Formation Choke

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Postby wyandottecaver » Nov 15, 2007 6:15 pm

well,

one perspective is that we are primarily talking about human access to an area they currently can't. To simplify the initial discussion I will exclude those circumstances where the modification might result in negative impacts on other living species like altered airflow etc.

setting aside impacts to organisims, most people tend to evaluate things based on their experiances or those shared by others. if no one can get to a section of cave beyond the flowstone does it even "exist" in terms of our evaluation of it.

I will use Rumbling Falls as an example. (Even though I dont think modification was an issue here) Before the upstream continuation was pushed, this was just another mediocre TAG pit. Nothing that special. Because we didn't KNOW about the rest of the cave it didn't figure into our perception of the cave. Would we have cared about a new Sewage plant? would non cavers have cared without the dramatic photos, biological studies etc? In both cases our values were based on that which we could experiance.

In short, is the question really does a cave or passage no one has ever seen matter? and thus is there really any reason NOT to modify a passage that prevents human entry? Or, is there value to knowing there are some places man hasn't been. Value in something outside what we as humans can experiance ourselves?
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Postby mgmills » Nov 15, 2007 8:03 pm

tncaver wrote:Martha,
I helped with the dig you are referring to on one trip only,
but the dig is not mine. A fellow in the
Nashville Grotto was working it. I don't know if he is still working
on it or not. It has no airflow whatsoever. That does not mean it
won't go, but dramatically lowered my expectations when I saw it.
If Lonnie told you that dig is mine, he is mistaken.
If tools are still there, then someone must still be digging on it.
However, not I. If you are interested in that dig I can give you
the contact info for that fellow. Mark Joop also has a dig going
on in the cave and I think a trip is scheduled to go there soon.
Maybe this weekend.

I helped Mark Joop dig on the "Joop Loop" dig which did go.
It had only a very slight amount of airflow.
Most of my personal digs are surface digs. :grin:


Sorry to veer :off topic: I'm more of a surface digger myself. More specifically a rock mover. I wasn't overly impressed with the dig's potential. I climbed up on the ledge and didn't feel any air. I elected not to crawl up the passage in that gypsum sand. I had a personal e-mail since my post that told me who the dig "owner" is. I know him and I'll leave him to it.

Back to the original topic. Each cave is different. Each caver would have to decide for his or her self what to do. In the absence of air flow I'd probably leave it be. It there was air flow before proceeding I'd evaluate the potential for more cave. Elevation of the cave/passage, type of limestone, nature of the rest of the cave, nature of other caves in the general area.



Edited for spelling and to add comment related to original topic.
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Postby boreholio » Nov 15, 2007 11:17 pm

Wyandotte caver wrote:

"I will use Rumbling Falls as an example. (Even though I dont think modification was an issue here) Before the upstream continuation was pushed, this was just another mediocre TAG pit. Nothing that special. Because we didn't KNOW about the rest of the cave it didn't figure into our perception of the cave. Would we have cared about a new Sewage plant? would non cavers have cared without the dramatic photos, biological studies etc? In both cases our values were based on that which we could experiance. "


Actually, we organized a NSS Conservation Task Force, did a lot of work and got a $3000 grant from the NSS to fund the initial legal battle against the sewage plant long before the self described Rumblers decided to inform us of their finds. In fact, they waited until the night before the water quality board hearing to even inform us when it was effectively too late to do much good. Their leader admitted in the Sports Illustrated article that they were greedy. I understand their wanting to keep their discoveries under wraps up until the point that they knew there was environmental threat. However, as it happened, a long and costly legal battle ensued. If they had come forward as soon as they realized the threat we would have had a much better chance of convincing the town of Spencer to utilize a surface application method similar to the one at nearby Sewanee.

Unfortunately, while we were ultimately successful in preventing the sewage from being discharged into Rumbling Falls ( at least until the almost inevitable leak, overflow or other failure occurs), we didn't really win as the sewage was merely diverted from the east to the west side of the mountain into the many caves and the underground drainage of Long Fork Creek. The town is now building a pipeline to Great Falls Lake which will bypass all the karst but that is still a long ways from being completed. Too bad that wasn't done in the first place.

Now we did know there was a huge cave system there as we had already discovered over 10 miles of passages in three other caves ( about half of which was found by various digging methods) on the downstream end and John Hoffelt had previously conducted a dye trace from Dry Fork to Swamp Spring. In all likelihood however, there is a significant cave system in every drainage off of the Cumberland Plateau so any karst area is really not suitable for the typical treat and dump sewage disposal system.

Wyandotte caver also wrote:

"In short, is the question really does a cave or passage no one has ever seen matter? "

A passage that no one has ever seen definitely matters to me. I spend most of my caving time looking for them! (':grin:')


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Postby tncaver » Nov 16, 2007 9:22 am

boreholio wrote:
"A passage that no one has ever seen definitely matters to me. I spend most of my caving time looking for them! ('Very Happy')

Same here.
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Postby wyandottecaver » Nov 16, 2007 1:48 pm

boreholio, your points are well taken. But my question was, if no one had discovered the rumble room and the rumbling river, would there be a sewer plant dumping sewage on that side of the mountain today? it is my perception (perhaps mistaken) that those discoveries and the subsequent publicity did have a direct impact on what was done, thereby increasing conservation of that cave if not others. Thus the question: is there a compelling reason NOT to modify passages so long as direct harm to biological organisims is not a factor?
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Postby boreholio » Nov 16, 2007 3:33 pm

Of course we'll never know but as I said we already had a major effort underway to stop the sewage plant. Additionally, I don't think the legal ruling that stopped the plan to dump into Dry Fork was due to RFC specifically but due to improper procedure. But I do think the publicity and particularly the photos of RFC helped increase the pressure to stop it.

