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June 14, 2004

FLAMSTEAD CAVE


Position: WGS84 - 18 19' 55.1" N, 77 49' 29.2" W, +/- 5m

Field notes: R. S. STEWART

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

Time in: 13:00 EST, Time out: 13:45 EST

THREAT VULNERABILITY: Medium

Flamstead Cave was the second of the day, after Pumphouse Cave. Both were on our list of targets for St James and we were assisted in the location of these caves by Ecleston Waites, an employee of the water commision.

Like Pumphouse Cave, Flamstead is also being used as a source of water and has a concrete catch-basin and pumphouse at the resurging entrance. The two are also similar in being to the NE, and downslope, of a nearby secondary road. Both entrances face 35 deg true. Both caves are in hard cretaceous limestone with strata of chert. This similarity is interesting because the two caves are separated by 1.5 km, with Flamstead at a bearing of 20 deg true from Pumphouse.

An entrance of several metres width and height leads over boulders to a flowing stream-passage that enters from the left and flows past to the right to exit through boulders about 10 m further on. To the left, a passage about 6 m wide and several high, with water about 1 m deep, leads upstream. I waded up the narrowing river, scouting for about 30 m, while D and Elizabeth waited near the entrance. The degree of water flow and the fact that it was June suggested that we not penetrate too far into the cave this day, so I limited my observations to the outer part of the cave. The passage that I was in is listed as running for 200 m until it finally sumps, so there is quite a bit more that we haven't seen.

Like Pumphouse, Sesarma verleyi were present but there were no terrestrial cave-inverts that I saw. There was also no decent roosting space for bats and none were seen. Chert was noted, showing that the rock that held the cave was cretaceous, evidenced also by the strong bedding-planes.

The floor of the passage, underwater, was covered with thick silt deposits to the point where I floated myself along the wall of the passage not wanting to step in this mud for fear that I would sink away into it. This is one thing about the cave that is different from Pumphouse... there was very little silt in the latter. Either there is stronger filtering upstream in Pumphouse or the catchment for Flamstead, (unknown location), is highly-cultivated and feeding a lot more silt into this underground river. The presence of a pumphouse at Flamstead Cave suggests that it would be advisable to find the upstream source of the river and examine the exterior conditions; if a cultivation is the culprit, perhaps something could be done to limit the siltation into this cave.

A good GPS position was taken and we called it a day. I was still feeling the effects of Volcano Hole the day before.

It should be noted that Ecleston claimed that several "Germans" had entered this cave several years ago and come out miles away. We've heard this kind of story many times in the past, usually about caves that we know for a fact to dead-end, but who knows... if any German cavers read these notes, and this story rings a bell, please contact me.

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