Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

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Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 22, 2013 9:01 pm

An official report on the exploration of Ohio's Marmot Cave was released today. In an article released by the Southern Ohio Association for Study of Outlandishly Boring Stuff (SOASOBS) it was revealed that the worlds smallest cave is now even smaller. Exploration has been ongoing since 1944 when the cave was discovered by a young girl looking for a place to hide a hatchet from her annoying brother. Word of the caves existence soon spread and six years later the first survey expedition was organized. The original map was grossly innacurate due to the fact that the azimuths were guessed, and that there were no backsight guesses. Another attempt at documentation was flawed when the cartographer foolishly added the splay shots to the final survey length, claiming a wild total of 6 1/2 feet of horizontal extent. That length was enough to put the cave among the smallest yet discovered, but it wasn't until the iniquities of the cartographer were realized that cavers began to realize just how small of a cave they were dealing with. Many resurveys were undertaken and performed and the cave gradually came to be recognized as the worlds smallest. The official length stood at exactly 4 feet from 1979 to 2001 as controversy raged over the appropriateness of Marmot's designation as a cave at all. SOASOBS President Randy Loizo announced in 1999 that Marmot had been officially confirmed as a cave under the guidelines set forth by the Ohio Society of Holes, Hollows, and Indentations - meeting all of the following criteria: A Cave must be naturally occuring, recessed from the surface of the surrounding material, enterable by at least the human head, and of an origin other than the uprooting of a tree. In March of 2001, SOASOBS members reacted to the exciting news that a partial collapse had made Marmot even shorter by organizing yet another resurvey effort. The "collapse" was found to be in the form of a single stone at a point in the cave where the passage narrows dramatically. Some theorized that the stone was dragged in by a deranged groundhog, thrown in by a passing child, or birthed from the ground as the result of some mysterious volcanic incongruity. Despite the confusion surrounding the stones origin, there is no question that it is now blocking a passage that one used to be able to insert an arm into, in the case of smaller cavers, all the way to the shoulder. Some of the expedition felt that the stone could be moved and that there was no need for a resurvey. Theo Giesel though, vehemently argued that human manipulation of the cave would be improper, stating that anyone could dig a hole in the hillside, and that moving the rock would jeapordize Marmot's claim to caveness. After much consideration, camp was set up and the latest resurvey was undertaken. The resulting survey and map (shown below) reveal that Marmot Cave is now less than 2 feet long. While it is unclear exactly when the under-2-foot mark was broken, the team feels confident that their latest survey is accurate to within a few sixteenths of an inch. Jonath Carter, who has been involved in the Marmot project for the past 3 decades feels that the cave may have more secrets in store. "As time goes by, redundancy issues are resolved, and survey methods evolve, I think we could well find that the cave is even shorter than we now believe. Also, while rumors of a possible disconnection between the Far Corner and Drip Line are far from being confirmed, I don't think that such a discovery is beyond the range of possibility."


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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby batrotter » Feb 23, 2013 8:17 am

Love it!
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby chac » Feb 23, 2013 12:49 pm

Not that I am an expert, but I understand that if any Whos' are heard near cave rocks in Southern Ohio caves, there is a strong possibility of a substantial lead. I am also intrigued by the cave location stated on the cave map. I had no idea that Abrams County in Southern Ohio was a suburb of a such a large city.

I look forward to further expedition updates.
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby NZcaver » Feb 23, 2013 9:41 pm

Nice! :clap: I remember caving one time with Theo Giesel, but all we did was sit, sit, sit. He he did not like it, not one little bit.
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby Cheryl Jones » Feb 24, 2013 1:45 pm

:rofl: :lmao: :bananaguitar:

But wait! What will happen now that you've published the map on the Internet? Aren't you concerned about the environmental impact of throngs of cavers, spelunkers, mineral collectors, and kids with nothing better to do who will now be drawn to visit the cave? Diggers are probably already making plans to open the small lead at the back, perhaps even doubling the length of the cave.

Hmmm.... maybe you consider gating it?

:tonguecheek:
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 24, 2013 4:21 pm

Cheryl - While has been some history of the cave being used as a hangout by drunken teens, our biggest concern is caver safety. One fear is that a cavers helmet will become wedged in the far reaches of the cave, requiring a rescue that may include rock removal, thus degrading the caves elite status. For this reason the Marmot expedition has long required its participants to work without helmets. It has been a real challenge to balance the unique demands of this cave with the strongly entrenched traditions of cave safety. Especially after the recent "collapse" has called into question the structural integrity of the cave, it has been increasingly difficult to find cavers with a passion for exploration that overpowers their instincts of self-preservation.

Gating was considered, but funding for such a project proved difficult to procure. The private wealth of the cavers involved wasn't sufficient, and SOASOBS as an organization has a policy limiting the use of funds on a single project item to $7. A call for help to surrounding grottos was largely ignored. Likely, this was a retaliatory slight resulting from SOASOBS exclusion of the grotto members from the prestigious Marmot project. As noted by chac, the area surrounding the cave has become increasingly populated since its discovery. This has been beneficial since development has allowed a fellow caver with extremely strong protective passions to live on the property and act as gaurdian of the cave. In fact, he dares anyone to just try and vandalize, litter, break, dig, or loiter and see what happens to them.
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby PYoungbaer » Feb 24, 2013 4:45 pm

Given the population density in the area, and thus the increasingly high likelihood of human disturbance, and the fact this is in a known WNS region, the Center for Biological Diversity has called for the immediate closure of of Marmot Cave. A spokeswoman for the CBD said, "With the recent collapse and inability to check the far reaches of the cavern, no one can say for sure that bats are not now using this site. We cannot take any chances, for to do so would risk the collapse of North American agriculture and forests."
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby John Anthony » Feb 24, 2013 5:56 pm

And to think I spent good money on all those mapping gizmo's and I had an etch-a-scetch all along :clap:
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby Martin Sluka » Feb 25, 2013 8:34 am

:laughing: :clap: :kewl: :bananabat: :banana: :banana_yay: :cavingrocks: :funny post: :funny post: :funny post: :funny post: :funny post:

Good stuff!

Only problem is I have newer been in USA :wink:
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby NZcaver » Feb 25, 2013 3:15 pm

It's nice when 1 of your 3 sources of light is daylight. Reminds me of caving in Maine. :wtg:
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby wyandottecaver » Feb 26, 2013 7:35 pm

I think it is a travesty that a proper survey for cave invertebrates has not been conducted. Certainly by using mark recapture techniques and measuring the observed density of invertebrates per square mm in accessible reaches, one could then estimate the total traversable extent of the cave (by invertebrates) and thus extrapolate whether sufficient cave passage existed to warrant a wider search for additional entrances.
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 26, 2013 10:06 pm

wyandotte - All efforts to document the biology of Marmot Cave have been abandoned since excitement stemming from the discovery of unique life forms was stifled by preeminent biologist Ted Netting's assertion that "rare isopods are a dime a dozen." The matter of using possible invertebrate populations to aid in exploration is one that will be considered.

You're right about Theo, NZ. He's a whiner. I paraphrased his objections in my first report out of respect for the gravity of the announcement, but his actual words were;

Anyone can dig a hole
I could dig one with a pole
You could dig one with a mole
She could dig one with a bowl
But dig with heart and dig with soul
Dig forever! What's your goal?
Is it a cave? Or just a hole?

It gets old on long trips.
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Re: Worlds Shortest Cave Gets Shorter

Postby wyandottecaver » Feb 26, 2013 10:48 pm

I am now even more incensed by the fact that Ted Netting plagerized my comments in another CaveChat Thread! :rofl:
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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