Jamaican Caves Organisation

To: ALPART, NEPA, WRA

April 5, 2007

We, the undersigned, would like to bring to your attention our concerns regarding the effects of bauxite mining on the speleological sites of the Newport area of southern Manchester (including Cross Keys, Old England, and other nearby districts). You will find attached to this letter a report that documents the effects, and supplies specific recommendations.

Please be advised that the report is based on rapid assessment techniques, and provides baseline data only. There was no sampling carried out of cave obligate species.

To explain how we became aware of the effects of bauxite mining on the caves of Newport:

In March 2006, our group, the Jamaican Caves Organisation (JCO), established a new depth record (194m) for Jamaican caves at Smokey Hole Cave, Cross Keys. This was done at the invitation of the local community. Although the site had been noted by the Geological Survey Department (GSD) in the 1960’s, and entered occasionally by people of the district, it had never been thoroughly explored.

Subsequent to our discoveries at Smokey Hole, searches of the pertinent literature suggested that we would find other deep, unexplored caves north of Cross Keys, near Newport. Accordingly, we visited the district for several days in June 2006. It soon became apparent that at least some of the historically noted sites had been affected by mining. A decision was then made to carry out a rapid assessment of the speleological sites of the area, employing methods that had already been used by us, under NEPA permit, on major projects in St James (Stewart 2003-2004), and the Cockpit Country (TNC-J - Stewart 2005). Three periods of fieldwork were devoted to the task, in June 2006, October 2006, and February 2007.

In March 2007, while researching land ownership in the project area, we learned that Smokey Hole Cave, the site that had first prompted our investigations in Newport, is on, or very close to, ALPART lands, in SML 167. We have attached a separate report on Smokey Hole as Appendix 1.

We respectfully ask that ALPART, NEPA, and the WRA, examine the attached report, consider our recommendations, and reply to our concerns.

We also ask that an immediate moratorium be placed on mining within a radius of 250m of the entrance to Smokey Hole Cave. We consider it to be an important part of Jamaica’s natural heritage, and deserving of protection.

Ronald Stefan Stewart (Chair – JCO; Principal Investigator – Inventory and Assessment of the Caves of St. Ann, Jamaica; Principal Investigator – Monitoring of the Caves of the Cockpit Country, Jamaica),

Jan Pauel (Council - JCO)

Guy Van Rentergem (Council – JCO)

Dr Alan G. Fincham (Author – Jamaica Underground),

Dr Donald McFarlane (Professor of Biology, Keck Science Center)


________________________________________________________________________________________


The Caves of Newport and Old England, Manchester

R. S. Stewart

Jamaican Caves Organisation



Click for full size

Map 1: The known caves of Newport, Manchester, as of 1977


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Contents:

Introduction

Methods

Results:

Blenheim Cave-1
Blenheim Cave-2
Blenheim Cave-3
Wales Cave 1
Wales Cave 2
Blenheim Triangle Cave 2
Snowdon Sinkhole
Isles Sinkholes
Welkin Cave 1
Welkin Cave 2
Site #356
Site #357
Site #358
Standpipe Cave
Newport Square Cave
Site #362
Site #363
Brokenhurst Cave
Pussclaw Hole

Conclusions:

Current conditions
Degradation processes
Recommendations
Monitoring

Acknowledgements

Literature Cited

Maps:

Map 1: The known caves of Newport, Manchester, as of 1977, via Jamaica Underground (Fincham 1997), plotted on 1:50,000 Metric Series Sheet 16. [Cover page.]
Map 2: Investigated sites – Newport. GPS-derived positions plotted on 1:50,000 Metric Series Sheet 16.
Map 3: Investigated sites – Old England. GPS-derived positions plotted on 1:50,000 Metric Series Sheet 16.
Map 4:Investigated sites plotted on ALPART Mining Operations Map.
Map 5: The known caves of southern Manchester, as of 1977, via Jamaica Underground (Fincham 1997), plotted on ALPART Mining Operations Map

Appendix 1:

Smokey Hole Cave


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Introduction

In March of 2006, a JCO team consisting of RS Stewart, G Van Rentergem, I Conolley, E Slack, A Hyde, K Borstad, B Gottgen, W Francis, and R Hendricks visited Cross Keys, south Manchester, to follow up on a report of a deep, unexplored cave that had been received from R Reid, an expatriate Jamaican who had been raised in the area. This visit resulted in the JCO establishing a new depth record for Jamaican caves at Smokey Hole Cave, on March 26. The surveyed depth was 194m, which exceeded the previous record of 186m at Morgans Pond Hole, also in Manchester.

After the conclusion of the expedition, research was done into the possibility of finding other deep, unexplored sites in the area, with our tools being the second edition of “Jamaica Underground” (JU), a large book by Alan Fincham that records information for most of the exploratory work carried out prior to the mid 1990's, and ArcView 3.1, which was used to plot the coordinates of the listed sites on digitized copies of the 1:50,000 Metric Topo Series of maps (refer to Map 1). It soon became apparent that there were indeed other sites that offered potential for exploration, with the majority of these having been recorded by McGrath of the Geological Survey Department of Jamaica (GSD) from 1954-66, and located in the Newport area, some kilometres to the north of Cross Keys. Accordingly, plans were made to visit the Newport district during the next expedition, which would take place in June 2006.

In June 2006, a JCO team spent several days in the Newport district attempting to locate the sites that were listed in Jamaica Underground. By the end of the first day, June 7, it was realized that at least some of the sites had been located in areas that had been mined for bauxite by ALPART, and they no longer existed. By the time the JCO team left the district, on June 10, only one cave had been found that still existed in something resembling its original form, this made up of a 68m-deep series of descending chambers located north of Wales House, with the entrance in a deep, small cockpit surrounded by land that had been mined and then reclaimed (it was believed at the time that it might be the previously unexplored Wales Cave). All of the others that had been searched for had been either filled in, or were being used as trash-pits and were partially blocked with plastic and metal. Even at the one relatively undisturbed site, north of Wales House (referred to as Wales Cave 2 in the rest of this report), marl had been pushed quite close to the edge of the sinkhole that contains the cave entrance during land reclamation, and the material was found to have fallen and washed-in to the very bottom of the cave, at 68m. It had not completely blocked access to the lowermost point, a sump in a medium sized chamber, but it is not known if the sump was originally part of the cave, or whether it has formed because of blockage further down by marl and silt.

After the June expedition, it was decided that a return visit to the district would take place in October of 2006 to assess the extant sites of Newport, and determine exactly what remained and what had been lost. The processes involved in the loss of previously listed speleological sites would also be investigated, documented, and described.

In October of 2006, four days were spent in the Newport district. The report that follows is based on that visit, and the previous one that took place in June. It is based on first-hand evidence, interviews with long-time residents, and answers given to us by equipment operators who are involved with the land reclamation that takes place after mining has been concluded. The JCO believes that it presents an accurate picture of the effects of bauxite mining on the caves of Newport.


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Methods

Before the field visits (Jun and Oct, 2006), Jamaican Cave Register positions, as found in JU, were plotted on digitized, referenced copies of sheets 11 and 16 of the 1:50,000 Metric Topo Series using Arcview 3.1. This allowed easy identification of the subset of Register sites that comprised the intended targets, that is, those JU listed sites within 3 to 5km of the Newport Square1. This target list was then used to examine the information available in the JU text entries for the chosen sites. The priority was caves reported to have unexplored vertical pitches, but all of the JU entries for the project area were consulted, and all of the sites were potential targets. Finally, Arcview 3.1 was used to print copies of the maps with target coordinates plotted, for field-use.

Once in the field, initial exploration was carried out by driving to the approximate locations of the target sites (i.e. as close as the roads allowed), and then attempting to find old-time residents who might have pertinent information (for some of the sites, it was immediately obvious that they no longer existed2). This approach was successful for many of the target sites, but for several that were listed to be in the midst of a large, section of scrubby bush (Blenheim Triangle caves 4, 5, 6), no old-time residents could be found who knew the area3.

The sites on the target list that were found were assessed using the methods established for the caves component of the Parks in Peril Project (Stewart 2005), which include the recording of base-line data for position (GPS-derived with accuracy of +/-5 to15m), biology (bats, cave-adapted invertebrates, and some troglophiles), hydrology (wet or dry, with details of flow, water-levels, and siltation for wet caves), archaeological resources (evidence of Taino use), degree of human disturbance (visitation, guano mining, use of bottle-torches), input of trash (carried, dumped, rafted), vandalism (speleothem damage, graffiti), and vulnerability (current or future threats), amongst other factors. These data were recorded on standard JCO field assessment sheets. In addition, general comments were recorded on the field-sheets, which served as the core for accounts of the visits written later.

After the end of the expedition, the information obtained during the fieldwork was moved into spreadsheets in two versions – a .dbf for positional work in ArcView 3.1, and an .xls for more general use. The GPS-derived positions acquired during the fieldwork were then compared with the JU plots for the previously listed sites. Matches that had not been determined in the field were then made, when possible, by comparing the JU descriptions with what we had recorded on our field-sheets.


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Results:

This section presents the assessment data gathered during the JCO fieldwork carried out in June and October of 2006, and associated data found in the historical records as received by way of Jamaica Underground.

Information is presented for the individual sites in chronological order, based on our fieldwork. The format for each site is first a table based on the datasheets, and then notes and comments. For those sites that have been determined to no longer exist, all information is from JU, unless the cell is noted as from (2006).

Maps with the cave locations plotted will be found at the end of the document.



Blenheim Cave-1
Jun 7, 2006 - 12:00-14:00 EST
[Believed to no longer exist. Primary data source JU.]

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: N/A

 

JAD69: 195600 E, 144200 N

JAD2001: N/A

Altitude: 740m JAD69

Accuracy: +/- >100m horizontal; +/- >25m vertical

Type: Simple shaft

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Undetermined

Length: Undetermined

Explorers: GSD - 1962

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: Text – pg 96

 

Entrance size: Undetermined

Entrance aspect: Undetermined

Vegetation in general locale: Land reclamation (2006).

Vegetation at entrance: Land reclamation (2006).

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Undetermined

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: Undetermined

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Undetermined

Siltation: Undetermined

Dark zone: Undetermined

Climate: Undetermined

Bats: Undetermined

Bat guano: Undetermined

Other species: Undetermined

Ownership: ALPART (2006)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: N/A

Blenheim Cave-1
June 7, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Taylor, Yovandich.
Notes: RS Stewart

The land at the location given in JU for Blenheim Cave-1 has been mined for bauxite sometime during the years preceding June 7, 2006. We suspect that it occurred less than two years before, due to the reclaimed land having a very sparse cover of vegetation. In a large area surrounding the location, mining has been thorough, with only rocky hills left untouched. We did not search the nearby hills for the cave, because as will be seen in the quote from JU lower on the page, the cave was in a depression (sinkhole), and not in a rock outcrop.

An old farm dwelling was found in the general area (a small house) sitting on about .25 ha of land of undisturbed land, surrounded by mined and reclaimed land. Here, we found a gentleman in his 40’s who informed us that his father had originally owned the farm (now deceased), and that he had lived there his entire life. In response to our questions, the gentleman informed us that he knew of no caves still existing in the surrounding area, but that several had been filled in during bauxite mining.

If, as we suspect to be the case, Blenheim Cave-1 has been filled in, we are left only with the historical information as recorded in JU. In addition to what will be found in the table above, we have the following brief text entry:

Due south of Welkins Cave and 110m west of the road. A large sinkhole.”



Blenheim Cave-2
Jun 7, 2006 - 12:00-14:00 EST
[Suspected to no longer exist. Primary data source JU.]

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: N/A

 

JAD69: 195600 E, 143900 N

JAD2001: N/A

Altitude: 760m JAD69

Accuracy: +/- >100m horizontal; +/- >25m vertical

Type: Cave to a shaft

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Undetermined

Length: 55m

Explorers: GSD - 1962

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: Text – pg 96

 

Entrance size: Undetermined

Entrance aspect: Undetermined

Vegetation in general locale: Land reclamation (2006).

Vegetation at entrance: Land reclamation (2006).

