ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

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ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby Dave Bunnell » May 25, 2010 12:03 pm

I have a photo I am about to run in the NSS News showing an example of flagging tape that has leached color into flowstone beneath it. I'm trying to find out what brand it was, but its stuff used by the park service in the Grand Wash NM, so its possible other government agencies are buying it too.

Pretty alarming that in doing something to protect a resource, one may actually end up doing just the opposite.

I'm interested in hearing from anyone else that has seen this problem, and if so, can indicate what brands of flagging have this issue.

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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby graveleye » May 25, 2010 12:46 pm

Thank you very much for bringing this up and that's horrible. I'm not a fan of flagging tape - at best a necessary evil.
I was in a cave a couple of weeks ago that had a hideous amount of flagging tape in it. It looked like the remnants of a ticker tape parade. It was tacky, and overkill.
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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby Chads93GT » May 25, 2010 6:09 pm

Plastic or cloth? I have used plastic tape in our river cave project to flag off critically delicate areas that are in the high traffic areas of the cave to save the formations on the floor. I also have about 10 rolls of a cloth type of flagging tape. I have yet to use the cloth type, but it appears that it is probably biodegradable, which is why I haven't took it in the cave. The last thing I want is a ton of fungus growing on things I flag off.
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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby Crockett » May 26, 2010 9:36 am

We use tape that has a logo of Texas as a "watermark". It does not seem to bleed. Some is over 7 years old. Station marking tape has the date, who placed it, and of course the location. Some "Sharpie" ink fades over time. Ink written on tape being absorbed then dispersed might give the appearance that the tape is bleeding. Depending on use or abuse it seems that the benefit of tape exceeds the impact. We are exploring the use of RFID particularly for significant cultural and biological resources. Inertness, range, robustness, and cost are all factors. RFID technology is evolving quickly and becoming mainstream. RFID adoption by cavers seems inevitable but tape, as a visual guide, will continue to have a place for a long time, just like paper. This seems like a no brainer but every piece of tape left in a cave should be marked with who, what, when, where, and why. Maybe doing that would result in more thoughtful placement.
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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby Crockett » May 26, 2010 9:47 am

Looks like Presco is the manufacturer:

http://www.presco.com/home/
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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby chac » May 26, 2010 11:09 am

We have used a few brands of plastic tape, sparingly. One common brand is made by Johnson Level and Tool Mfg., they are at johnsonlevel dot com. Home Depot is one of their distributors. We are also looking for an alternative to flagging tape.

This brand of tape does fade and will turn brittle after about a year. It doesn't bleed that I can tell, however we do have a similar "environmental" problem. The caves in Quintana Roo are full of rodents, and the darn things eat this stuff like candy. I'm sure it is not very good for them. If you do cave in this area, you may spot a few impossibly small tunnels that are well-flagged.
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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby Amazingracer » May 28, 2010 2:32 pm

graveleye wrote:I was in a cave a couple of weeks ago that had a hideous amount of flagging tape in it. It looked like the remnants of a ticker tape parade. It was tacky, and overkill.


Don't go caving out west then.

This is the first I've heard of bleeding tape. Im curious to see the picture and here the back story.
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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby icave » Jun 1, 2010 4:53 pm

Too many problems in Pennsylvania with critters "playing" with flagging tape. It only took one time of picking up pieces from all over a cave to decide to stop using flagging tape. Thanks for the bleed warning though.
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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby Dave Bunnell » Jun 2, 2010 12:16 am

Here is the image of the staining caused by pink flagging tape that will run in the News.
Apparently this is a more common problem than I thought. Val Hildreth, co-author of the NSS Conservation book and our Conservation chair, says its not uncommon to see tape bleed colors when placed on wet or intermittently wet flowstone. Joel DeSpain, who works for the park service as a cave specialist, concurred and mentioned having seen this in Lech. He's also seen it get calcited in on wet flowstone.

One solution Val recommends is to only use white (undyed) flagging on wet flowstone floors.

Click on the thumbnail below for a larger image; this flagging just removed was less than a year old:

Image
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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby Squirrel Girl » Jun 2, 2010 3:34 am

I wonder if it matters if it's biodegradable flagging versus "permanent" plastic flagging?
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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby trogman » Jun 2, 2010 7:00 am

I have to question the use of flagging tape for a couple of reasons. One cave here in TAG (Flowing Stone), has flagging that was placed on the flowstone floor to direct traffic in a certain direction. A couple of years or so after being placed, the flagging was being cemented to the floor by calcite building up on it. As was mentioned by a couple of other posts, the cave rats love the stuff, and I have often seen it chewed up and carried away by the little varmints. I wonder if there isn't a better way to accomplish the same purpose. :shrug:

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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Jun 3, 2010 4:40 pm

We have been using the "Texas watermark" stuff in Lechuguilla for several years. I have not noticed it bleeding, although it has only been in the cave 5-6 years now. A lot of the older blue flagging in there does bleed and turn brittle. Hopefully the Texas stuff will stand the test of time. We definitely leave it in places that no one is ever going back to...
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Re: ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape

Postby Evan G » Jun 3, 2010 11:27 pm

Title wrote:ALERT: Bleeding flagging tape


First thing I thought when I saw the title was,"Better call the Vatican!" or sell it on ebay along with a Frosted Flake that sort of looks Illinois. I still can't believe someone bought the Frosted Flake for $1,350.

Isn't some of the industrial flagging made to purposely biodegrade. I swear I read that somewhere. If I remember right (which ....); that majority of the flagging for construction, etc. is made with some cornstarch mixed into the polymers to help bacteria break the flagging down within 3-5 years. I wish I could remember where I read that....it escapes me.
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