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Jan 27, 2004

RICE BOTTOM CAVE 3


Position: WGS84 - 18 23' 28.4" N, 77 54' 33.7" W, +/- 5 m

Field notes: R. S. STEWART

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

Time in: 14:45 EST, Time out: 15:00 EST

THREAT VULNERABILITY: Low

(Continued from Rice Bottom 1). This was the third of four caves that we would visit this day and the fourth new, unlisted cave of the expedition.

Our local crew from Roehampton were responsible for us finding Rice Bottom 1, 2 and 3; in total, they supplied us with four new caves in the district, all found while searching for Lawson Bottom Cave, (which was never located). All three of the Rice Bottom caves that we would visit this day were similarly oriented, and situated in the same kind of limestone. The limestone is strongly bedded but not as hard as that at Roehampton School Cave, (1.6 km to the north), and there is no sign of chert.

The entrance to this cave is 75 m, 335 deg true, from Rice Bottom 1, across the road and on level pasture land. It faces south and is in a sink/collapse of about 10 m width, and 3 m depth. A passage of 2 m x 3 m runs for about 25 m, 285 deg true.

Like Rice Bottom 2, it is very dry. Because it is on fairly level land, being in a very minor depression, it never receives a great amount of water. It is in the middle of a large pasture, is only a metre or two below the surface, and is getting heated from above.

The morphology of this cave is very interesting; like most of the other Roehampton caves, it owes its existence to flow rather than percolation. In this case, the flow appears to have taken place, and ceased, a great time ago. The current growth of the cave is limited to breakdown from the ceiling above. What I don't understand is why it formed where it did. There is no catchment as such, at least not now. I can only speculate, because we have found many of the caves of the district to share the same orientation, all associated with faults that are indicated on the geological maps, (and also suggested on the topo maps), that this cave formed in a particularly good fault-based crack. We might see in Rice Bottom 3 the exact same morphology as the others, but in a spot where there was never enough flow to develop it the same extent as Rice Bottom 1 or Roehampton School Cave. Pure conjecture on my part, but it should at least be noted that this entire district has a very particular geology. The limestone is generally hard and well-bedded, but varies in hardness over small distances, (i.e. 1 km). The high end is Roehampton School with chert. By the time we've finished the St James project, we should be able to define the zone of greatest hardness by plotting our observations on the map.

Biologically, the cave is a bit of a desert. There were Eleuths near the entrance, and not much further in. It is used by a few fruit-bats at times.

By the end of the afternoon, we had three caves within 250 m, in an area that the local men called Rice Bottom. We decided to number them in order of size. This cave was the same length as Cave 2, but the passage was smaller, so it was accordingly named Rice Bottom 3.

After getting a good GPS position for the entrance, and filling in the data-sheets, we moved on to Windsor Castle Cave.

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