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Jan 27, 2004

RICE BOTTOM CAVE 1


Position: WGS84 - 18 23' 30.8" N, 77 54' 26.8" W, +/- 5 m

Field notes: R. S. STEWART

Cavers: R. S. Stewart, M. Taylor, S. McCall, V. Reid

Time in: 12:30 EST, Time out: 14:30 EST

THREAT VULNERABILITY: Intermediate

This was our second cave of the day, after Rice Bottom Cave 2, but because it was the most notable of the three Rice Bottom caves explored, we are assigning it the name Cave 1. All three of these caves were new additions to the Register.

We arrived in the district at 11:00 AM, and soon after, at the Roehampton crossroads, we linked with the local men whom we had met earlier in the expedition. Chief amongst these, and our biggest help for the day, was Verdel Reid. Our intention was to find the mysterious Lawson Bottom Cave. We once again had no luck, but during the course of the day managed to add the three new Rice Bottom caves to the Register in pursuit of it.

After visiting Rice Bottom 2, Verdel led us to another opening, 220 m, 50 deg true from the entrance to RB-2. It is found where a seasonal stream sinks below a small cliff, about 10 m SE of the road. The entrance faces E, is about 2.5 m wide x 1 high, and after a short crawl opens into a fissure apx 1.5 m wide that extends vertically about 5 m, or most of the distance to the surface above. After about 10 m of this, another crawl takes one under breakdown boulders for about 15 m, and then the full height of the fissure is again overhead. A short distance on, the fissure gives way to a wider, lower passage, now trending SW. A turn back to the N follows and then the passage begins to become tighter. From here on, things tend to be narrow and then a scramble down a drop of about 2.5 m takes one into an active streamway. The flow was minor at this time of year, but towards the furthest end the stream ran through a series of lovely rimstone pools until a final crawl led into a sumped continuing passage.

By this turn-around point, we realized that we had something special, so we began to survey our way back out. 157 metres later, we were back at the entrance. Verdel was a great help in this survey, grasping the concept immediately, and with him and Martel pulling tape, and me shooting bearings and writing the numbers down, we moved along at a fast rate.

Sesarma verleyi were common in the streamway, Eleuths were present close inside the entrance, and just a few roaches were seen. There are a few Artibeus bats in the fissure section close to the entrance.

The most notable speleothems are the rimstone pools but there are also some nice stals and flowstone.

The land in the area is mostly mixed farming but there is a mix of pasture and tree-cover in the immediate catchment area that is helping to prevent siltation.

The threat vulnerability is being recorded as intermediate due to the potential for siltation if land-use practice changes in the catchment. It should be noted that the seasonal stream-bed that leads to the entrance was dry during our visit but no doubt has an appreciable flow during the rainy season.

I was able to get a good GPS position above the entrance, (listing it as +/- 5 m), the data sheets were filled in, and then we moved on to Rice Bottom 3.

Rice Bottom Cave 1 survey
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