Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

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Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby BrianFrank » Aug 1, 2012 12:30 pm

This past Sunday night around midnight, a rock shelf supposedly collapsed in Pettyjohn's Cave unexpectedly. A group of cavers were on there way to the waterfall by the route of the Pancake Squeeze when it happened. I have been in contact with someone in this group for the details listed here.

I will be by there this Sunday to check it out and if anyone else goes by that area please let us know. The report is as follows:

The group went through the Pancake Squeeze and before they continued their journey to the waterfall, they were resting with their lights off sitting in the creek bed. The group then heard a crash and rumbling sound coming from the area they just exited from. The noise scarred them and they decided to end their trip and go back home. They went back carefully toward the Pancake Squeeze and found that the rock shelf you climb on to either go left to the Z-bends or go straight to the Pancake Squeeze had collapsed. Now, instead of climbing up over you must climb under the new obstruction to continue forward. You can see the fresh brake on the rock and how large the shelf was that broke. As far as the group knows there was no one else in the cave at that time.

I checked with the USGS Earthquake data for that time frame the only remotely possible tremor in the region was a 1.6 magnitude quake in Mississippi at 11:49 PM. That tremor was probably too small and too far away to be the cause. My opinion is that the weight of thousands of cavers over many years had fatigued the rock shelf to finally cause it to fracture.
Last edited by BrianFrank on Aug 1, 2012 1:02 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby trogman » Aug 1, 2012 12:34 pm

:yikes:

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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby BenS » Aug 1, 2012 12:46 pm

I was there yesterday and went past that area, but nothing seemed different. I know that cave very well, but I could have missed something since I wasn't specifically looking for anything like that. I think he probably heard something, but I didn't notice anything that had moved where he described. I'll go again next week to check it out, but I've heard too many rumors about that cave collapsing lately to even trust my best friends. I saw the original post. My guess is that he has little experience in caves and didn't realize that a cave looks different on the way out than it does on the way in. I'll let you know next week though.
Last edited by BenS on Aug 2, 2012 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby BrianFrank » Aug 1, 2012 1:08 pm

Let us know, the noise scarred them. I will be there Sunday checking out another area of the cave and will be going past the Pancake squeeze. I sent you a PM.
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby BenS » Aug 2, 2012 12:21 am

Sounds good. I kinda want him to be right about it because I think it would make things more interesting. What time will you be there Sunday?
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby Patrick Wilson » Aug 7, 2012 8:35 pm

So what's the verdict: Did it happen or didn't it?
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby BrianFrank » Aug 8, 2012 12:35 am

The group that heard the fall can't seem to nail down the exact location on the map.
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby BenS » Aug 8, 2012 1:35 am

The group that heard the fall can't seem to nail down the exact location on the map.

^^^
What he said. It was searched for and nothing was found in the area that they described originally. We're working on figuring out the actual location, but it probably won't happen until someone is able to go with him. He said he lives in the area and offered to go in with one of the guys and show him where it happened.
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby mgmills » Aug 8, 2012 7:17 am

I have been in caves when rockfall happened. It may be far away and sound like it is very nearby. I have been in an area and witnessed rockfall and also heard it in the distance. The most scary was when a flake about 6 inches by 7-8 feet by 3-4 feet fell off a wall and landed less than 6 feet from me.

Caves are not static environments. Things shift and move from time to time. Lots of cave passages were formed by breakdown many,many years ago. . . after all you walk/crawl on and through breakdown. It is always a risk when you go caving.

Also, remember when walking across fresh breakdown that things may move.

Be careful out there.
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Aug 20, 2012 2:54 pm

BrianFrank wrote:The group that heard the fall can't seem to nail down the exact location on the map.

Have you seen the Pettyjohn's map? It's, like, a 50-year-old spaghetti mess with no passage details. Unless they brought a Minotaur with them into the cave, or they go every weekend, there's no way on earth they're going to be able to point at the map and say exactly where they were. Not a valid platform on which to question their credibility.
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby rebelfirefighter » Aug 20, 2012 5:25 pm

Have you seen the Pettyjohn's map? It's, like, a 50-year-old spaghetti mess with no passage details. Unless they brought a Minotaur with them into the cave, or they go every weekend, there's no way on earth they're going to be able to point at the map and say exactly where they were. Not a valid platform on which to question their credibility.

Thats a fact!
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby BenS » Aug 21, 2012 12:39 am

Jeff,
Hubert Crowell has made the original survey maps of the cave public and they are very detailed. I was able to find some of the rooms in the far reaches of the cave because of them. We showed the local who reported the incident those maps and he indicated the exact same spot he described to us. It has been checked multiple times and nothing has been found. If you're interested I'll send you copies of those maps. They're very helpful.

In Brian's defense he never questioned the credibility of the person who reported the incident. He has been more optimistic than anyone else involved. His optimism, kindness, and support encouraged me to give the guy a chance.
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Aug 21, 2012 8:40 am

You can view more of the PJ's maps and survey info on Hubert's page at:

http://www.hucosystems.com/
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby BenS » Aug 21, 2012 9:02 am

Thanks for posting the link. I was too tired last night to try to find it again. If anyone needs help putting the maps together or a description on how to get to a certain area just let me know.
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Re: Rock Shelf Collapse in Pettyjohn's Sun. Night

Postby Yahtaa » Aug 21, 2012 9:03 am

Was in there this last weekend taking some new cavers on the waterfall route. Didn't notice any fresh breakage, or new obstacles.

Totally got 3 new people hooked on caving though.
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