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Apr 5, 2004

COOL GARDEN CAVE 1


Position:
NE Ent: WGS84 - 18 19' 38.4" N, 77 49' 04.2" W
SW Ent: WGS84 - 18 19' 35.1" N, 77 49' 06.9" W (Mud-choked)

Field notes: R. S. STEWART

Cavers: R. S. Stewart, G. van Rentergem, B. Murray, D. Roeber

Time in: 14:15 EST, Time out: 14:45 EST

THREAT VULNERABILITY: High

Cool Garden 1 was the second of four caves visited on this day, after Rudist Rock. Like Rudist, it is one of the subject caves of the St James project.

This was our second visit to the Cool Garden Caves, the previous visit having been Aug 19, 2003, and it was our plan to finish the georeferencing of all of the entrances to all 4 caves, as well as conduct a more thorough assessment. We started with Cool Grd 1.

Upon our arrival at our previous parking spot, in front of a small shop, where on Aug 19 we had returned to our car to find that several items had been stolen while we were in the caves, I made a point of having a serious discussion with the owner of the shop to ensure that we would never be thieved again. It should be noted that the shop owner himself had been with us in the caves during the previous session, his wife left in charge, so he had not been responsible for the theft himself. Still, it was his turf and therefore his problem. He assured me that it would never happen again, and if anyone tried, they would be chopped. We learned later that they had seen us on TV during the Hutchinson's work, and it seemed as though we had acquired a new, higher level of respect. At the end of the day, our car was still secure and in fact it had had someone standing guard over it the entire time.

Because this will be the first of the three notes on the Cool Grd Caves for this day, I will give an overview of these associated caves now:

The four caves are all in close proximity but are separately accessed and cannot be followed underground from one to the other. They do seem to be part of a common hydrological system with Cave 1 upstream and Cave 4 downstream. Unfortunately, the original maps have not been reproduced accurately in JU, with regard to bearings, so we will need to do more work here during the rainy season to redo Bristol's efforts, (we are attempting to track down the original data via Mr Atkinson), but it can be said with some certainty that Cave 1 is the furthest upstream. As a result, it is acting as a silt-trap for the others, and although it has prevented damage to the downstream caves by doing this, it has suffered greatly because of it. Downstream, Cave 4 is the last in the group. In between, we know that the waters that rise from Cave 3 flow through a gully and then some 50 m on sink into the SE entrance of Cave 4. The place of Cave 2, in this scheme, it is still a bit of a mystery for us. We do know that Cave 1 has been silted in the most, and Cave 4 the least.

We did not spend much time inside this cave, but we did have with us a middle-aged gentleman who had been raised in the district, and had been in this cave as a child, who was able to tell me what I most wanted to know; how had this cave changed over the years? As I suspected, because of discrepancies with the published Bristol map, the cave has become filled with silt during the decades by over 50% in the vertical dimension. The gentleman pointed out that the main passage, that is now a muddy crawl, once allowed adults to walk through it. In addition to this valuable information, he knew where the upstream entrance of this cave was and took us above-ground to have a look.

This entrance was not noted by Bristol, apparently because the time of year, and a high water-table, prevented them from going beyond a flooded section indicated on their map as a sump. If the water had been lower, they would have found that the passage extends to what is now a mud-choked sink. The sink, decades ago, was not mud-choked and allowed people to enter the cave from the upstream end. It is unknown whether the entrance had already become choked when Bristol visited.

It was immediately obvious why the cave has been filled in with silt to such an extent; on a hill above, that feeds water down-slope to the entrance, there is a well-cultivated farm, currently in banana. One can appreciate the efforts of of a farmer who is keeping his land well-tended, and thusly increasing his yield and successfully providing for his family, but unfortunately, the complete absence of anything that will keep the soil in place during the rains has caused him to lose a good quantity of his topsoil directly into Cool Garden 1. This is a tricky situation... one cannot press for officials to restore the catchment for Cave 1 to something that will prevent further siltation if it will result in a man losing his farm. Not only would officials not want to do this, but it would be unfair to the man currently working the land.

It would be good to find a way to enable the farmer to continue being a good farmer, while also helping him to keep his topsoil where it should be. We will see if we can come up with a solution.

Biologically, this cave has been destroyed due to siltation and there is nothing worth noting except for a few fruit bats just inside the downstream entrance, and of course, American roaches.

Both entrances are now referenced, with the upstream end being particularly accurate. Because of good satellite orientation and a good horizon, I was able to get a 12 satellite fix, WAAS. The accuracy is probably about +/- 1 m for the point where I stood at the edge of the mud-choked sink.

(Continue to Cool Garden 3)

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