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Undetermined

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: Undetermined

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Undetermined

Siltation: Undetermined

Dark zone: Undetermined

Climate: Undetermined

Bats: Undetermined

Bat guano: Undetermined

Other species: Undetermined

Ownership: ALPART (2006)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: N/A

Blenheim Cave-2
June 7, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Taylor, Yovandich.
Notes: RS Stewart

Blenheim Cave-2 was searched for at the same time as Cave-1, and the results were similar. It appears that the cave has been filled in during bauxite mining activities. As with Cave-1, it may have had an entrance in a low-lying area. This is not explicitly stated in JU, but the description “cave to a shaft” implies an input of water, which would not occur if the cave were on a rocky hillside. (It should be noted that in the larger district, bauxite mining was generally being carried out in topographically lower areas, we presume because these hold deeper deposits of ore.) However, of the three Blenheim caves, this is one that we are less certain has been lost. Even though the listed coordinates place it over 200m from the nearest hill, until that hill has been closely investigated, there remains the chance that it may still exist (with a poor position given in JU), and be merely forgotten about by those few residents who lived in the area during the time of our visit.

In the case of Cave-2, a little more information is recorded in JU - specifically, that a passage 45m long ended in an unexplored shaft. The text entry for the cave follows:

Due south of Blenheim-1. A cave with loose boulders on the floor extends for 45m to where the roof lowers to 1m and the passage ends in an unexplored shaft.”



Blenheim Cave-3
Jun 7, 2006 - 12:00-14:00 EST
[Believed to no longer exist. Primary data source JU.]

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: N/A

 

JAD69: 195400 E, 143900 N

JAD2001: N/A

Altitude: 800m JAD69

Accuracy: +/- >100m horizontal; +/- >25m vertical

Type: Simple shaft

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Undetermined

Length: Undetermined

Explorers: GSD - 1962

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: Text – pg 96

 

Entrance size: Undetermined

Entrance aspect: Undetermined

Vegetation in general locale: Land reclamation (2006).

Vegetation at entrance: Land reclamation (2006).

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Undetermined

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: Undetermined

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Undetermined

Siltation: Undetermined

Dark zone: Undetermined

Climate: Undetermined

Bats: Undetermined

Bat guano: Undetermined

Other species: Undetermined

Ownership: ALPART (2006)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: N/A

Blenheim Cave-3
June 7, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Taylor, Yovandich.
Notes: RS Stewart

Blenheim Cave-3 was searched for at the same time as Cave-1 and Cave-2. As with Cave-1, the entrance shaft was in a low-lying area, and it appears to have been filled in during bauxite mining activities. The site does not seem to have been explored by the GSD, just noted (the GSD did not usually explore caves that required vertical techniques, having neither the gear nor the expertise).

From JU, we have:

About 400m west of the Blenheim to Newport road. A deep (unexplored?) hole in a funnel-shaped valley. Other sinkholes were reported in the area by GSD.”

In some parts of these mountains [Carpenter’s Mountains], (I do not vouch for the truth of the story) is said to be a perpendicular chasm, the diameter of whose mouth is only a few feet, and the depth of it is unfathomable. The following singular phenomenon is reported of it: that, alternatively in the space of twenty four hours, it emits and inhales a strong body of air or vapour; and that if, at the time of the indraught, a small bird, or other light body, should be thrown within the vortex, it would be irresistibly drawn in, and never more make its appearance above ground. E. Long (1774)”



Wales Cave 1
Jun 8, 2006 - 16:00-18:00 EST
[Believed to no longer exist. Primary data source JU.]

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: N/A

 

JAD69: 197800 E, 146300 N

JAD2001: N/A

Altitude: 640m JAD69

Accuracy: +/- >100m horizontal; +/- >25m vertical

Type: Cave to a shaft

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Undetermined

Length: Undetermined

Explorers: GSD - 1954

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: Text – pg 367

 

Entrance size: Undetermined

Entrance aspect: Undetermined

Vegetation in general locale: Land reclamation (2006).

Vegetation at entrance: Land reclamation (2006).

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Undetermined

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: Undetermined

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Undetermined

Siltation: Undetermined

Dark zone: Undetermined

Climate: Undetermined

Bats: Undetermined

Bat guano: Undetermined

Other species: Undetermined

Ownership: ALPART (2006)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: N/A

Wales Cave 1
June 8, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Taylor, Yovandich.
Notes: RS Stewart

We began our search for Wales Cave in the late afternoon of June 8, after assessing two sites further to the south in Manchester. Upon arriving at the location listed for it in JU, we found a large, shallow, bowl-shaped valley that had been almost entirely mined and reclaimed (several small areas of scrubby bush remained). We then hiked to the GPS position that corresponded to the JU listing, and then combed the surrounding area, including the pockets of scrub. We found nothing.

At the end of this search, we happened to all meet at a new reclamation road that ran above the valley on the southeast. We sat on the curb, feeling dejected, and discussed the fact that the cave we had great hopes for, deep and unexplored, had apparently gone the way of the Blenheim caves. While doing this, we watched two bulldozer operators who were engaged in reclamation-work park their machines, and begin to walk up the road toward us. Once they had reached us, we took the opportunity to ask them some general questions about caves and sinkholes in the district, and specifically the one that we wanted to find. It was made clear to us that when possible, they filled them in, and this is probably what had happened to the one that was listed as being in the valley beside us. However, they told us of another site, fairly close, that was too large to be filled in, and gave us good directions to find it. This was the cave we would later call Wales Cave 2, which will be addressed further on in this report. As for Wales Cave proper, we gave up on it for the day.

On October 23, we visited the current owner of Wales House, Mrs Wright, to see if we might learn of any information on Wales Cave. She did indeed know of a cave north of the estate house, although she had not visited it herself. Her son, however, was familiar with it and would be back that evening, whereupon she would find out what she could. The next morning, we returned to Wales House only to learn that her son did know of Wales Cave, but it had been filled in some months before by ALPART.

We are of the belief at this time that Wales Cave no longer exists. All that is left is the information given in JU, which follows:

A cave in a deep sinkhole, reported by McGrath to be north of Wales House and south of the road. A descent of a 7m slope to 10m of passage, 3m wide, ending in a deep unexplored shaft.”



Wales Cave 2
Jun 8, 2006 - 16:00-18:00 EST
Jun 9, 2006 - 10:00-13:00 EST
Jun 10, 2006 - 11:00-16:00 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 57 57.8 N, 77 29 45.1 W

 

JAD69: 197365 E, 146024 N

JAD2001: 697476 E, 646313 N

Altitude: 690m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- >20m horizontal; +/- >25m vertical

Type: Cave to a shaft

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: 68 m

Length: >50m

Explorers: JCO – Jun 10, 2006

Survey: JCO – Feb 18, 2007

JU Ref: N/A

 

Entrance size: 3m x 3m

Entrance aspect: 270 True

Vegetation in general locale: Land reclamation (2006).

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub (2006).

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Stals

Palaeo resources: None observed

Archaeo resources: None

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional

Siltation: Moderate

Dark zone: >90%

Climate: Warm, Semi-humid

Bats: >500

Bat guano: Much

Guano mining: None

Guano condition: Fresh, fluffy

Amblypygids: None seen

Periplaneta americana: Some

Other species: U. cavernicola, Araneae spp, E. cundalli

Visitation: None

Speleothem damage: None

Graffiti: Much

Garbage: Much (in entrance depression)

Ownership: ALPART (?) (2006)

Protection: None

Vulnerability: High. Acts as drain during heavy rains. Mixed species bat colony. Risk of continuing degradation from input of land reclamation material (marl, soil).

Wales Cave 2
June 8-10, 2006
Team: Stewart, Conolley, Slack, Pauel, Lee, Taylor, Yovandich.
Notes: RS Stewart

Wales Cave 2 was found late in the day on June 8 with the help of two heavy equipment operators who were engaged in land reclamation in the area. Because of time constraints, we were not able to enter the cave, just scramble down the side of the deep sinkhole that contains the entrance and observe that there was indeed a site to be explored.

We returned to the entrance the next morning, June 9, with the team now consisting of Stewart, Taylor, Lee, and Yovandich. Of this group, only one, Stewart, had any real experience in vertical rope techniques. This prevented a complete exploration of the cave, as it was found that there were a series of vertical steps and it was inadvisable for Stewart to proceed alone past the bottom of the first step, which would have put him out of contact with the others. However, it was seen that the cave continued downward, and that a return visit was necessary. This was arranged for the next day, with JCO members Conolley and Pauel agreeing to come to Manchester from Kingston to assist in the exploration.

On the morning of June 10, a team that consisted of Stewart, Conolley, Pauel, Lee, Taylor, and Yovandich returned to the site with the intention of completing the exploration. We were armed with 260 metres of rope, and the required vertical gear. The plan was to send three people, Stewart, Conolley, and Pauel to the bottom, while Taylor and Yovandich, after having helped to haul in gear, stayed at the top of the first of the vertical steps. Dr Lee would remain in the cockpit, outside of the entrance, to ensure that land reclamation did not resume on the surface near the cave and trap us inside under a pile of boulders and dirt. By 20:00 EST, about 10 hours after we entered the cave, the exploration was complete, we had all made it back to the surface, and Wales Cave 2 was now a known quantity.

I will begin the detailed account of the exploration with a description of the cave, as seen during the course of June 10:

Surrounding the position given in the table above, there is a wide (>400m), shallow, bowl-shaped valley that contains a deep sinkhole in the centre. The valley itself has been mined, and reclaimed, and as of June 2006 was a smooth, bulldozed, surface, covered in a layer of marl in places, bare dirt in others, and no topsoil. The sinkhole in the centre has scrub and trees growing at the very edge, as well as in the hole, and is about 50m across, and 25m deep. The sides are almost vertical on the north, and change to a slope of about 30 degrees on the south. The southern side offers the best route down, with this being a scramble past large boulders in the lower section, until a south-facing entrance, a few metres wide by high, is reached at the very bottom. For the first two thirds of this scramble, there is a moderate amount of garbage that has been tossed in by local residents.

In the entrance area, water is pooling and has deposited deep red mud, this washed in from the mining that has taken place above. It appears that this section was originally a pile of large breakdown boulders that has had the voids between choked with mud. Past this, a scrambly descent between boulders leads to a sloping chamber about 12m wide. At the top of the chamber, against the wall, there is a boulder about 2m across that adjoins both floor and ceiling, with a gap at the back that allows it to be used as a very solid anchor. About 10m down-slope, the floor of the chamber drops vertically about 3m. It can be free-climbed in one place, although it is much safer to do it on-rope. Beyond this short pitch, the chamber continues to slope downward for another 15-20m at about 30 degrees, with a 2m vertical step midway. At the bottom of the slope, an overhanging vertical drop of about 10m is reached that leads to the continuation of the chamber. The ceiling actually rises at this point, causing the height of the chamber to be about 18m high. A bat roost is located here, with numbers in the hundreds. The area at the base of this 10m pitch was my far point on June 9 (I had roamed around and found a continuation via a vertical descent at the far side, and had then pulled the plug).

The floor now becomes fairly level, although with a slight depression in the centre. On the right side as one faces the drop, on June 10, large amounts of marl covered the floor and partially filled voids between boulders that led to lower parts of the cave. It was not seen in the chamber above, so the entry route was apparently separate from the way we had come in, and possibly hidden at the entrance area under the mud blockage.

Directly across from the base of the 10m pitch, another vertical is found that descends on the right side. It is made up of two steps: The first is about 6m onto a steeply sloping floor leading left, and the second slightly deeper, with this taking one under the area at the top of the first step. More marl covers the floor here. At the bottom, on the right side, a passage leads around a corner for about 12m, and then after becoming lower, ends in a pool of red water in a chamber about 10m long, 4m wide, and 6m high. No way on beyond this point was found. It should be noted that the access into the pool chamber is almost entirely blocked by deep deposits of marl, and was only about 75cm high during our visit.

As for total depth: A 100m 13mm rope was used for the entire descent, tied to the bolder at the top mentioned earlier, and there was less than 10m left at the bottom. Taking into consideration the deviations en route, we estimate the depth to be about 60m from the boulder. The distance above the boulder to the entrance was about 10m, with this giving a total of about 70m (a subsequent survey showed it to be 68m).

I will now address the conditions at Wales Cave 2 as of June 10, 2006:

Land reclamation activities have caused a great amount of marl to enter this cave, to the point where it is now blocked in places. The original source of the marl is obvious – erosion gullies begin at the south side of the cockpit in a large bank of marl pushed right to the edge by bulldozers, and the material can be seen to extend down these to the cave entrance. From here, the input route is not obvious, and we suspect it us now choked and under the pooled mud in the entrance area. The choke might not be permanent – it is easy to imagine heavy rains loosening this and allowing even more marl and mud to enter the cave. The marl has penetrated to the very bottom of the cave, 70 metres down, and has almost cut off access to the final sump. We must note that the current sump might not have been the original end of the cave – considering the amount of marl just upstream of the sump, it is possible that a downstream continuation has been choked by a mixture of marl and mud and has cut off both access and water flow.

