Please help: writing a fiction novel about living in a cave

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Please help: writing a fiction novel about living in a cave

Postby shalon » Oct 11, 2005 7:02 pm

I'm working on a fiction novel and would very much appreciate it if someone could answer a few questions that I have about caves and cave water.

I've researched a bit about caves and have read that cave water is often unpure for drinking. I'm wondering if it's possible for the source of cave 'river' water to come from underground lakes where the water would be pure and maybe also slightly warm (from volcanic activity)? I realize the caves would have to be very deep for that, but that's not an issue. Or does cave water always come from the surface? If so, supposing that there was a lot environmental pollution, is it at all possible (stretch your imagination here) that the process of passing through limstone and soil would clean the water of certain toxins, if it had to pass through a lot of earth before it reached it's running spot?

I would sincerely appreciate any answers or feedback you might have. Maybe you can direct me to someone who can help me better - I would really appreciate it.

Thank you very much,
shalon
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Writing a book about caving???

Postby Ernie Coffman » Oct 11, 2005 7:21 pm

Shalon,

Before you get inundated with replies--maybe???--I have to ask, why do you want to write a book about something that you don't know much about? You're asking questions about water traveling through caves, but...have you ever seen water in a cave? Have you ever been in a cave?

So as not to be too negative about the issue, what part of the country do you live in, so we might assist you in getting with a grotto (club) that might take you on, as a writer of their favorite things on earth? If we knew more about you, we might be able to make up our minds on what you're really into, but...taking on a subject like speleology and not really being into the subject is a humungous chore. Even for a research paper, but...for a book? Wow! Super wow!
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Postby Herman Miller » Oct 11, 2005 7:24 pm

i second that
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Re: Please help: writing a fiction novel about living in a c

Postby Plethodon » Oct 11, 2005 10:12 pm

shalon, Is possible.
Look on the Internet up about Hot Springs National Park, Hot Springs Arkansas. Water at Hot Springs is 3000 years old, comes from underground deep, has radioactivity in slightness, and no Hot Springs the city does not treat most of it -peple drink from public fountains still warm. Is very hot--almost boiling--and only few tiny tiny bugs in it.
Many cities get water from deep ground into water supply without treating. Maybe your person may have testkit with he/she to be sure of Ok to drink. Water in book cave should come from hot spring fountain bubble underground. Get water from near source and cool in clean bucket or something with lid.
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Re: Writing a book about caving???

Postby shalon » Oct 11, 2005 11:21 pm

HI, well, even though you didn't answer any of my questions, I'm still happy that you replied. I'm not writing a book about Speleology. It's a fiction. Does everyone who writes about flying saucers have to have had experience in one?
The part of my book that's taking place in a cave is not the main point of my novel. It's metaphorical. Living in a cave symbolizes to me the potential, the darkness, the unexplored and the connection to the earth.

So, I'm not only interested in caves, per se. But to write a good book, I need to at least sound like I know what I'm talking about.

Yes, I've been in one cave. Of course, I've been in more then that - as a child I was fascinated by them. Like all children I guess. But I've only really been in one big one - in Spain, south of Granada. it was beautiful, and yes, it inspired me.

I live in Canada, in the Okanagan, and yes, I'd love to go explore any caves around here - if you have any connections for me - I'd appreciate it.

I guess i opened a big can of worms by logging onto this forum - but it feels good none the less.
thanks,
shalon
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Postby Herman Miller » Oct 12, 2005 12:22 am

lol our apologies, we really mean the best, like stated a lot of deep aquifers do contain nearly pure water though caves as it is turning out are virtually crawling with tiny critters. About the limestone cleansing the water, well its more to it then that but yes just like a septic system opens to the ground it is purified as it passes through the ground though local geology can effect the overall effectiveness. I forget the exact story and date but national geographic did a story on jews that hid from the nazis during wwII for quite sometime, maybe that would help give you an idea what it would be like to live in a cave
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Postby Plethodon » Oct 12, 2005 12:38 am

