkler and I had all been down in that area so we were chosen for the task. To access these upper canyons we brought along two sections of a mini ladder which would elevate us eight feet over the water. At 10:30 p.m. we broke the surface at the elevator taking the easy way down to Snowball Dining Room. From here it was a two mile stroll down El Ghor into Silliman Avenue and down to Roaring River. donned our wetsuits we quickly paddled downstream to station RRL that was below the first lead. After assembling the ladder Tim scurried up to find a ten foot diameter room covered in a thick, gooey, odoriferous mud from floor to ceiling. Both Eli findings. Disappointed with the first lead we floated down to station RA19 where the ladder was laid on the mud slope and I climbed up. This time we had more passage only it was a two foot diameter tube coated in thick, gooey, odoriferous mud. We discovered it cut back to the mainstream twenty feet later. This bypass was simply sketched in. The third lead was below station RA20 and proved to be the most prombooming borehole so she climbed up to find a twenty foot long sloping canyon surprisingly covered in thick, gooey, odoriferous mud. Being the best of our leads we decided to put some shots into this passage. Eli was on point and read backsights, Tim read foresights and I kept book. Requiring only three stations we made short work of this survey. While I was finishing up the sketch Tim and Eli continued downstream to the terminal sump to confirm that it is a scuba diving lead rather than a rise pool. Their opinion is that it is a scuba lead. On the way upstream Tim stopped to check one more canyon lead but again was denied. With all our objects fulfilled we paddled back up Roaring River to the staging area to change out of our wetsuits. Another party is returning next week so we were able to leave the kayaks for them. Total cave time was 7.5 hours. With the water visibility much better than last Sunday we were able to see several aquatic species including some northern cavefish ( Amblyopsis spelaea ) and Southern cave fish ( Typhlichthys subterraneus ), a banded sculpin ( Cottus carolinae ) and a dozen cave crayfish ( Orconectes pellucidus ). Additional cave critters


74 seen included c amel crickets ( Ceuthophilus gracilipes ) and cave beetles ( Neaphaeps telemkampfi ). Sand Cave Spring Lower July 3, 2016 For the last day of the 4 th of July Cave Research Foundation Expedition I went with Bill Copeland and Rick Toomey back to Sand Cave Spring Lower to continue surveying past the thirty foot diameter rise pool just inside the entrance. This time Bill had purchased a pair of inner tubes to float across the pool to the cave beyond. Although a map exists of the cave it is a dated version that is in serious need on an update. After an hour hike we arrived at the impressive entrance to Sand Cave Spring Lower. Rick was the first to traverse over to the other shore and we then ferried gear followed by Bill and finally me. From the banks of the pool a steep muddy slope rose ten feet through a stoopwalk up to an impressive fifty clothes with dry it was time to get down to work. Bill drew the plan view, Rick was on point, looked for cave biota and Disto X and I kept book, drew profile and took photos. I was able to check out a balcony lead ten feet up the dome but was unable to climb the twenty feet to an upper lead. Back at the survey a sharp, cold breeze blew down the narrow, six foot high canyon which encouraged us to move faster. Thirty feet from the first dome Rick found a second fifty foot dome! Another balcony lead off to the right could be accessed with a twelve foot ladder but the high lead off to the left is inaccessible without climbing gear. At our fifth station Rick noted a cold, brisk wind blowing out of a two foot wide by six foot passage. While Bill completed his sketch of the second dome Rick and I followed the breeze. Seventy feet later the floor dropped down a muddy slope to a twenty foot diameter pool. While the tional cold cave gear will be needed to comfortably explore and survey Sand Cave Spring Lower. Rick recorded a variety of fauna throughout the cave but my list was much more abbreviated. I saw two cave salamanders ( Eurycea lucifuga ), a cave millipede ( Chaetapis sp.) and a lobster sized terrestrial crayfish ( Cambarus sp.). Just outside the entrance we happened upon a Northern water snake ( Nerodia sipedon ) but Bill refused to give it a hug. On the hike to the cave I found a box turtle ( Terrapene Carolina triungui ) and Rick pointed out a white tailed fawn ( Odocoileus virginianus) that Bill and I nearly stumbled over.


75 Skylight entrance in Cueva Esperanza, Isla de Mona, Puerto Rico . Photo by Mike Lace. Photo Gallery


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