Biologically, the cave contains a mixed species bat roost with numbers estimated to be over 500. Cave crickets are present, and at least one species of troglobitic spider. The frog E.cundalli is resident in the entrance area. The floor of the roosting chamber, away from the section that is covered with marl, has a substantial accumulation of fluffy bat guano, and it is expected this will contain cave-associated microinvertebrates.

In conclusion, it can be stated that Wales Cave 2 is highly degraded in a hydrological sense, but less so biologically. The input route of the marl has caused accumulations to be to the side of the roosting chamber, with ongoing flow directly below this. The main part of the chamber, and the access above, are relatively undisturbed. There does not appear to be any material currently above this of a large enough size to block access entirely. This, of course, could change if the sinkhole were used in the future as a dumping ground for large rocks, or large quantities of garbage. The hydrological degradation, however, is not complete. There continues to be a large amount of marl available on the south side of the cockpit that is not held in place by topsoil and vegetation. We see no reason why the input will not continue in the future. In times of heavy rain, the marl will continue to travel down its previous route, and if the current blockage near the entrance is loosened (highly likely), even more material will eventually make its way to the very bottom of the cave. The accumulation at the low point only has to rise about 80cm to block entry to the terminal sump. Unless measures are taken to prevent further washing in of marl from the top of the cockpit, drainage through this cave could be entirely stopped. During hurricane conditions, the height to which flooding could occur is a complete unknown. We hope that it would not be so great that it would flood the cave entirely, thereby eliminating the bat roost, to then rise into the surrounding valley itself. The road layout around the valley suggests that housing will be built in the future on the sides of it; there is the potential for the residents to find themselves in very trying circumstances.

The JCO returned to Wales Cave 2 on Feb 18 2007 to carry out a mapping survey. The map that resulted will be found below. During the visit, it was found that the terminal sump was dry, but the floor had risen about 1m from the surface that Jan had waded on in Oct. Indications of drainage were seen low on the NW side, through what appears to be a mud-choked, low passage (the top 10 cm’s was open, extending about a half metre inwards).

It should be noted that the identification of the site was uncertain at first. The site matches the JU account of the GSD visit to some extent: “A cave in a deep sinkhole, reported by McGrath to be north of Wales House and south of the road. A descent of a 7m slope to 10m of passage, 3m wide, ending in a deep unexplored shaft, but not exactly. First, the vertical extent of the cave cannot be described as a shaft in any part of it. It appears to be rather a series of chambers formed over ancient breakdown bridges in a steeply descending passage. Secondly, the position is almost 700m away from the GSD position. Our experience with McGrath's positions is that they are generally much closer to reality than this. Thirdly, the current owner of Wales House informed us in Oct 2006, that Wales Cave had been filled in during bauxite mining operations and no longer exists (this information was from her adult son). However, there is no other cave recorded in the general area where we found the site. We suspect that the cave we found was not visited by the GSD in the 1960's, and is a “new” cave, but on this we cannot be absolutely sure. Nevertheless, we will give it a distinguishing name, Wales Cave 2, with the uncertainty factor noted.


Map of Wales Cave 2 - Guy Van Rentergem



Blenheim Triangle Cave 2 (?)
Jun 9, 2006 - 16:00-17:00 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 56 47.4 N, 77 29 33.8 W

 

JAD69: 197692 E, 143859 N

JAD2001: 697803 E, 644148 N

Altitude: 730m WGS84 (top of entrance pit)

Accuracy: +/- >15m horizontal; +/- >20m vertical

Type: Undetermined (entrance joint-developed)

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Undetermined

Length: Undetermined

Explorers: N/A

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: Pg 96

 

Entrance size: 1.5m wide x 3m high

Entrance aspect: 180 True

Vegetation in general locale: Residential, farm

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone (?)

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: Undetermined

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional

Siltation: Undetermined

Dark zone: Undetermined

Climate: Undetermined

Bats: Undetermined

Bat guano: Undetermined

Other species: Undetermined

Ownership: Private (?)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: High. Acts as drain in heavy rains. Currently partially blocked by trash, with input continuing.

Blenheim Triangle Cave 2 (?)
June 9, 2006
Team: Stewart, Lee, Taylor, Yovandich.
Notes: RS Stewart

Blenheim Triangle Cave 2 is one of two caves located quite close to the road, to the southeast of Newport. We are uncertain whether it is Blenheim Triangle 1, 2, or 3, but our best guess, using the information in JU, is that it is Cave 2. A return visit to the area is required to sort this out.

We were not able to enter the cave due large quantities of trash that has been dumped into the entrance area. This included various sharp pieces of metal, and dirty diapers, and the risk of cuts and infections seemed too great for us to attempt to pass over it. However, we were able to get fairly close to the entrance, and can at least describe the morphology.

On the south side of a lane that runs parallel to the nearby road, a sinkhole of about 20m width leads to a rifted entrance low on a cliff. Best access is from a second lane that runs from the main road south past the first lane. Immediately within, a vertical drop is seen of unknown depth (probably less than 10m). The entrance appears to take water seasonally, as evidenced by erosion gullies leading to it (this input may be limited to severe weather events). As with other caves in the district, it appears to be joint-developed, i.e. high and narrow.

The large amount of garbage at the entrance, and the periodic input of water, suggests severe pollution downstream, wherever this may be (to the south, but we cannot speculate on the location of the associated rising). In addition, our experience with similar sites suggests that garbage has washed into the cave, with much of it plastic (buckets, bags, diapers, etc). In short, the cave is probably highly degraded. It is not possible to say this with absolute certainty, but it is certainly in such a bad state that we cannot even enter it to be sure.



Snowdon Sinkhole (?)
Oct 22, 2006 - 15:00-15:30 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 57 14.1 N, 77 29 52.3 W

 

JAD69: 197150 E, 144681 N

JAD2001: 697260 E, 644970

Altitude: 730m WGS84 (top of entrance pit)

Accuracy: +/- >15m horizontal; +/- >20m vertical

Type: Undetermined

Accessibility: Undetermined

Depth: Undetermined

Length: Undetermined

Explorers: JCC 1971 (?)

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: Pg: 335

 

Entrance size: Undetermined

Entrance aspect: Undetermined

Vegetation in general locale: Land reclamation (2006)

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone (?)

Bedding: Undetermined

Jointing: Undetermined

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: Undetermined

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Undetermined

Siltation: Undetermined

Dark zone: Undetermined

Climate: Undetermined

Bats: Undetermined

Bat guano: Undetermined

Other species: Undetermined

Ownership: Private (?)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: High. Acts as drain in heavy rains. Currently blocked by trash, with input continuing.

Snowdon Sinkhole (?)
Oct 22, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Snauffer.
Notes: RS Stewart

On the morning of Oct 22, with the help of our local contact, Garvey, while investigating locally known speleological sites, we visited a sinkhole that was being used as a trash dump to such a degree that we were unable to enter it. As with Blenheim Triangle 2, the garbage included sharp pieces of rusty metal, dirty diapers, etc. Essentially, it would have been impossible to find a route through this without the aid of body-armour and facemasks.

A GPS position was taken at the site, and it was later found to closely match the listed position for Snowdon Sinkhole (Snowdon 100m distant, bearing 35 deg true, with the listing accuracy in JU at 100m). JU describes the site as follows: “Located in second depression west of parochial road at Snowdon district. A vertical overhanging shaft plumbed at 40m but not descended by JCC party in 1971.” Mining has taken place in the immediate vicinity, so it is no longer possible to know if it is in the second depression or not due to disturbance of the originally topography.

The current condition of the site follows: A depression, somewhat funnel-shaped, holds garbage at least 1m deep. Below this, we are told (by Garvey), there is an opening to a cave or sinkhole, which he remembers from the past. The depression morphology suggests that there is indeed an outlet located at the bottom for the water it takes during heavy rains. If this is true, it is highly polluted, and partially blocked by rafted plastic trash.



Isles Sinkholes (?)
Site #352
Oct 22, 2006 - 16:00-16:30 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 57 12.8 N, 77 29 58.1 W

 

JAD69: 196979 E, 144642 N

JAD2001: 697090 E, 644931 N

Altitude: 750m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- >10m horizontal; +/- >15m vertical

Type: Fissure cave

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Apx 10m

Length: Apx 12m

Explorers: JCO - 2006

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: Pg: 209

 

Entrance size: 1 x 2m

Entrance aspect: Zenith

Vegetation in general locale: Land reclamation (2006).

Vegetation at entrance: Land reclamation (2006).

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Stals

Palaeo resources: None observed

Archaeo resources: None

Hydrology: Dry

Siltation: N/A

Dark zone: 0%

Climate: Hot, Dry

Bats: None observed

Bat guano: Undetermined

Other species: None

Ownership: ALPART (?)

Protection: None

Vulnerability: Low. This is a small, dry cave with no dark zone.



Isles Sinkholes (?)
Site #353
Oct 22, 2006 - 16:30-17:00 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 57 12.6 N, 77 30 01.0 W

 

JAD69: 196893 E, 144636 N

JAD2001: 697004 E, 644925 W

Altitude: 750m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- >10m horizontal; +/- >15m vertical

Vulnerability: N/A

Isles Sinkholes (?)
Oct 22, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Snauffer.
Notes: RS Stewart

While searching for locally known speleological sites with Garvey (an old-time resident of the district), on Oct 22, one partially choked site was located, as well as a second in a depression that Garvey tells us once existed, but has been recently filled, which may match the sites listed in JU as the Isles Sinkholes (apx 250m from the listed cords). JU simply tells us: “Several shafts reported by McGrath [GSD] as being; …south of the road and north of Snowden, a quarter of a mile from the road. A footpath leads from the main road to Wales district.”

We will refer to the sites as Site #352 and Site #353, these being the GPS waypoints that were obtained:


Site #352: A small upward facing opening, about 1 x 2m wide, has a boulder placed on top of it by ALPART during land reclamation (the area around the site has been mined in the recent past). On either side of this, there is enough room to squeeze past to reach a short vertical pitch (apx. 4m) which leads down to a partially choked cave about 4m wide by 12m long, with a total depth of about 10m. The site may be regarded as an old sinkhole, although it is not a simple shaft, but rather developed in a joint. Some of the material blocking the bottom of the cave has evidently been pushed in during land reclamation. On top of this, there is the usual garbage, although not as severe as at some other sites. However, houses will soon be built on the surrounding reclaimed land, and the rate of dumping will probably accelerate.


Site #353: One hundred metres west of Site: #252 is a small depression that has vegetative cover consisting of scrub and small trees, with this surrounded by reclaimed bauxite land. It has been used as a convenient place for the dumping of boulders that interfered with the landscaping of the reclaimed land. It can be seen that some of the boulders have been in place for some time, as part of the normal development of the depression, but others are new arrivals, pushed in from the sides. Below this, Garvey tells us, there was once a deep sinkhole, which was accessible until the mining and reclamation took place. It is impossible for us to know the accuracy of the report, without removing many tonnes of boulders, but the location is close to that stated for the Isles Sinkholes (within the limits of accuracy in JU), noted by McGrath, and Garvey seemed quite certain.



Welkin Cave 1
Oct 23, 2006 - 10:00-11:00 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 57 26.9 N, 77 30 40.5 W

 

JAD69: 195732 E, 145079 N

JAD2001: 695843 E, 645368 N

Altitude: 720m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- >15m horizontal; +/- >20m vertical

Type: Cave to a shaft

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Apx 15m

Length: Apx 30m

Explorers: Liverpool - 1977

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: Pg: 373

 

Entrance size: .5m x .5m (between boulders)

Entrance aspect: 350 True

Vegetation in general locale: Land reclamation (2006)

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Stals (very few)

Palaeo resources: None observed

Archaeo resources: None

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional

Siltation: Low

Dark zone: Apx 30%

Climate: Warm, Dry

Bats: <500 (Artibeus)

Bat guano: No accumulation

Other species: E. cundalli

Ownership: ALPART (?)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: Medium. Minor bat-roost.

Welkin Cave 1
Oct 23, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Snauffer.
Notes: RS Stewart

This site was shown to us by Garvey, our main local contact, on Oct 23. A bouldered depression, with scrub growing on the sides, has at the bottom a small cave.

We needed to move several large rocks in order to squeeze down into the cave, with this followed by a careful scramble down more boulders until a last pitch of about 3m, undescended, but appearing to choke, was noted. It appears to occasionally take water, at least in heavy rains, as evidenced by old mud at the lowest point.

The boulders in the depression appear to be original, with no evidence of appreciable in-filling during land reclamation activities, although the land in the vicinity has been mined.

