Jamaican Caving Notes
Mar 14, 2002
Cavers: S. Koenig, M. Taylor, R. S. Stewart
Field notes: R. S. Stewart
GPS: Entrance is 25 m Az 290 from WPT 104 WPT 104UTM: 0209092 E, 2033124 N LL:18 22’ 05.5” N, 77 45’ 10.4”
We found the entrance very quickly this time after having been totally defeated in Feb. A low opening gives way to a river passage, (dry in Mar), that in a short time comes to the drop to the sump. The passage is very sandy, and shows signs of minor flows through the main seasonal deposits. At the drop, very unusual sand/clay (?) formations are found resembling tubular stalagmites, but when touched, crumble easily. The position seems to indicate a temporary existence, (the river “froths” from the cave, we were told, during the wet season), so apparently these formations grow in a matter of months?! I took 3 pics, (see photo), of them to use for comparison during subsequent visits.
The drop proved to be a bit of a puzzle at first. The obvious larger opening was on the other side of a smaller, sandy, funnel shaped opening. There were no good anchors close by other than a bit of slab sticking out on the west wall, and the traverse around the first opening was on the side of a slippery funnel. I could see what appeared to be a connection from the funnel to the main drop chamber so I had Susan and Malibu belay me and I headed down. It turned out to be an easy scramble. Susan followed, then after a bit, Malibu, (he’d tied the rope to the slab at the top that I’d eyed before).
On a slope at the start of the sump passage, there is a remarkably well-defined area of rounded, river pebbles of uniform size, (at the surface), ~3 x 5 cm in size. There is no sign of them spreading into the sump passage below. We took the sump passage and found one crab, (Sesarma Verleyi by the looks of it), in a pool not far in. A small amount of water was trickling into the sump passage. We turned back when we were faced with wet boots, (probably just short of the sump), and made our way back out.
The reverb/hang time of sound was very long in one stretch of the sump passage. Numerous brown roach-like (?) inverts were seen in the upper part of the cave. The opening to the sump which is located on the south side of the main passage just inside the entrance, (on JU map), is now blocked by a rock slab ~1.2 x 1 m x 30 cm thick. The drop described in JU is visible through 20 cm gaps around the edges but access will require moving the slab. It is definitely new since Bristol survey in 1967 and it appears to have fallen from the wall directly above the opening.
Aug 21, 2002
Cavers: R. S. Stewart, M. Taylor, I. C. Conolley
Field notes: R. S. Stewart
GPS: Wpt 001, 002. Entrance is 12 m, Az 265º (true), from wpt’s.
The Duppy was home.
Mallie, Ivor and I drove over to Duppy cave. The drive was fine via Fontabelle and although the Flagstaff Road was even more beaten up than June, the Lada handled it well. Before we went in I got a very good GPS WAAS position 12 metres, (paced), from the entrance.
The cave from the very start was much muddier than Mar 14; the heavy June rains had evidently brought the river up enough that it had deposited thick fresh sticky mud over most formerly clean rock. The water that pools in the trough 30m into the cave was about 50 cm higher, demonstrating the continuing high rainfall. Since our arrival on the 17th there had been regular afternoon rain.
We made our way through the initial low section, picking up kilos of mud as we went, and soon after the righthand choked passage we heard a sound ahead of us much like that of water siphoning down a sink. It wasn’t surprising considering the rain we’d had. It continued as we approached the drop then stopped exactly when we reached the edge. Only momentarily nonplussed, we tied the rope to the slab we’d used before and I headed down. As soon as I was off the rope, I went ahead to see where the water was and found it at the bottom of the pebble slope, much higher than it was in March. In the 10 minutes that I sat there waiting for Malibu and Ivor, I heard several very low-pitched booming sounds coming from the passage but no more siphoning. Nicely enough, it started up just as Malibu and Ivor reached me.
An echoing sound like we’d heard at the top began and went for 1 ½ min, (timed), then stopped. Three and one-half minutes later it resumed and went for slightly longer. Three and one-half minutes later it resumed once again, went for close to two minutes and then stopped. I thought I’d found a nice repeating pattern, (though I didn’t understand why it hadn’t happened for the 15 minutes it took for us to all get down the drop), and watched the time coming up for the next one, confidently telling Malibu and Ivor, “alright here it comes….”
Shortly after I’d reached where I sat, I’d noted the water level at a couple of spots to watch if it started to rise. As we sat, and the time approached six minutes without us hearing anything, I looked down to check the water level. It was down over 15 cm. I began to time it. At about this time the sound of siphoning started up again, louder and lasting twice as long. The water in the flooded passage dropped another three cm. We began to mark the water level, with Ivor reaching down and planting matchsticks at the waterline in a good spot, and were able to see it visibly drop as we watched. The noise now began again with a new repertoire, and as we sat and listened to irregular rounds of gurgling and banging, with an occasional bass line of low booming sounds, we watched the water level fall at 1 cm/min. We watched one matchstick that was thrown in drift slowly away in a current that receded into the cave. By the time we decided to head back up, the water had fallen ~60 cm, at a very constant rate, in the 60 minutes that I timed it. The soundtrack that accompanied this disappearance of water was very cool. There was a nice bit toward the end that sounded like someone running up the flooded passage towards us.
Getting up the drop was much more difficult than March. The mud made it very hard to get any good footing. It went quickly enough anyway and we soon had the rope up and made our way out.
A sesarma verleyii was seen part way up the drop. American roaches were present.
Aug 25, 2002
Cavers: R. S. Stewart, M. Taylor, Elyse and Harlan Stewart, Ray
Field notes: R. S. Stewart
The water level had fallen ~2m since the 21st. We all successfully got down the drop, the kids being webbed, tied in and lowered, the rest of us using the rope as a handline and sliding down through the mud. We were able to head along the now much drier lower passage for ~15m further than the 21st.
At the edge of a little drop into a clear pool, we sat and listened. Only occasional sounds were heard this time, but interestingly, one was directly under where we sat, in the rock below us. It seemed as though it might have been the nearer of the sources of noise that we’d heard the previous time. We spent close to an hour there, the kids enjoying the, for them, bizarre environment, (this was only their second cave), then made our way back out.
The ascent went fine; I went first then hauled the kids up while Malibu helped them from lower down on the slope. N.B. The slab that now covers the opening to the sump, soon inside the cave, seemed slightly lower than March, (see notes for Feb/Mar).
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