Originally uploaded by Mic2006.
Odd as it may seem to the uninitiated, this smooth-worn crevice overlies the sinkpoint of some ancient river. Though it is choked with leaves today, in the late 90’s an veritable army of divers had set up camp here, all in support of a big push in the inky passages beneath. Terry Martin and Kim German had been exploring the sump for the last eight years and the final effort to reach it’s end was made by Kim in 1998. In a six and a half hour solo dive he reached a rubble blockage an astounding 1.4 miles in. It is a sumped exploration that has exceeded any other according to the two the explorers.
At the bottom of the crevice in the photograph there is a small slot and through it a diver can drop some 15 feet into a pool of freezing water. Beneath here the explorer finds himself floating part way along the known extent of this particular system. I know of two other entrances some short distance away but in following on from here, the cave passage dips beneath the water and any who progress along there do so at their mortal peril.
D, a former cave diver says that the Ontario conditions are vastly different from those in the South. In Florida the water is warm and the tunnels are usually spacious and of near limitless visibility. The conditions in this particular cave are absolutely abominable.
The diver soon reaches a low shelf and after pushing his tanks in front of him he will emerge into a dul brown dolostone tube, This conduit is generally five-feet wide and it dips down to a depth of sixty feet beneath the water table. It is like an intestine that ribbons through the rock beneath the local farmer’s fields. The world carries on it’s business unaware of the shadowy figgures finning along beneath their feet.
Unlike in Florida, this tube is generally of zero visibility, the silt is so thick that caving lights can barely penetrate the mirk. The divers report that they had found a new species of sightless isopod deep into the system as well as amazing clay structures and walls coated with crystals of girthite that crumbled at the touch.
Within the rock it is a world of boundless wonder but also one of lethal consequence. Open water divers who attempt to translate their skills to tunnel exploration take an enormous risk. Cave diving is considered to be the most dangerous sport in the world -though the sport’s practitioners will deny it to the man (or woman).
CHECK OUT MY BOOK IN THE SIDEBAR TO THE RIGHT, I RECORD MANY SUCH LOCAL EXPLORATIONS BENEATH THE PROVINCE’S ROCK. iT ALSO MAKES A GOOD COMPANION TO ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN ONTARIO’S SEDIMENTARY GEOLOGY.