The GPS position obtained, and the appearance of the site, are a good match for Welkin Cave 1, with the 1977 visit by Liverpool U. description, in JU, as follows: “A boulder-filled depression with a small hole between boulders becomes choked”.



Welkin Cave 2
Oct 23, 2006 - 11:00-11:30 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 57 19.9 N, 77 30 42.6 W

 

JAD69: 195670 E, 144864 N

JAD2001: 695781 E, 645153 N

Altitude: 715m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- >10m horizontal; +/- >15m vertical

Type: Fissure

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Apx 20m

Length: >20m

Explorers: Liverpool - 1977

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: Pg: 375

 

Entrance size: 3m x 12m

Entrance aspect: Zenith

Vegetation in general locale: Land reclamation (2006)

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: None observed

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional

Siltation: Low

Dark zone: 0%

Climate: Outside ambient

Bats: None

Bat guano: N/A

Other species: None

Ownership: ALPART (?)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: Low. No dark zone, bats, or cave-adapted species. Acts as drain occasionally.

Welkin Cave 2
Oct 23, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Snauffer.
Notes: RS Stewart

This is a minor site found at the same time as Welkin Cave 1, which was shown to us by Garvey. It is not a cave, as such, but rather a long, wide, eroded joint, which has acted as an outlet for water in the past, and perhaps still does occasionally at present. It was obvious when viewed from the top that there would be no dark-zone, or cave biology, so we chose not to spend the time making the descent of some 15m.

The location and appearance are a good match for Welkin Cave 2, with JU giving the explorers as Liverpool U. in 1977, and: “A 3m x 12m opening to a 20m drop, ends in a boulder-choked floor. This site recorded by McGrath in 1962 as Welkin Sinkhole”.



Site #356
Oct 23, 2006 - 12:00-12:30 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 57 20.5 N, 77 29 16.3 W

 

JAD69: 198209 E, 144875 N

JAD2001: 698320 E, 645164 W

Altitude: 690m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- >10m horizontal; +/- >15m vertical

Type: Sinkhole

Accessibility: No access

Depth: Undetermined

Length: Undetermined

Explorers: JCO - 2006

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: N/A

 

Entrance size: Undetermined

Entrance aspect: Undetermined

Vegetation in general locale: Reclamation, residential

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Undetermined

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: Undetermined

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional

Siltation: Undetermined

Dark zone: Undetermined

Climate: Undetermined

Bats: None

Bat guano: None

Other species: None

Ownership: Private (?)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: High. Acts as drain in heavy rains.

Site #356
Oct 23, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Snauffer.
Notes: RS Stewart

This is a site found while investigating the caves and sinkholes of the area with our local contact, Garvey. It is a possible choked sinkhole on the roadside 2km east of Newport.

A deep depression beside the road has morphology indicating that it has served as a drain for surface water during rainy times (upstream slope longer and less steep than the sides indicating greater erosion where water entered the depression, steeply angled sides because of under-cutting, and vertical at the lowest, downstream side).

Because of the proximity to the road, it has been used greatly as a trash dump and is filled to a depth of at least several metres with garbage, this about 20m wide. There is a sign stating “No Dumping” right at the spot where people toss their trash in, but it seems to have been of little help.



Site #357
Oct 23, 2006 - 13:00-13:30 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 57 54.2 N, 77 29 55.4 W

 

JAD69: 197062 E, 145915 N

JAD2001: 697172, 646203

Altitude: 710m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- 20m horizontal; +/- >15m vertical

Type: Undetermined

Accessibility: N/A

Depth: N/A

Length: N/A

Explorers: JCO - 2006

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: N/A

 

Entrance size: N/A

Entrance aspect: N/A

Vegetation in general locale: Land reclamation (2006)

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Undetermined

Speleothems: N/A

Palaeo resources: N/A

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Sink: Active – occasional. Blocked (?)

Siltation: Undetermined

Dark zone: N/A

Climate: N/A

Bats: None

Bat guano: N/A

Other species: None

Ownership: Private (?)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: N/A

Site #357
Oct 23, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Snauffer.
Notes: RS Stewart

A cave or sinkhole is reported to have once existed in the vicinity of the coordinates given in the table, with this having been filled in by ALPART some months before our arrival at the site. At present (Oct 23/07), there is a depression surrounded by land mined for bauxite, with land reclamation having already taken place. The condition of the site may possibly be seen as a severe example of what happened at Wales Cave 2, with the volume of the depression smaller and thereby more easily choked.

The information given to us regarding the blocking of the cave or sinkhole (we don’t know the nature of it) was from an old-time resident. A video of the interview was recorded.



Site #358
Oct 24, 2006 - 13:00-14:00 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 56 32.9 N, 77 30 24.4 W

 

JAD69: 196201 E, 143417 N

JAD2001: 696312 E, 643706 N

Altitude: 775m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- >15m horizontal; +/- >15m vertical

Type: Fissure cave

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: >10m

Length: Undetermined

Explorers: JCO – 2006 (undescended)

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: N/A

 

Entrance size: .8m x 1m

Entrance aspect: Zenith

Vegetation in general locale: Pasture, scrub

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: Undetermined

Archaeo resources: None

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional (?)

Siltation: Undetermined

Dark zone: Undetermined

Climate: Undetermined

Bats: Undetermined

Bat guano: Undetermined

Other species: Undetermined

Ownership: ALPART (?)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: Medium. Possibly acts as sink in rainy times. Mining had begun in the immediate vicinity as of Feb, 2007.

Site #358
Oct 24, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Sullivan.
Notes: RS Stewart

This is a minor site located in fractured rock, low on the side of a hill, shown to us by a local resident. We did not enter it, but the entrance is a small opening into a vertical shaft that seems to be of no great depth. When we again passed by the area in February of 2007, mining had begun in the immediate vicinity.

Access is (was) across pastureland to the east of the Newport to Cross Keys road.



Standpipe Cave
Oct 24, 2006 - 15:00-16:00 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 57 45.8 N, 77 30 14.1 W

 

JAD69: 196511 E, 145658 N

JAD2001: 696622 E, 645947 N

Altitude: 720m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- >15m horizontal; +/- >20m vertical

Type: Shaft to a passage

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Apx 10m

Length: Apx 10m

Explorers: JCO - 2006

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: N/A

 

Entrance size: 1.5m high x 1m wide

Entrance aspect: 35 True

Vegetation in general locale: Farm, residential

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Stals

Palaeo resources: None observed

Archaeo resources: None

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional

Siltation: Low

Dark zone: 0%

Climate: Warm, Semi-humid

Bats: None observed

Bat guano: N/A

Other species: E. cundalli

Ownership: Private (?)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: Medium. Acts as drain during heavy rains.

Standpipe Cave
Oct 24, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Sullivan.
Notes: RS Stewart

Located while investigating the caves and sinkholes of the Newport district. This is a small, joint-developed cave. A short vertical entrance pitch (<10m), leads to a small, rifted passage that rock-chokes after no great distance. It is a seasonal/occasional sink, probably only active in very heavy rains.

Possibly same site as New Castle Cave, listed in JU (see also Newport Square Cave).

Descended by Elizabeth Slack and Anna Sullivan.



Newport Square Cave
Oct 25, 2006 - 9:30-10:30 EST

District: Newport

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 57 39.8 N, 77 30 23.2 W

 

JAD69: 196242 E, 145474 N

JAD2001: 696353 E, 645763 N

Altitude: 775m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- >20m horizontal; +/- >20m vertical

Type: Shaft to a passage

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Apx 8m

Length: Apx 8m

Explorers: JCO - 2006

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: Pg: 268 (?) New Castle Cave

 

Entrance size: Apx 2m x 2m

Entrance aspect: 245

Vegetation in general locale: Farm, residential

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Stals, old flowstone

Palaeo resourc: Spiral shells, cross-section in limestone

Archaeo resources: None

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional

Siltation: Moderate

Dark zone: Apx 50%

Climate: Cool, Semi-humid

Bats: None

Bat guano: N/A

Other species: E. cundalli

Ownership: Private (?)

Protection: None

Vulnerability: Medium. Takes water in heavy rains.

Newport Square Cave
Oct 25, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Snauffer, Sullivan.
Notes: RS Stewart

This is a minor site that is 250m, 60 deg true from the Newport square. May be same site as New Castle Cave, listed in JU, but distance from square is said to be 500m. Standpipe Cave another possibility as New Castle Cave.

A pitch of about 8m at the entrance leads to a small passage that chokes after about 4m. Some garbage. No bats seen. The frog E. cundalli is present.

Descended by Elizabeth Slack.


Newport Square Cave
Oct 25, 2006
Notes: EA Slack

After a short descent, there is a passage that continues on. I made it part way in, then had to back out to take my harness off. Now narrower by a couple centimetres, I managed to get a couple more metres into the passage. I successfully squeezed my way around the first hairpin curve, then realised that the passage makes another hairpin turn. I didn’t continue any further, because if I got stuck there was no one to pull me out. It was incredibly frustrating to see a passage continue but be unable to follow it. The passage was about two and a half metres high, and had a shelf eroded about a metre up from the floor, as though water had flown through. That also made my inability to pass frustrating, since water passages can continue for quite a way. I do take some consolation in the fact that there are not many cavers skinnier than me, so if I can’t squeeze through, odds are no else can either.



Site #362
Oct 25, 2006 - 11:30-12:00 EST

District: Old England

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 59 43.3 N, 77 28 20.3 W

 

JAD69: 199868 E, 149261 N

JAD2001: 699979 E, 649550 N

Altitude: 630m JAD69

Accuracy: +/- >15m horizontal; +/- >20m vertical

Type: Blocked fissure cave

Accessibility: Scramble

Depth: Apx 10m

Length: Apx 15m

Explorers: JCO - 2006

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: N/A

 

Entrance size: 5m x 12m

Entrance aspect: Zenith

Vegetation in general locale: Farming

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Strong

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: None observed

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional

Siltation: High

Dark zone: 0%

Climate: N/A

Bats: None

Bat guano: N/A

Other species: None

Ownership: Private (?)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: N/A. Site is currently blocked.

Site #362
Oct 25, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Snauffer, Sullivan.
Notes: RS Stewart

One end of a joint developed cave, now blocked by either bauxite mining or exploratory work. The other end, located on property that was not sold to ALPART, remains open and is discussed under Site #363.

Residents of the area (who brought it to our attention) related that until about 10 years ago, when the mining activity took place (we have no independent information for the time of this), they would travel into the cave until a deep pit was reached, and then toss rocks that sounded as if they were hitting water (this apparently during rainy times). The residents joined us when we scrambled down the entrance slope, on much rock and dirt, and they pointed out how the cave is now blocked before the pit is reached. Indeed, there is essentially no cave left, as the blockage is thorough at the bottom of what was once the entrance area.

There is a possibility that run-off in heavy rains may slowly penetrate the blockage.

The joint that the cave is developed in is exposed on the other side of the hill at Site #363, which we were shown next.



Site #363
Oct 25, 2006 - 12:30-13:30 EST

District: Old England

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 59 40.3 N, 77 28 21.9 W

 

JAD69: 199821 E, 149169 N

JAD2001: 699932 E, 649458 N

Altitude: 620m JAD69

Accuracy: +/- >10m horizontal; +/- >15m vertical

Type: Fissure cave

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: >20m

Length: >20m

Explorers: JCO - 2006

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: N/A

 

Entrance size: Apx 2m wide x 3m high

Entrance aspect: 220 True

Vegetation in general locale: Farming

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Strong

Speleothems: Stals (few)

Palaeo resources: None observed

Archaeo resources: None

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional

Siltation: Low

Dark zone: >50%

Climate: Undetermined

Bats: <500

Bat guano: No accumulation

Other species: E. cundalli

Ownership: Private

Protection: Private

Vulnerability: Medium. Site has minor bat-roost. Exploration incomplete.

Site #363
Oct 25, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Snauffer, Sullivan.
Notes: RS Stewart

This is a fissure cave developed in the same joint as Site #362, on land owned by Winston Miller. Mr Miller stated that an offer to buy his land was made by ALPART, but he chose not to sell. The entrance to the cave remains open.

A narrow passage descends steeply in bouldered steps to about 10-15m deep, and then a vertical of over 12m is reached, which we did not descend. The fissure leads directly toward Site #362, 100 metres away, and we believe they were originally part of the same system.

A minor batroost is present, with total numbers under 500 (exploration of the cave is incomplete – greater numbers may occur further in).

This site is on our To-Do list, to see if we may encounter the bottom-end of the blockage at #362.