I am confused thought I did answer question Shalon looking for in safe warm water source underground. If water is okay, no need for underground lake, or big science xplanation in fiction book.
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Postby Herman Miller » Oct 12, 2005 2:05 am

well i agree with that also plethodon but in "the cave" why explain the workings of a rebreather?
lol i dunno im just trying to give her the best i got
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Postby bigalpha » Oct 12, 2005 8:18 am

I figured that water coming from a cave would be undrinkable because of the high concentration of minerals (calcite) in it. (you'd be pooping stalactites). I guess that if you could tap water that was far below the water table, like in a confined aquifer, or near a source hot enough to disinfect it; then bring it up quick enough, it would be safe to drink.
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Postby speloman » Oct 12, 2005 8:29 am

I don't think that it is the calcite as much as toxins from dead decaying plants, If the cave is on agricultural areas you have pesticdes, bat guano, I would think many things could cause it. But maybe Calcite could be a factor. I would be worried about ecoli if there were agriculture animals around etc.
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Postby JackW » Oct 12, 2005 8:41 am

I'm not an expert on this, but...

Been in several caves that had been used as sources of drinking water at one point in time. Most recent one was used up until the owner found a dead raccoon floating in it. Although that was several years ago, you can still see the pond liner and piping the owner used to draw from the spring.
As for warm water springs and caves, I was in a small cave this year on the UT/NV border that is a warm spring, you can swim into the cave even, although its only 30' long at the most for the air passage. It's the location for the (unofficial) Western chapter of the Randy Gandy Club. :wink: There is a much larger cave at a higher elevation that is likely related to the warm spring activity in the area.

The reason cave water is all to often unfit for drinking is due to biological contamination (crypto is a concern) or septic and agricultural run-off. Brown trout are not a cave adapted species!
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Postby Lynn » Oct 12, 2005 9:23 am

Shalon,

Below are some links that may be beneficial to your research. Also if you google search “karst groundwaterâ€
http://www.flickr.com/groups/cavers CAVERS, CAVES & CAVING PHOTOS
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Postby Plethodon » Oct 12, 2005 9:39 am

bigalpha wrote:I figured that water coming from a cave would be undrinkable because of the high concentration of minerals (calcite) in it. (you'd be pooping stalactites).


Much calcite not a problem. Old ladies broken bone disease (do not know name in english) because of too little calcite. Water softener not to elimenate helth problem but calcite clog pipes leave deposits in zincs. Only if body forms stones is problem. Many minerals good for you--only some poison like arsenica not.
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Postby Squirrel Girl » Oct 12, 2005 9:45 am

The reason you shouldn't drink most cave water is that it it tends to flow through the big cave conduit straight down in next to no time. So all bacteria living on the cow patties, et. al., on the surface get washed in with no time to purify. However, if you catch the drips from stalactites and flowstone, the water is much more pure. It's had to seep much more slowly through tiny voids and is purified (maybe when Hazel gets back from Venezuela she can give an explanation of how that happens). Nevertheless, when we camped underground in Huautla, we'd still chemically purify water from the drips before risking drinking it.

As far as warmed water, it can on rare occasions be found in caves. The example that comes to my mind is a cave in Virgina that has a cold stream and a warm stream that converge. The warm stream is about the temperature of coolish bath water. I believe there is an assumed magma source deep underground there, but I really don't recall the details. Why it's so localized, I don't know.
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Postby George Dasher » Oct 12, 2005 9:52 am

The drinking water problem is not that difficult...

While there is a lot of "old" water in caves and karst around the world, many caves and their streams are pretty shallow.

The water and any contaminants can enter the cave via a sinkhole without much filtration and then have fast travel times through the cave. What goes in, comes out--and quick too.

So what're drinking in a cave isn't filtered groundwater with long contaminant decay times. Rather it is more like surface water that happens to be flowing through a cave.

If there is manure aboveground, then the cave water will be contaminated with manure. Hydrocarbon contamination aboveground, then...

Well, you get the picture.
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