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June 16, 2004

BLUE HOLE GLADE CAVES


Positions: WGS84
Cave 1: 18 16' 12.7" N, 77 48' 59.9" W, +/- 15m
Cave 2: 18 16' 15.9" N, 77 49' 02.5" W, +/- 15m
Cave 3: 18 16' 16.6" N, 77 49' 02.5" W, +/- 15m
Cave 4: 18 16' 16.7" N, 77 49' 02.5" W, +/- 15m
Cave 5: 18 16' 17.2" N, 77 49' 01.0" W, +/- 15m
Cave 6: 18 16' 17.9" N, 77 49' 01.1" W, +/- 15m

Field notes: R. S. STEWART

Cavers: R. S. Stewart, D. K. Roggy, E. Slack

Time in: 13:00 EST, Time out: 16:00 EST

THREAT VULNERABILITY: Medium

The Blue Hole Glade Caves were visited as part of the St James Assessment Project, on June 16/04, after our entry into the north entrance of Niagara River Cave. The district had been visited by the Jamaican Caving Club in 1970, and a series of sinks, plus two short loop caves, had been noted. Flood waters in the glade were thought to feed into Niagara River Cave, and after our excursion during the June rainy-season, it can be said with a fair degree of certainty that this is indeed the case.

Our search of the glade was not exhaustive, but we did find six caves, including a resurgence that was not noted by the JCC in 1970, presumbably because it was a dryer time of year and it was not active. To assist in the location of the caves, by cavers or hydrologists in the future, I am attaching a topo section with the positions indicated. The numbering of the caves is somewhat arbitrary, but should serve to differentiate between the six. It must be noted that due to trees, and hills on all sides, it was very difficult to obtain GPS positions in the glade, and the accuracy shown above reflects this. Nonetheless, the latitudes and longitudes are in the ballpark, and the orientation is correct. By use of a GPS and the topo section, the caves can be easily located.

Cave 1:

Although this cave was the last of the six found, I have numbered it as Cave 1, because it is the one that is most intriguing and deserving of a repeat visit. It was actively resurging, during the time of our visit, into a streambed that flowed towards the south, unfortunately not followed due to lateness of the day and the fact that we had been rained on for several hours at that point, at times by torrential downpours. I did, though, make a foray into the cave, wading and squeezing through a narrow passage, that carried a fast outward flowing stream, for about 10 metres. The passage continued, but I did not.

The entrance faces apx 200 deg, and is found on the east side of the glade, across from the saddle over which one crosses to reach the glade.

If one looks at the map, it will be seen that the stream that takes the waters of the resurgence must again go underground, since there is large hill in front of it, and no way around. In fact, where it presumably disappears is directly over Niagara River Cave. Another look at the map will show that upstream of the cave, to the north, the bottomland of the glade swings around to intersect the flow, but again, we did not get to that part of the glade to see what was going on. Where the waters of this resurgence come from, and where they go, is a personal mystery that I intend to resolve at some point in the future.

Cave 2:

Cave 2 is a shelter cave, about 10 m wide and 6 high, with a smaller narrow chamber extending further into the hill at least 10-15 m, with this back section in the dark zone. There is nothing particularly notable about it, (other then it serves as a good place to get out of the rain), but I didn't crawl/squeeze to the very end, so it might be worth another quick look. It is found on the west wall of the glade and the entrance faces 45 deg.

Cave 3:

This is the other interesting cave of the six, and is found about 20 m north of Cave 2, on the west side of the glade. If one enters the glade by way of the saddle closest to the road, and then turns north to skirt the hill on the west side, this will be the second cave found, after Cave 2.

A small entrance, about a metre wide and two high, is found above boulders, and a sink for a stream that was flowing during the time of our visit lies before it. Once inside, the passage widens to a couple of metres and takes the waters of the sink in a flowing stream that heads into the hill. The trend is soon westerly, and the passage continues, with occasional bifurcation, for about 50 m, until a circular, dome-shaped, chamber is reached, about 6 wide. Here, another passage joins from the far side, also carrying a stream. The dome-shaped chamber held a deep pool, that spiralled like water in a sink, as the flow from both passages disappeared into the depths. This was very cool. Dietrich and I had made the journey to this section, and neither of us had an inclination to try to cross the spiralling pool, it looking rather like one could be sucked down to a certain death if you weren't using a rope for the traverse. I must note again that we were in the rainy-season, and it had been raining heavily outside when we entered. We turned around, and headed back out.

This cave was the most interesting of the six, biologically. Sesarma, (crabs), and Neoditomyia farri, (predaceous fly larvae), were present.

The cave is carved in hard cretaceous limestone, with rudist fossils present as circular/oval cross-sections on the passage walls, much like the nearby Nodewood Cave 2.

The streams that disappear at the dome-shaped chamber are likely feeding into Niagara River Cave.

Cave 4:

This cave is found immediately to the north of Cave 3. It seems to be one of the loop caves noted by the JCC. A passage heads into the hill, turns north, and then back east to exit a short distance north of the first entrance. It held water during the time of our visit.

Cave 5:

Found on the east side of the glade, about 120 m north of Cave 1. A passage runs for about 10-15 m into strongly-bedded limestone. Nothing notable.

Cave 6:

Found on the east side of the glade, about 20 m north of Cave 5. An entrance about 1 m wide, and 2 high, widens to 3 m wide and 3 high in what appears to be an old stream-passage. This runs easterly into the hill, then slopes down, to end after about 20 m in a muddy sink. On the north side of the main passage, Elizabeth managed to squeeze through an opening far enough to see another small chamber ahead.

It looks like this cave takes water at times, judging by the mud at the end, but the entrance is a couple of metres above the glade floor, so the source of the flow was a mystery. Given its location on the east side of the glade, it would be expected that it would be a resurgence, rather than a sink, so perhaps water rises here during times of very heavy rain.

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