Brokenhurst Cave
Oct 25, 2006 - 14:00-14:30 EST

District: Old England

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 58 54.6 N, 77 27 27.0 W

 

JAD69: 201433 E, 147760 N

JAD2001: 701544 E, 648049 N

Altitude: 590m JAD69

Accuracy: +/- >10m horizontal; +/- >15m vertical

Type: Shaft to a passage

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: Apx 10m

Length: Apx 25m

Explorers: JCO - 2006

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: N/A

 

Entrance size: Apx 10m x 20m

Entrance aspect: Zenith

Vegetation in general locale: Farming).

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Stals

Palaeo resources: None observed

Archaeo resources: None

Hydrology: Sink. Active - occasional

Siltation: Moderate

Dark zone: 0%

Climate: Hot, Dry

Bats: None

Bat guano: N/A

Other species: None

Ownership: Private (?)

Protection: None

Vulnerability: Low

Brokenhurst Cave
Oct 25, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Snauffer, Sullivan.
Notes: RS Stewart

A 10m deep shaft, about 10m wide and 20m long, leads to a short, dry passage that ends in a mud-choke. No dark-zone. Being used as a trash dump.



Pussclaw Hole
Oct 25, 2006 - 15:00-16:30 EST

District: Old England

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 58 38.2 N, 77 28 02.0 W

 

JAD69: 200402 E, 147259 N

JAD2001: 700513 E, 647547 N

Altitude: 580m JAD69

Accuracy: +/- >10m horizontal; +/- >15m vertical

Type: Undetermined

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: >10m

Length: >15m

Explorers: JCO - 2006

Survey: N/A

JU Ref: N/A

 

Entrance size: Apx 5m x 5m

Entrance aspect: Zenith

Vegetation in general locale: Farming

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Undetermined

Palaeo resources: Undetermined

Archaeo resources: Undetermined

Hydrology: Possibly former sink in heavy rains.

Siltation: Moderate

Dark zone: Undetermined

Climate: Undetermined

Bats: None

Bat guano: N/A

Other species: None

Ownership: Private (?)

Protection: N/A

Vulnerability: Low. Currently blocked with dirt from bauxite exploration.

Pussclaw Hole
Oct 25, 2006
Team: Stewart, Slack, Pauel, Sullivan.
Notes: RS Stewart

Pussclaw Hole is located in New England, about 4.7km northeast of the Newport square. Bauxite mining is taking place in the district, and at this particular site, a small area of excavation immediately beside it has resulted in the cave being blocked by bauxite soil in the bottom of the entrance pit. Small gaps above the soil indicate a continuing passage, but it would take much digging to get though the blockage.

The site was previously unlisted, as far as we know. It appears to be joint-developed, and has acted as a seasonal drain (possibly only in severe weather).

The nature of the bauxite excavation must be addressed:

It is relatively small, some 100-200 sq metres, and has been crudely bulldozed afterwards. The people who live nearby suggested that it had been exploratory in nature, but observation indicates an equal possibility that it might have been a small, rich pocket that was actually mined. In either case, a speleological site, which possibly supplied habitat for bats and obligate cave species, and served as a drain in times of severe weather, has been severely degraded.

At the time of the visit, the site had no name. To get to it, we had battled through a thick growth of a type of macca (thorny shrub or tree) called “Pussclaw”, this being the only plant that seemed to thrive on the sides of the reclaimed land. Accordingly, we have called it Pussclaw Hole.


________________________________________________________________________________________

Conclusions:

Current conditions:

Of the twenty sites examined, 6 remain in a relatively undisturbed state, 10 have been degraded by bauxite mining activities, and 5 have been degraded by inappropriate solid waste disposal (Site #252 falls into both of the latter categories).

Undisturbed sites:

Site Name

Biology4

Hydrology5

Vulnerability6

Welkin Cave 1

Bats

Active - occasional

Medium

Welkin Cave 2

None

Dry

Low – Minor site

Site #358

Undetermined

Dry

Medium

Standpipe Cave

None

Active - occasional

Medium

Newport Square Cave

None

Active - occasional

Medium

Site #363

Bats

Active - occasional

Medium


Degraded sites - Mining:

Site Name

Biology

Hydrology

Vulnerability

Blenheim Cave-1

N/A

N/A

No longer exists (?)7

Blenheim Cave-2

N/A

N/A

No longer exists (?)

Blenheim Cave-3

N/A

N/A

No longer exists (?)

Wales Cave 1

N/A

N/A

No longer exists (?)

Wales Cave 2

Bats; Obligates

Active - occasional

High

Site #352

Bats

Dry

Low – Minor site

Site #353

N/A

N/A

No longer exists (?)

Site #357

N/A

N/A

No longer exists (?)

Pussclaw Hole

None

Active - occasional

Choked

Site #362

None

Active - occasional

Choked


Degraded sites – Solid Waste:

Site Name

Biology

Hydrology

Vulnerability

Blenheim Triangle Cave 2

Undetermined

Active - occasional

High

Snowdon Sinkhole (?)

Undetermined

Active - occasional

High

Site #352

Bats

Dry

Low – Minor site

Site #356

None

Active - occasional

High

Brokenhurst Cave

None

Active - occasional

Low – Minor site


Degradation processes:

As described above in this document, two processes have been involved in the degradation of the investigated sites: mining activities, and inappropriate solid waste disposal. They are addressed separately below:

Mining:

The changes caused by bauxite mining to the pre-1977 speleological inventory of the Newport district fall into two main categories:

  1. Sites have been destroyed through the severe alteration of the surface morphology in the entrance area during actual mining activities, and the inevitable filling of associated shafts (e.g. the Blenheim Caves).

  1. Sites that were left untouched during the mining process due to lack of suitable ore concentrations have been subsequently filled during reclamation activities in order to achieve a landscaping aesthetic that seems more suitable for a North American suburb than the karst topography of southern Manchester (e.g. Wales Cave 1). As observed in the notes for Wales Cave 1, and Wales Cave 2, bulldozer operators who were working on land reclamation in the vicinity during the time of the visit claim that sinkholes are often filled, unless the size precludes it. Field observations confirm it to be the case. Those sites that were too large to bury have been used as dumping grounds for large boulders that would interfere with the landscaping of the surrounding land (e.g. Wales Cave 2, Site #353).

It should be noted that some sites might have been damaged during exploratory work in areas that were decided to be of too low a value to mine, or that have been reserved for future development (e.g. Pussclaw Hole).

Solid Waste Disposal:

Five of the sites investigated were being used as dumps, and in several cases the amount of garbage that has accumulated was of great proportions (e.g. Blenheim Triangle Cave 2, Snowdon Sinkhole). The apparent cause is that the community lacks garbage pick-up for all of its residents. As a result, for want of anywhere else to put it, they throw their trash into the nearest hole. Unfortunately, the nearest hole is often feeding water (and trash) into the local aquifer during times of heavy rain.

As would be expected, the location of a site is the main determinant in its use as a trash dump; the easier it is to get to, the more it is used as such. The worst case was Site #356, which is roadside. Sites such as the two Welkin caves have been used as dumps to only a limited degree because they are more difficult to get to.


Recommendations:

We first present several reasons why it is important to preserve the caves and sinkholes of south Manchester, and then specific recommendations on how to achieve this goal:

  • The hydrological connectivity of the Newport district is currently being altered in a way that has no historical precedent in the area. The eventual outcome of the blocking of natural drains by way of mining and rafted garbage is unpredictable, especially when severe weather events such as hurricanes are factored in. Prudence suggests that great care be taken in safeguarding the water supply and reducing the risk of flooding for future generations.

  • Bats play an important role in the control of mosquitoes and agricultural pests, as well as in the pollination of many varieties of fruit trees. Fifteen of the twenty-one bat species found in Jamaica are dependent on caves for their roosting space. The loss of caves in a district inevitably results in a corresponding loss in the variety, and total numbers, of bats.

  • Caves supply the only habitat for a great variety of obligate cave dwelling invertebrates, with some of the species endemic to Jamaica. When this habitat is eliminated or highly degraded, it results in a reduction of the biodiversity not only of the island, but also of the world.

It is too late for some of the speleological sites of the district, the damage has already been done, but others remain, and these must be given a high priority for preservation efforts. We propose that the following actions take place to protect this important component of the natural heritage of Jamaica:

  1. A thorough inventory of the extant caves and sinkholes of southern Manchester be carried out to identify vulnerable sites, with immediate priority given to the sites located within the ALPART mining lands. The target list will be first comprised of the known historical sites, as found in JU, that plot within ALPART Mining Operations lands, as defined in Map 5, which accompanies this report. If previously undocumented sites are found during the fieldwork, they will be added to the list, and also to the final database that will result from the fieldwork. It should be stressed that the accuracy of the positions given in JU is very uncertain. [To quote Dr Fincham, with regard to the GSD positions, “They rarely gave any grid references and one had to do ones best to ‘guess’ the location by scrutiny of the maps!” (Email received by Stewart on Mar 28, 2007)]. It is therefore expected that areas adjacent to the mining lands will also have to be investigated to determine if sites that cannot be found are plotted incorrectly on the maps.

The criteria used to identify vulnerable sites can be those established for the caves component of the Parks in Peril Project (Stewart 2005), amended or augmented by way of consultation with experts in biology and hydrology, and representatives of the bauxite industry. Vulnerable sites are considered to be those that are currently threatened by bauxite mining activity, bat guano mining activity, siltation through agricultural runoff, or inappropriate solid waste disposal, and meet the criteria found below:

    • Sites that periodically act as a part of the local hydrological system. (In the Newport area of south Manchester, these are primarily natural drains.)

    • Sites that contain mixed-species batroosts and associated bat guano invertebrate communities.

    • Sites that have archaeological resources, such as Amerindian artefacts, or middens.

  1. For sites that have been identified as vulnerable and in need of protection, the following measures are recommended:

    • A natural buffer should be left intact in the area around the site entrance, or established, if agricultural activity has removed the original cover. For sites that act as drains, the radius of the buffer area should be a minimum of 50m in the upstream direction, and a minimum of 25m in the other directions. For sites determined to contain mixed-species batroosts, the radius should be a minimum of 25m.

    • The buffer should have vegetative cover sufficient to minimize input of silt for sites that act as drains, and to allow adequate foraging by trogloxene species such as bats and the frog, Eleutherodactylus cundalli.

    • A municipal solid waste disposal service be created that is effective for all of the residents of the district, including those in rural areas.

    • An educational program be established that informs local residents of the damage caused to caves and sinkholes by filling them with trash (i.e. pollution of the aquifer, blocked drainage, increase in mosquito breeding sites).


Monitoring:

To ensure that extant sites identified as vulnerable are protected in deed, as well as in theory, a subset should be selected for periodic monitoring to ensure that input of solid waste is prevented and natural buffers are respected. In addition, there must be a mechanism in place to address problems that arise, with participants from the government, industry, the research community, and local stakeholders. To address the two forms of degradation, mining and solid waste, two programs are necessary:

  1. Monitoring of sites determined to be vulnerable to future bauxite mining activities should take place in the early stages of both mining and land reclamation. This will allow the workers involved, and their immediate supervisors, to be certain of the boundaries that have been established for the buffer areas. Prior consultation with the associated bauxite company, and timely communication during the monitoring phases, are necessary for the program to be effective.

  1. Monitoring of sites determined to be vulnerable to inappropriate solid waste disposal should take place at least semi-annually. Local residents could possibly be enlisted in the program to allow more frequent inspections of sites, thereby allowing rapid communication of developing problems to the appropriate authorities (NEPA, WRA, et al.).


________________________________________________________________________________________

Acknowledgements:

The author would like to thank the following people for their participation: Ivor Conolley (JCO), Alan Fincham (Author - Jamaica Underground), Garvey, Dr David Lee (JCO), Jan Pauel (JCO), Elizabeth Slack (JCO), Drew Snauffer (JCO), Anna Sullivan (Peace Corps), Guy Van Rentergem (JCO).


________________________________________________________________________________________

Literature Cited:

Fincham, A.G. (1997). Jamaica Underground (2nd ed.). Kingston, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press. ISBN 976-640-036-9. 447 p.

Stewart, R.S. (2005). The Caves of the Jamaican Cockpit Country. A systematic inventory and assessment of the caves located within the Cockpit Country ring-road, conducted by the Jamaican Caves Organisation, under contract to The Nature Conservancy – Jamaica. JCO. 290 p.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Maps:


Map 2: Investigated sites – Newport.
(Click for full size)

Click for full size



Map 3: Investigated sites – Old England.
(Click for full size)

Click for full size



Map 4: Investigated sites plotted on ALPART Mining Operations Map.
(Click for full size)

Click for full size



Map 5: “Jamaica Underground” listed sites plotted on ALPART Mining Operations Map.
(Click for full size)

Click for full size


Map 5: List. Positional accuracy undetermined.