I suppose there could be a reason other than biological not to modify a passage such as fear of destabilizing the cave or passage beyond our ability to re-stabilize but I've never had that reason or any other that I can think of offhand.
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Postby Ralph E. Powers » Nov 16, 2007 3:43 pm

wyandottecaver wrote:In short, is the question really does a cave or passage no one has ever seen matter? and thus is there really any reason NOT to modify a passage that prevents human entry? Or, is there value to knowing there are some places man hasn't been. Value in something outside what we as humans can experiance ourselves?

With places on the planet that have yet been untrodden by the footsteps of man/men/mankind caves offer that last vestige of virgin exploration. However as the years pass we are learning and have learned that sometimes it's not always necessary.
To leave a little bit of mystery in our own (personal) lives can make for an additional boost to life. Like I said, I've seen a few very pushable passages that were choked by the beauty that our beloved caves offer us. Would I want to destroy such beauty that took a millennia to form? Is it really something I need in my life to know if such passage(s) indeed go and can significantly (or not) add to the cave's length/depth?
It depends upon the goal.
In the push of Main Drain (of which --sadly -- I was not a part) I'm sure they came across such obsticals, because their goal was to see if this one would exceed the current depth record of the state, they did. But I'm not sure if any formations were sacrificed to achieve this goal. If I know the cavers that pushed the cave, and I do... well; then I'm sure they found ways NOT to create such sacrifices.

I think your own personal ethics & sense of conservation will make the final determination of whether those soda straws or helectites or gypsum flowers are worth the possibility of more cave beyond them. Stals are fragile yes but more rigid than their younger selves.
Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible. ~ Reinhold Messner


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Postby tncaver » Nov 16, 2007 4:42 pm

For the record. The only modifications that that I know of
at RFC was the installation of bolts to rig ropes to and they
were added well after the cave's discovery.

State agencies were making an effort to ignore the law concerning
outside stream quality in Dry Fork Creek.
I'm sure the discovery of multiple new species and the huge
cave probably had an impact on revamping the sewer plans.
For that I am glad. It took the efforts of the Nashville Grotto,
a pro bono lawyer from the grotto, and several cave biologists
to sway a judge who finally made the right decision to protect
the cave and the tier ll stream outside. I'm glad that my efforts at
ridge walking contributed to protection of the water quality of
the area. I only wish the town of Spencer had seen the light
and voted for the land application method of sewage disposal.
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Postby tncaver » Dec 19, 2007 9:16 am

Well, I guess I should also include the huge boulder at the top of
the Rumble Room that someone shoved off into the void. That
was also a modification. Probably made the Rumble Room rappel
a lot safer and provided more room at the top of the drop.
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Postby Ralph E. Powers » Dec 19, 2007 11:24 am

tncaver wrote:Well, I guess I should also include the huge boulder at the top of
the Rumble Room that someone shoved off into the void. That
was also a modification. Probably made the Rumble Room rappel
a lot safer and provided more room at the top of the drop.

That must've made a hellva noise falling 202 feet and hitting the bottom. Still I wouldn't call that a modification as more of a safety enhancement for future cavers. I've rapped down drops with big rocks looking like they would make their descent if you just gave them a dirty look. Scary stuff to be sure.

Dunno if placing bolts could be considered a modification. I mean yes it's artificially enhancing the cave but it's an enhancement and it means better safety for the cave itself since would-be rescuers will travel better through the cave than without.
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Postby tncaver » Dec 19, 2007 11:30 am

The bottom line is that Rumbling Falls Cave was not dug open. It had a
natural entrance that required no enlargement. Only one little
crawlway was dug on to facilitate the larger members of the
exploratory group.

However, anything done to a cave by humans, that permanently alters
it's natural state before human visitation is a modification. Even nature
may modify a cave from it's last known state of existence. Example:
landslide that blocks an entrance. For that matter, constant dripping
water will modify a cave over time.
Modification includes bolts, moving rocks, gates, digging, footprints, etc.
Some modifications may enhance safety, some may provide additional passages, and some just keep everyone out or provide protection of the cave's assets. Still those are all modifications. Some mods are minor
and some are not so minor.
I don't consider minor modifications to be a problem in most cases.
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Postby Teresa » Dec 20, 2007 8:25 am

Caves are the rock of the planet slowly decomposing of their own accord.

Relax about 'the pristine planet' and use your brain as a reality check if you want to help the process along or not.
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Postby SpeleoRover » Dec 21, 2007 9:07 pm

Being, ummm... 'circumferentially enhanced' as I am, I run into chokes all the time. Se la vie is all I can say. I turn back.
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Postby graveleye » Dec 24, 2007 4:40 pm

I've been toying with an idea. I've been thinking about getting one of those RC trick cars, but the kind you have a tether attached to control it. Lengthen the tether to 50 feet or so, and mount a camera and light to it. Send her in and see if it goes. I have a couple of chokes right now that I would like to see what might be beyond.
Anyone ever done that before?
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Postby wyandottecaver » Dec 24, 2007 5:23 pm

nope. However, you might check with some local sewer/plumbing guys. they make a nifty "camera on cable" setup that you can feed into small places like sewers or caves :) the fisheye camera has it's own light and is rugged, being designed to inspect sewer pipes. the focus field is pretty short but at least you can see if more attention is warranted.
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