Jackson Young's Cave
Sept 27, 2005
Team: RS Stewart, E Slack, M Taylor
Notes: RS Stewart
Jackson Young's Cave was visited as part of our St James assessment project, which had every findable site in the parish on the target list. It would be the first cave of the expedition, and amongst the last of those in St James that remained to be done.
This cave is listed in Jamaica Underground as being in the Schaw Castle district, near Maroon Town. Although we had known many of the caves in the area for many years, this was one that was not a high priority for us and one that we had left until close to the end. Part of the reason for this was that the information in JU is very limited, "300m south and opposite Chatsworth school. Cave is in Rudist limestone. A descent over boulders to a stream flowing SW in a passage 3m high", and there was nothing to suggest that it was of particular interest, especially compared to nearby sites such as the Peterkin/Rota system, and Cool Garden caves. However, when we finally got to it, it was a very worthwhile visit, and one that was surprisingly easy. The easiness was primarily because it is located a very short distance from our favourite stopping-place in Chatsworth, Miss Donnet's.
Miss Donnet had mentioned a nearby cave several times in the past, but because I was usually there en route to somewhere else, I had not gotten around to looking at it yet (we hear of many more caves than we have time to visit). This day, knowing that Jackson Young's was somewhere in the area, our search of course began at Miss Donnet's. The entire process of finding this cave consisted of the following: we drove up to Miss Donnet's, parked, said "Hey Miss Donnet, how are you darling - you ever heard of a cave called Jackson Young's?", and after several seconds of thought she replied, "Yes... that cave right down in the bottomland, that land used to be owned by Mr Jackson Young. Roy Young, his son, owns it now". A relative of hers was soon assigned to show us where it was, and ten minutes later we were at the entrance (Fig. 1).
A collapse into the side of a low hill, facing west, leads down steeply for a short distance (apx 15m) to intersect an active stream-passage that cuts across from left to right. To the left, northeast, upstream, the passage starts out about 3m high and wide and then lowers in places to about 2m high and the same wide. To the southwest, downstream, it becomes lower more quickly. The passage is developed in hard Rudist limestone with large fossils present. The geology of the area is very particular, as there are layers exposed at the surface made up of, from top to bottom, White limestone, Yellow limestone, Shale, and Rudist limestone. A GIS layer based on the geological map of Ja, found below (Fig. 2), illustrates this. It is apparent that the stream-passage in this cave is running along the strike of the local dip, however, confusingly, the surface topography is rising at the transition from shale to Rudist limestone (folding?) as seen in the 30m DEM (Fig 3).
The source of the stream that flows through this cave is suspected to be in the bottomland on the other side of the road to the east (Fig 3), this on the other side of a low ridge. There is little doubt that the source is associated with a surface feature, as garbage and organic detritus were seen upstream of the entrance, as well as downstream. We were told that the cave never floods to the roof, matching our observations of there being no stranded debris that high. The sink associated with this cave should not be too difficult to find if a little searching is done in the bottomland where it is suspected to be. The destination of the flow is believed to be the Lemy River, at least by those who live in the area, but we are unsure of this ourselves. Ultimately, of course, the flow goes to Deeside.
It should be noted that we were told that the cave was once used as a source of drinking-water, but due to the obvious presence of garbage and roaches, it is no longer.
The most biologically important feature of the cave is a large population of Sesarma fossarum (crabs) perhaps due to the large input of organic detritus. Unfortunately, even though much of the cave is in the dark-zone, few trog inverts were seen. We believe this to be associated with the large numbers of the invasive roach, P. americana, present in the cave. The vector for this invasive is probably the garbage being rafted in during rainy times.
This cave has not been mapped, and indeed the source of the original listing (i.e. first explorers) is unknown. Due to the season when we visited (into the autumn rains), we did not push it. Exploration remains incomplete at this time.
The field-sheets upon which these notes are based were written-up by Elizabeth Slack, with comments contributed by Stewart.
During our stop at Miss Donnet's, we made a point of again asking the name of the child who was tossed into Dead Baby Sinkhole, and this time were sure to write it down. The unfortunate youth was named Ningwong (spelling uncertain), and was in fact 5 or 6 years old at the time.
Figure 3 (Darker=Higher)