#

SITE

WGS84_LAT

WGS84_LON

1

ABBEY_CAVE

+18.020841

-77.536290

2

ALBION CAVE

+18.0019902

-77.4899652

3

ALLAN MARIUS CAVE

+17.9975332

-77.4654027

4

ALLIGATOR CHURCH

+17.8752936

-77.5651024

5

ANDERSON SHELTER

+18.0100121

-77.5315366

6

BELMONT CAVE #1.

+18.0411521

-77.3455700

7

BELMONT CAVE #2.

+18.0411572

-77.3427366

8

BERRY HILL CAVE

+17.9847372

-77.5229634

9

BIRDGIDDIE CAVE

+18.0375365

-77.3465074

10

BLACKWOOD CAVE

+17.9577089

-77.4936190

11

BLENHEIM CAVE #1.

+17.9495283

-77.5124758

12

BLENHEIM CAVE #2.

+17.9468178

-77.5124680

13

BLENHEIM CAVE #3.

+17.9468128

-77.5143559

14

BLENHEIM TRIANGLE

+17.9441539

-77.4945252

15

BLENHEIM TRIANGLE

+17.9468644

-77.4945328

16

BLENHEIM TRIANGLE

+17.9468644

-77.4945328

17

BLENHEIM TRIANGLE

+17.9396460

-77.4907370

18

BLENHEIM TRIANGLE

+17.9405471

-77.4916834

19

BLENHEIM TRIANGLE

+17.9414458

-77.4935738

20

BLOOMFIELD CAVE

+18.0425381

-77.5316341

21

BOSSUE CAVES

+17.8756550

-77.4235654

22

BREEZY HOLE

+17.9928560

-77.5277084

23

BRET'S CAVE

+17.9929310

-77.4993823

24

CANOE VALLEY CAVE

+17.8691626

-77.4943164

25

CARPENTERS CAVE

+18.0197984

-77.5844498

26

CHOCOLATE PARK CA

+17.9050014

-77.6010592

27

CLARENDON PARK CA

+18.0049540

-77.3766605

28

CUCKOLD POINT CAV

+17.8474116

-77.5197286

29

DALEY DEEP SINK

+17.9748114

-77.5182135

30

DALEY LITTLE SINK

+18.0100976

-77.4994306

31

DALEY TWIN SINKS

+17.9901885

-77.5116491

32

DALKEITH SINKHOLE

+17.9875002

-77.5031437

33

DEVIL HOLE

+18.0102417

-77.4399399

34

DUFF HOUSE CAVE

+17.8843287

-77.5651311

35

DUNROBIN #1

+18.0235878

-77.5230779

36

DUNROBIN #2

+18.0208849

-77.5202369

37

DUNROBIN #3

+18.0181591

-77.5258949

38

DUNROBIN #4

+18.0127304

-77.5287118

39

EDINBURGH SINK

+17.9577584

-77.4737946

40

ENFIELD CAVE

+17.9523580

-77.4652843

41

ENFIELD SINK

+17.9550479

-77.4737874

42

EPPING FOREST CAV

+18.0020597

-77.4616376

43

ESSO SHELTER CAVE

+17.9685119

-77.5087543

44

FAR ENOUGH CAVE

+18.0020138

-77.4805226

45

FORBES SPRING CAV

+17.8574290

-77.4895662

46

GAUTIERS BAY CAVE

+17.8636021

-77.5461947

47

GOD'S WELL

+17.8675985

-77.3876916

48

GRAMBIE CAVE

+17.8692946

-77.4395907

49

GREEN VALE CAVE

+18.0425146

-77.5401343

50

GROVE ROAD CAVE

+18.0317570

-77.5089357

51

GUT RIVER RISING

+17.8610990

-77.4669321

52

HARMONS CAVE

+17.9714372

-77.4190736

53

HEATHFIELD CAVE-1

+17.9658830

-77.4766485

54

HEATHFIELD CAVE-2

+17.9550103

-77.4888914

55

HILLSIDE CAVE

+18.0046814

-77.4975268

56

HOPETON BAT CAVE

+18.0154486

-77.5258869

57

HOPETON SHELTER

+18.0208773

-77.5230699

58

HOPETON SINK 1

+18.0073094

-77.5286956

59

HOPETON SINK 2

+18.0127381

-77.5258789

60

HOPETON SINK 3

+18.0181744

-77.5202289

61

HUDSONS CAVE

+17.9747859

-77.5276546

62

IMAGE CAVE

+17.8843829

-77.5462586

63

ISLES SINKHOLES

+17.9549741

-77.5030515

64

JARMONS HOLE

+17.9821599

-77.4710273

65

JOHN CROW HOLE CA

+18.0371555

-77.5174512

66

LOGAN HOLE #1.

+18.0056464

-77.4729782

67

LOGAN HOLE #2.

+18.0047406

-77.4739201

68

LUCK BAT CAVE

+17.8574049

-77.4990011

69

MARTIN SPRING CAV

+17.9118743

-77.3859007

70

MIDWAY CAVE

+17.9748364

-77.5087725

71

MITCHELLS SINKHOL

+17.9568150

-77.4898404

72

MOUNT FOREST CAVE

+17.9114881

-77.5463420

73

NASH CAVE

+18.0344144

-77.5287764

74

NEW CASTLE CAVE

+17.9603878

-77.5058989

75

NEW HALL CAVE

+18.0273281

-77.4739805

76

NEWPORT CAVE

+17.9657763

-77.5181872

77

NOTTINGHAM BIG CA

+18.0198544

-77.5655629

78

OLD ENGLAND CAVE

+17.9930247

-77.4616141

79

OLD ENGLAND MIDGE

+18.0065313

-77.4805349

80

OLD WOMAN'S POINT

+17.8483452

-77.5084100

81

OLDBURY CAVE-1

+17.9738565

-77.5370930

82

OLDBURY CAVE-2

+17.9738798

-77.5285960

83

OLDBURY ESTATE CA

+17.9612230

-77.5313905

84

OLDBURY ESTATE CA

+17.9693700

-77.5257503

85

OLDBURY ESTATE CA

+17.9675909

-77.5153602

86

ON MILE CAVE

+17.8501889

-77.4942635

87

ORCHID CAVE

+17.9477799

-77.4898155

88

PEPPER SHELTER

+18.0197697

-77.5938933

89

PHOSPHER CAVE

+17.8752376

-77.5839739

90

PLOWDEN HILL CAVE

+17.8753478

-77.5462308

91

PLOWMAN CAVE

+17.8752936

-77.5651024

92

PORT KAISER CAVE

+17.8680010

-77.5867807

93

RAYMONDS CAVE

+18.0393468

-77.3446220

94

RED WATER POND HO

+17.9080351

-77.4859308

95

REDBERRY CAVE

+18.0202160

-77.4239106

96

RICHMOND PARK CAV

+18.0429120

-77.3710742

97

RIVERHEAD CAVE

+17.8619979

-77.4688215

98

ROCKY DUNDER CAVE

+18.0153342

-77.5664928

99

ROGER'S CAVE

+17.8692882

-77.4424213

100

ROXBOROUGH CAVE

+18.0020370

-77.4710801

101

SAND HILL CAVE

+17.8610690

-77.4791977

102

SCREECH OWL CRAWL

+17.9748114

-77.5182135

103

SERGENT'S HOLE

+17.9830703

-77.4681973

104

SHERWOOD FOREST C

+17.9632531

-77.4426556

105

SMITH'S CAVE

+17.9241922

-77.5265604

106

SMOKEY HOLE CAVE

+17.9052589

-77.5114043

107

SNOWDON SINKHOLE

+17.9549887

-77.4973875

108

SPANIARD CAVE

+17.8556100

-77.4942786

109

SPANIARD HOLE CAV

+18.0153506

-77.5608269

110

SPRING CAVE

+17.8875233

-77.3632002

111

SPRING GROUND CAV

+17.8843287

-77.5651311

112

STONES HOPE CAVE

+17.9161233

-77.5029414

113

THOMAS HOLE

+17.9929951

-77.4738887

114

TURTLE POND CAVE

+17.8574290

-77.4895662

115

WALES CAVE

+17.9685558

-77.4917610

116

WALES SINKHOLES

+17.9748610

-77.4993314

117

WATER HOLE CAVE

+17.8756953

-77.4046938

118

WATSON HILL CAVE

+17.9521218

-77.5549631

119

WELKIN CAVE #1.

+17.9549518

-77.5115475

120

WELKIN CAVE #2.

+17.9558529

-77.5124941

121

WILLIAMSON CAVE

+17.9993196

-77.4739056

122

WINDHILL CAVE

+18.0110947

-77.4616611

123

WYSLIP CAVE

+17.8501816

-77.4970939

124

WYSLIP WATER CAVE

+17.8501889

-77.4942635


________________________________________________________________________________________

Appendix 1:

Smokey Hole Cave

Introduction:

On Mar 26, 2006, members of the Jamaican Caves Organisation (JCO) descended to a depth of 194m at Smokey Hole Cave, which established a new record for Jamaican cavesS-1.

One year later, on Mar 23, 2007, the JCO became aware that Smokey Hole Cave is on, or very close to, ALPART lands that will be mined in the future. As we regard the site to be very important because of its hydrology, biology, and status as the deepest known cave in Jamaica, we have included information for the site as an appendix to a report on the caves of Newport and Old England that was already scheduled for submission to ALPART, NEPA, and the WRA.

This document, Appendix 1 of the JCO report, “The Caves of Newport and Old England, Manchester”, contains recommendations, a map of the cave based on a survey carried out on Mar 25-26, 2006, and Feb 15, 2007, as well as excerpts from the trip report.

Recommendations:

Information presented in the Newport – Old England report describes processes of cave degradation that can occur when bauxite mining is carried out at, or near, a cave. Unless great care is taken to protect Smokey Hole Cave, degradation, or even complete loss, is very possible. To prevent this from happening, we can propose one simple solution: the establishment of a buffer area around the cave in which no mining will take place. This is addressed below:

  • As noted in the JCO report on the caves component of the Parks in Peril Project (TNC – J, Stewart 2005), the amount of silt found in caves that take water is inversely related to the amount of vegetative cover in the upstream direction. The greatest input of silt occurs during times of heavy rain, when the water rises and crosses land that is otherwise dry. If there is little vegetation to hold the soil in place, whether this is because of intensive agriculture, or mining, the amount of silt entering the cave will be great, and capable of filling the cave entirely (e.g. Farmyard Cave, PiP 2005). Investigations at Rock Spring (PiP 2005) indicate that the minimum amount of cover required to serve as an effective silt-trap for a relatively small dry-season stream during times of heavy rain is 20-25m in the upstream direction.

  • Species that spend part of their life-cycle in caves, but not all of it (trogloxenes), require habitat external to the cave that supplies foraging opportunities (in the case of Smokey Hole, this includes at least two species of bats, and the frog E. cundalli). Caves that are located in areas which have a great amount of natural cover usually have a diverse biological component, while those located in areas with little or no vegetative cover are usually missing species, such as E. cundalli, which would be expected to be present.

  • As described in the Newport – Old England report, inattention to the protection of speleological sites during bauxite mining has resulted in some sites being irreparably damaged (e.g. Wales Cave 2) during land reclamation, even when the cave was not affected by mining directly.

We therefore regard the establishment of an appropriate buffer to be the best preservation solution for Smokey Hole Cave. This leads to considerations of the dimensions of the buffer.

  • Smokey Hole Cave is reported by the local residents to have taken a great flow of water during Emily (July 2005), and indeed, that was the reason why we were contacted by the local residents to explore the site in the first place – they very much wondered where all the water had gone. It is expected that the 25m noted as being necessary at Rock Spring will not be enough at Smokey.

  • At present, the land in the general area of the entrance to Smokey Hole is old pasture, farmlands, and pockets of scrub. Upstream of the entrance, there is a mix of shrubs, trees, grasses and various other plants. There is an existing core buffer currently in place.

  • Observations of mining in Newport suggest that during both mining and reclamation, the original topography of the land can change greatly, with a corresponding change in surface flow patterns. It has also been observed that during reclamation, unconsolidated piles of dirt, marl, and topsoil are available to be washed into drainage sites (e.g. Wales 2). This will occur to a greater degree when the material is upstream of the entrance.

To adequately protect Smokey Hole Cave, the buffer must include the terrain that has the potential to feed water into the cave not only under present conditions, but also if mining were to alter the local topography. A radius of 250m from the entrance is required to accomplish this. We ask that the area shown on the following maps be set aside from all mining activities.


Appendix 1, Map 1


Appendix 1, Map 2


Trip report excerpts for Smokey Hole Cave:
(Full report at www.jamaicancaves.org/smoky_hole_060326.htm)


Smokey Hole Cave
Mar 25, 2006, and Mar 26, 09:30 - May 27, 01:30 EST

District: Cross Keys

Parish: Manchester

WGS84 L/L: 17 54 02.6; 77 30 26.3

 

JAD69: 196134 E, 138796 N

JAD2001: 696244 E, 639085 N

Altitude: 630m JAD69

Accuracy: +/- 20m horizontal; +/- 20m vertical

Type: Passage to shaft

Accessibility: Vertigear

Depth: 194m (Deepest known cave in Jamaica as of Mar 2006)

Length: 250m

Explorers: GSD - 1962; JCO - 2006

Survey: JCO - March 25-26/2006

JU Ref: Text - pg 334; Map - NA

 

Entrance size: 15m W x 10m H

Entrance aspect: Soon come

Vegetation in general locale: Farm/pasture

Vegetation at entrance: Pasture

Rock type: White limestone

Bedding: Poor/massive

Jointing: Moderate

Speleothems: Stals, flowstone

Palaeo resources: None

Archaeo resources: None

Hydrology: Wet (Seasonal)

Siltation: Low

Sink: Dry

Rising: N/A

Stream passage with surface activity: Dry

Stream passage without surface activity: N/A

Dark zone: 60%.

Climate: Warm, humid.

Bats: >5,000

Bat guano: Some

Guano mining: None

Guano condition: Wet/compact

Eleutherodactylus cundalli: Undetermined

Neoditomyia farri: Some

Amblypygids: None seen

Periplaneta americana: Some

Cave crickets: Some

Sesarma: None

Other species: G. cavernicola.

Visitation: Occasional - local.

Speleothem damage: None

Graffiti: None

Garbage: None

Ownership: Private

Protection: None

 

Vulnerability: High. The bat-roost is moderately-sized and consists of at least two species. We suspect this to be one of the largest roosting sites in the district.


Smokey Hole Map - Guy Van Rentergem


Smokey Hole Cave
March 25-27, 2006
Team: G van Rentergem, H van Rentergem, RS Stewart, Ivor Conolley, Elizabeth Slack, Adam Hyde, Barb Gottgen, Knut Borstad, Wayne Francis, Roger Hendricks, Terreca Robinson.
Notes: RS Stewart

On Thursday, Feb 9, 2006, while planning was still underway for the March expedition, the JCO was contacted by Rowan Reid regarding an interesting cave in south Manchester:

"Recently I came across your website and found it quite interesting. I am Jamaican, in fact I grew up in southern manchester... I wouldn't mind discussing with you one specific cave system known as 'smokey hole'. To my knowledge it has only been explored once back in the early seventies. Very few people outside of the local population know of it. Those who do know it's location fear it as it is said to be 'bottomless'. Please feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss this further."

My reply, sent the next day, follows:

"We are indeed interested in 'Smokey Hole' and might have some info on it from the visit in the 70's. Can you tell us the nearest town/village to the hole? That would help us to determine which cave it is (the records of other's visits that we have seldom use the local name). There is a chance that we could investigate it late this March. Would you be available to join us for it?"

Rowan got back to us the same day, Feb 10, with further information:

"I would love to. To be honest that place has held so much mystery as a child growing up. Now I'm no geological expert with the exception of my addiction to national geographic. However, this is what I can tell you. There are several dry river beds which all score their way to Smokey Hole. In the recent concurrent hurricanes of 05 (Ivan etc.), all these ancient (?) rivers reformed some as much as 6 feet in depth, and they all channeled together and ran straight into Smokey Hole. Much to the amazement of the local residents, as there disbelief was centered on 'where does all this water go?' Few facts that you should be aware of:
a.) The location is approximately 1,500 feet above sea level
b.) I'm not aware of any rivers in the area with the exception of Milk River, Guts River, and the Alligator Pond River to which these could lead.
c.) Whenever there is heavy rainfall a thick fog comes from the hole (thus the name).
d.) I'm aware of many attempts to drop items into the hole to ascertain the depth. However, no audible sound of impact has ever been clear.
The location is about half way between the town of Cross Keys, and New Broughton. Both locations are approximately 10 Miles South of Mandeville. I have included a map from Google earth with my best approximation of pertinent locations. Another area of interest to you will be a rock formation known as 'Old Woman Rock' It is called this because of the groaning noises heard from it after a heavy rain fall. It is an cliff like outcropping of limestone that jets out into the sea on the south coast.
These locations are not known by most officials or locals. Much has been steeped in folklore and many people have heard of it but never really seen them. I only know of them because of stories told by my elders and my own curiosity. I hope this is of help too you and I would love to be apart of any further investigation on this subject."

Armed with these details, I was soon able to determine that it was a cave listed in Jamaica Underground, and that it was indeed very interesting.

The crew that would gather at Smokey on Saturday, March 25, 2006, had made various long journeys, and, as expected, we all ran late. Guy, Hilde, Elizabeth, and Stefan had bounced their way from Windsor, in a criss 4x4, via the Barbecue Bottom Road. Rowan had dodged potholes on the main from Ocho Rios. Ivor, Adam, Barb, and Knut had done the run from Kingston. It wasn't until well into the afternoon that we were all collected at Chris's yard, at the start of the short hike that leads to the entrance. Gear was donned, photos were taken, and those of us who had yet to see this great mystery were at last on our way to the cave.

The track to the entrance is very short, perhaps 200m, and leads north through a small farm, then turns west, downhill, through old pasture land, and finally back towards the south to reach a large opening, low on a hill. My first impressions were that it was much larger than I expected. An entrance about 10m high, and 15 wide, opened into a very large, descending passage, with massive breakdown boulders preventing a direct route. The crew that had been there for the recon visits led us in.

After an initial series of bouldery steps, having moved down a good distance from the entrance, we reached a final drop of about five metres into a narrower rift that had a wooden ladder placed in it. The approach to this at the top was under boulders close-set enough to require one to remove a pack to get through. This is probably not the best way to descend into this last part of the main passage before the pit is reached, but it is what we all used during the visit.

At the bottom of the ladder, our recon guides led us another 10 metres to finally arrive at the top of "The Pit". To the left, there was a drop into a lower section; Adam told us that this was where the rocks had first been tossed from. To the right was another opening, more narrow, that also connected to the depths below us, but not at first glance as suitable for rigging. As Adam, myself, and several of the others looked down on this, trying to figure out the best way to reach the step to the left, we suddenly saw Ivor moving past below us. With a "How the hell did you get down there?” we received instructions on how to find a way through rocks further back to the left that would lead us to what would become our first anchor points.

Some time was spent in tossing rocks into the pit and then after discussion on anchors, the work of rigging began. It was our plan to get as much done today as possible, so that we would be that much further ahead for Sunday when we would actually make the descent. Adam and Knut began the process of drilling/hammering holes that would be used to place bolts and hangars for the top tie-off point, while Guy and Hilde began the survey of the upper section, working their way outward with disto, clino, and compass.

The layout of the section closest to the pit follows: the scramble to where we had seen Ivor below us is over/under breakdown boulders until an actual vertical of four metres is reached, this dropping into a small chamber that holds the opening to the main part of the pit. The chamber is about five metres across, somewhat oval, and provides a good waiting area for those not on rope. From here, the vertical extends into the depths for what was at that time still an unknown distance.

Our rigging of the ropes began above the "Waiting Room", with two bolts set into solid rock overhanging the first (four metre) drop. Adam and Knut toiled away at this for a while, then bolts and hangars were placed and we made the short rappel down to the chamber and the actual start of the pit. More rocks were tossed in, and those of us who had not been present for the recons were by now suitably impressed. During the latter part of this period, the bat emergence began, and it was surprisingly large. For the rest of our time at the top of the pit, it continued and I guestimate the total numbers to be in the thousands, rather than hundreds. It was obviously a mixed-species roost, as we could see at least Artibeus, and definitely hear MormoopsS-2. After a stretch of bat-watching, and pit-gazing, it was decided that enough had been accomplished for the day (it was now well past 7:00 PM), and that it was time to return to the surface for food and Red Stripe.

During the next half an hour, we wended our way back out of the cave, catching up with Guy and Hilde en route, near the entrance, who were in the process of finishing off the upper survey. Collectively, we made the short hike back to Chris's yard, and then after a short stop at the cars, we carried on to a nearby cookshop that had great food waiting for us and cold beer


Breakfast had been arranged for 8:00, at the cookshop, and on schedule.

Discussions the evening before had resulted in us deciding to use the Monster Rope (100m of very dense 13mm static line) from the entrance to the pit. This would, we hoped, speed things up by getting us past the breakdown boulders of the entry passage more quickly. Accordingly, I headed off first to the cave with the Monster Rope, at about 9:30 AM, while the others were gathering gear, to anchor it and start feeding it into the cave. By the time I had reached the approach to the pit, straightening rope as I rappelled in to that point, the others had caught up and were making their way in. Some used the rope; others took the usual route through the boulders.

The team now assembled above the short drop to the Waiting Room, and then Guy, Adam and Knut rapped down to begin placing our next anchors. These would be two bolts set in the wall directly above the main vertical of the shaft. The rest of us watched on from above while this was done, and after some thirty minutes the bolts were in place and Guy was preparing to descend.

Five or ten minutes passed, and then we heard from Guy, via radio, that he was at a small ledge about 60 metres down, which extended about one metre into the shaft, and he would set another anchor here from which to hang the second rope. This line would be the new 10mm, 100m long rope that he'd brought from Belgium with him. The sounds of hammering echoed up from below as he went about this, and after about 20-30 min's we heard that things were done, the second rope was hung, with him now on it, and that the next caver could come ahead. This would be Adam.

Adam was soon on rappel, and sliding down into the hole. Guy stayed at the anchor-point awaiting him. Ten or fifteen minutes later, we heard that Adam was with Guy at the anchor, but had decided that he would re-ascend to the Waiting Room while Guy continued his rappel on the second rope. I was next in line for the descent, and ready to go. I radioed down that I'd get on rap and pass Adam at the anchor.

While I was getting on rappel, Guy had quickly descended the second rope to the bottom of the shaft, and had reported that there was no horizontal development. This was unfortunate, but we still had hopes that we might have a new deepest cave in Jamaica, so the news didn't alter my plans to go down, nor those of Knut and Ivor, who were next in line. I was soon on-rope and sliding in. I moved slowly and gently, and after ten minutes I was at the bolts and very quickly changing over to the 10mm.

Adam was soon clipped in to the 9mm and heading back up to the Waiting Room, and I carried on down on the 10mm, feeling extremely confident in the safety of the descent. Guy had done an excellent job of rigging, and now that I was off the 9mm, I had no more fears. I made good time, and was soon touching down to join Guy, a very great distance below where I had started.

I should give a description of this deep pit now, although it was on the ascent that I took a closer look at things. At the top, it is about 7 by 15m, with the long dimension left-right as one enters it from the Waiting Room. It seems to become somewhat larger through the first 70-80m, and then grows smaller and more circular at the bottom. In the middle section, there appears to be at least one parallel shaft that intersects, this to the right if one were to look into the shaft from the Waiting Room above. The total depth, as determined by careful measuring of ropes afterwards, is 134 metres, with this in steps of 4m to the Waiting Room, 69m to the anchors at the fraction, and then a final 61m to the bottom of the pit - there was about 4 more metres of vertical at the bottom, sloping down to the sides, so the true depth is about 138 metres. Thanks to an incredibly powerful light that Wayne and Roger had brought, which was occasionally shone down into the shaft (including while I was on rappel), intermittent views of tremendous depth were presented, as the monster light illuminated this monster hole. In fact, when I was on the 9mm line and this happened, I had to not look down since I felt intimidated enough as it was. It is truly a very impressive pit, especially when one is hanging in it, suspended on what appears to be a long length of dental floss.

We sent up word to the crew above that I was off-rope, and that as soon as Adam had finished his ascent, the next of the team could come down. This would be Knut.

Knut was soon with us, sitting on a rock, at the bottom.

Guy had already looked around, when he first arrived, as I also did soon after I touched down, and found that the bottom of the pit was limited to a pile of breakdown debris filling things below us, with just several small sloping extensions to the sides that choked out within four metresS-4. In the course of this, Guy had managed to locate the remains of a radio that had inadvertently been launched into the pit from the Waiting Room while he was on descent. Needless to say, it was no longer useable.

The time was now late afternoon, and there would be many hours required for all four of us to ascend from this abyss, so very soon after Ivor had touched down, Knut was on his way up. The three of us left at the bottom chatted until we got word that Knut was to the 9mm, and the lower rope was now free. Guy was next on rope, having spent much time in the hole already, with thirty minutes of it done hanging, driving bolts, at the shelf, and quite due to get out. He was soon moving quickly upwards, into the dark, above us.

In a surprisingly short time, we heard that Guy was at the midpoint anchor, and the 10mm rope was free. Ivor clipped in, and headed up. I was now alone in the depths, but our radios had been working splendidly (other than the one that fell into the pit, which wasn't one of my mine), and Elizabeth, star that she is, had faithfully maintained communications through most of the day. As Ivor ascended the 10mm rope, I was able to casually chat with the crew up-top whenever I felt like it.

My ascent would not prove to be too strenuous, but, in truth, it was the most work I have done other than bringing the giant video camera out of Minocal's, for the JIS, in 2005. In order to keep things as light as possible, I was wearing just running shoes, shorts, and a t-shirt, and had little weight in my pack. To accommodate wearing the running shoes, rather than the light-mountaineering boots I usually use for verticals, I had adjusted the foot loops, and the new length was less than ideal, as I realized partway up. I considered adjusting them yet again, while I hung from the chest ascender, but the knots were tight and it seemed like too much work. Mostly, I just wanted to keep moving up. Accordingly, this is what I did.

The plan was that I, coming last, would pull the bolts at the midpoint anchor as soon as Ivor was off-rope and in the Waiting Room. The ascent of the lower rope was shorter than the upper rope, and so I arrived at the anchor while he was still some distance below the top of the pit. Still clipped into the 10mm, I found a small area on which to perch at the shelf, and bided my time until the 9mm was free. This would be about 20 minutes. At last, word reached me via radio that Ivor was off-rope, and that I could pull the bolts. Guy had supplied me with a wrench, clipped with a light kevlar line to my harness, and after straightening out my stiff, cold muscles, I changed over to the 9mm, hung by my chest ascender (with the upper ascender also clipped in), and cranked out the bolts. The first one, the upper of the two, took a few minutes, and then suddenly popped out. For the second, I had to arrange things so that when it pulled out, the extra rope at the anchor would fall in an orderly fashion. This took a couple of minutes, and then I cranked out the second bolt. Everything fell as I expected, to hang suspended from the bottom of the 9mm, and I headed up.

This next section seemed to take forever. It was late, my energy reserves were rather low, and I had to take a break for a couple of minutes every 10 metres. However, this did give me an opportunity to take a better look around than what I'd done on the way down. The most important thing that I saw while ascending the second rope is that the bat emergence (well underway for several hours now, and consisting of flight both in and out) was concentrated in an overhanging area about five metres to the left, as one faces the wall, about 15-20m above the midpoint anchor. I could not see into this, but there was a constant flight of bats in and out of it, suggesting development that includes appreciable roosting space. Secondly, about 30-35m above the midpoint anchor, I could see what appeared to be a definite opening into a parallel shaft, at the far left of the pit, as one faces the wall on ascent. I should note that lower down, I thought I had seen something similar, but had come to the conclusion that it was just dark lignin staining. For this upper observation, I believe I was actually looking into an adjoining shaft, but my headlamp was not bright enough to make it 100%, and I was tired to the point of perhaps seeing what I wanted to see. Nevertheless, it is not unusual (more common, actually) for a pit in Jamaica of this size to have parallel shafts, so I consider a return visit to check on this to be worthwhile.

The last 30m of my ascent were the most difficult. Physically, I knew I could do it, but when looking up, the opening to the Waiting Room, lit by the lights of the others, and with chatting voices echoing down, didn't seem to get any larger. I kept thinking, "Another 10-15m, max", and then I would do another 10m and it would look exactly the same. We have a good number for that section, 69m, 231 ft, but it certainly seemed longer. At any rate, after what felt like a very long time, I arrived back at the Waiting Room. I didn't immediately have the strength to haul myself to the side, to get off the vertical, but Knut, who is incredibly strong, stuck out an arm, pulled me in, and I laid down on my back on the floor muttering, "Yes Jah-jah, give thanks and praise, man". After a couple of minutes, lying there with my eyes closed, I asked how close to the pit I was. Elizabeth matter of factly told me that if I were to stretch my legs out, they would be hanging in the hole. I roused myself, crawled back from the edge, and the others quickly started hauling up rope.

We had now put four people into, and out of, the pit, but the task was not yet over. We had to get ourselves, and the gear, though the series of steps, over massive boulders, which would finally return us to the entrance. Very early on in this, above the ladder, on the first scramble, the first member of the team suddenly had unstable rocks tumble out underfoot, and bounce onto the rest of the party below. Elizabeth got the worst of this, and had some nasty gashes on one of her hands as a result. It was in no way the fault of the person above, but was very much because of all the traffic that the cave had seen during the recons and this two-day visit. Apart from the JCO team, there had been many other curious people, repeatedly taking their accustomed route, that of the recon visits, and rocks that had been held only by old dried mud were now starting to let go. As soon as we were all past this worst part, it was decided that we would forget about the "regular" route, and use the Monster Rope, which still stretched down from the entrance above. This would be more time-consuming, since it necessitated the use of vertical gear for the entire way, and staging, but it was definitely much safer. As the first of the group worked their way up, the atmosphere became somewhat surreal. We had now been in the cave for over twelve hours, we were all tired to the point of entering the dream-like state that accompanies exhaustion in strange places, and above us, the Mormoops blainvillii, the same bats that had sounded like children playing in St Clair Cave five days before, whirred, buzzed, and zoomed, with the sounds echoing in the dark.

The last of our team reached the entrance soon after 1:00 AM. Guy had brought out the entire rig from the pit with him (9mm and 10mm ropes, with bolt hangars attached), with this weighing probably over 30 kilos (the whole works had been kept intact so that it could be measured the next day, by using bolt hangars and strategically placed knots as indicators). This bit of work, especially done so late in the day, was truly a remarkable feat. All that was left to do was haul and coil the Monster Rope, and this was taken care of as quickly as possible.

At 1:30 AM, Mar 27, we stumbled our way along the final hike from the cave, to ten minutes later reach the cars in Chris's yard. Adam and Barb had come out earlier carrying surplus gear, and were still hanging-in. Incredibly, they would make the drive back to Kingston that night, giving Ivor a lift, and Knut would also make the drive in his own car. Myself, I only had energy left to make it to Marcia's and collapse into bed. After a short time spent congratulating each other, and making an effort at sorting out gear, Guy, Hilde, Elizabeth, and I made the final trek to Marcia's, and Knut, Adam, Barb, and Ivor headed for Kingston.

By about 8:00 AM the next morning, we had all crawled back out from our beds. It could be seen that we were all pretty baked, but that we had the knowledge in us that we'd done something very special the day before. After brushing of teeth, and wrapping of sleeping bags, we made our way to the car and stowed things. While the others walked it, I drove the car the short distance to the cookshop so that we could measure our ropes on the road, out front, after coffee. A nice breakfast was soon had, and we then stretched out the ropes. The marked distance was 130 metres, from Waiting Room to the floor of the pit. Guy had done a very quick estimate earlier, based on the uncalculated survey numbers, and we at this point believed that we had 157, total, for the depth of Smokey Hole Cave. If any of us had thought about it, we would have realized that there was something wonky with the numbers for the upper part, but there had been no time, and we were all in recovery mode after we'd left the cave. At any rate, we felt good about things, and after saying goodbye to everyone, we climbed in the SUV and bounced our way back to Windsor.

After the expedition had ended, on April 13, while I was in the process of writing this account, I checked with Guy on the survey numbers. He had first worked on St Clair Cave, and the Acheron River, and then Dunn's, and had not started work on Smokey Hole yet. We were still of the thought that it was about 157m. In reply to my inquiry on the total depth, after he'd run through the numbers, he sent me this email:

"STEF!!!
Total depth of the cave from the entrance to the cricket's festival:
191.2 Meters! I checked and rechecked it man!! Three times, no errors
We have the deepest one on the Island!!
Big news my friend!!"

This number does not include the extra four metres at the sides of the bottom of the pit, so we can safely call it 195 metres, which is indeed a new depth record for Jamaican caves, (Smokey Hole Cave - 195m, Morgans Pond - 186m, Thatchfield - 177m, Dunn's Hole - Dr Fincham agrees that it should have the stated depth adjusted, to be based on our survey done last session, and it has been accordingly moved well down in the list).

Before ending this account of our visit to Smokey Hole Cave, I need to address the contributions of those who do not appear as often as some of the others in the above narrative:

First: Hilde was at the top of the pit the entire time and supplied great help in double-checking people's gear before they began their rappels. This resulted in a couple of things being noticed before, rather than after, they became a problem.

Wayne Francis and Roger Hendricks were onboard for not only the main visit, but one of the recons. It was my first time caving with them (something that I had been looking forward to doing for some time), and it was great to have them with us. They were both solid, they picked-up on vertical techniques quickly, and if they decide to link with us more often, they'll be real assets for the JCO. Apart from that, the giant light they had with them was impressive as hell - I didn't know such things existed. If we have the honour of their presence again in the future, I hope they drag it along with them occasionally.

Barbara Gottgen was another solid hand, and her efforts on that day are greatly appreciated. We knew that if we had problems, she was at the top of the pit, experienced, and would help to get us out.

Lastly, there are two important things that must be noted:

We would not have been successful without the efforts of everyone involved. The information that Rowan supplied, and the GSD visit recorded by Alan Fincham, were what got us there in the first place. The crew who were there for the recons made the main visit possible, and if these had not happened, we would have not put anyone into the pit on Mar 26. The entire team that was there for the main visit, on Sunday, Mar 26, devoted many hours to ensuring that the exploration was a success. All of the participants, from beginning to end, should feel very proud of themselves.

Although this is the deepest known cave on the island at present, we have hopes that there are even deeper caves to be explored someday.

1 The project area was chosen to encompass a large set of speleological sites in a district that had been heavily mined, with a radius of three to five kilometres including the majority of known sites in the district.

2 E.g. Blenheim Caves 1-3 were in an area that has been extensively mined.

3Because of relocation, many of the people in the area around Blenheim Triangle caves 4, 5, and 6 have only lived there for months; they knew nothing of the scrubby bush between the roads.

4 Values are: “None” = No cave-adapted species or bats; “Cave obligates” = Cave-adapted invertebrate species; “Bats” = At least one species of bat.

5 Values are: “Active – occasional” = Takes water during heavy rains; “Dry” = Does not take water

6 Values are “Low – Minor site”; “Medium”; High”. Determined by current biological and/or hydrological importance and degree of likelihood of future disturbance.

7 The best evidence suggests that the site no longer exists, but lack of baseline data and accurate historic positional prevents certainty.

S-1 On Mar 31, 2006, the JCO descended into Dunns Hole Cave, near Stewart Town, which was the first time this had happened in many years. An accurate physical survey was carried out that refined the listed depth of the cave to 70m (it now does not include the very deep cockpit in which it is found), which moved it well down the list of deepest caves (the change was made after consultation with Dr Alan Fincham, whom had originally listed it as a candidate for the deepest cave on the island).

S-2 The bat roost found here could prove to be interesting. It is medium-sized, with regard to numbers, and consists of mixed species. External foraging is in an area that is not forested, and generally dry. This is in contrast to the better-known bat roosts, such as St Clair, Windsor, and Marta Tick, located where flora and fauna is more lush, and rainfall more regular. Netting would be most efficient at the "Waiting Room", although something could still be accomplished at the entrance.

S-4 Once again, a deep shaft in a Jamaican cave would turn out to have no lateral development at the bottom. Why this should be, we do not know, but to date there have been no deep shafts discovered in Jamaica that do anything other than end in a pile of breakdown at the bottom. (We still have hopes for Minocal's Glory Hole, but this might be wishful thinking.) Smokey Hole Cave is formed in well-jointed white limestone that extends hundreds of metres deep (Smokey was determined to be at about 630m during our visit). There is no formation of yellow limestone beneath this that is exposed at the surface in the entire district - to the south, where the land drops steeply to meet the sea, the white limestone gives way to alluvial soils before reaching sea-level. We can speculate that because there are no strong bedding-planes found below the entrance to Smokey (only massive/poorly-bedded white limestone), development has been entirely vertical down to the basement rock, with the shaft of Smokey being now filled with breakdown material to a great depth, but made up of loose enough material that it still allows water to run through. There remains the mystery of where the great amount of water that flooded the cave during Hurricane Ivan finally emerged.