2018-2019 - Geology, Known and unexplored caves


This is a newly discovered cave in BC.
Thought you might be interested in this @kateg . (@Doug4 may be able to give us more information)

2018 Geology Rocks Talk

I watched the interview with the geologist. It is really interesting that it is not a typical karst cave. I wonder how it formed…


I hope we hear more as they continue to explore…and they will be able to tell us how exactly it formed.


I’ve only read a few of the articles, but the one lady is the park expert on volcanoes and admits being a bit out of her field… but as I said to @TerriB in a pm… she did identify the probably culprit… and possible mechanism
Back in Ontario, we expanded our selection of caves using the same idea… one this big blends two possibilities.

Anyway… the vast majority of caves are created in softer limestones by solution and a bit of erosion. then there are lava tubes in volcanic rocks… and as we found once we figured out the almost obvious…

We were mostly dealing with a thin layer of limestone that was pressed down under the large glaciers of the last ice age… then popped up and fractured as a result depending on what was sitting on top of it… that left us with lots of crevices to poke around in… two of the guys in our caving club were at Queens U and had the idea finally that hey… marble was just metamorphosed limestone and some was fairly soluble and they started looking for marble deposits and we found a bunch of new caves… mostly water flows through fine cracks and not the usual dissolving as in limestones, but it happens…

The limestone areas in Southern Ontario are also home to things alluded to in the articles… I knew them as pot holes, not the English term for pit caves, those are mostly solutional… dolines… but these ones were of the type formed by rock that got trapped in depressions in rivers and while able to move, ended up being stirred around by the water current, slowly grinding the riverbed and themselves into round rocks… the result is visible near Rockwood Conservation area NW of Toronto… odd pits in the old river bed… some quite deep… and mysterious… until you learn the how… Our commentary alluded that was a possible starting point but the timeline will tell if it was the chicken or the egg… did a rock encounter a depression and start swirling in the water… and why… was the water simply flowing into a crack in the ground already… In this case it could go either way… but most likely is that it was both at the same time… They also say that the water appears to resurge about 2.x km away and lower down… I assume they did a dye test… hope they were careful… flourescein doesn’t need much to show up in a coconut fiber trap… and rhodomine [sic] can be as well…
I was on one trip where one of the testers… was a bit carried away testing swallow holes many years back… and while adding agent to all the swallows on the plateau, got a bit sloppy on a big flow and dropped the jug which flowed into the creek and then the swallow hole… (relax… we restrained the jug and removed it… )
No pollution there… almost… Next day we were looking down from the plateau camp looking to see if any dye had shown up… there were several ways it could have gone on both sides of the plateau… nope they ALL seem to have gone the same way… nothing on one side… and the river way down there was GREEN… overkill, but we didn’t need the traps to tell us… ha. Needless to say we made ourselves scarce…

Anyway this was probably done the same since no one claims to have done a through trip… to the resurgence… I think it will take a lot of thinking to go too far into there…

I was going to send @Jim7 a video I found of a chap doing the waterfall entrance to McFails cave… the guy looked like he was having difficulty was my first thought, but was probably hamming it up for the camera… my other thought was that he should have tried that at High Water - Entrance Closed due to Flooding as signed but… I went in because I was trying to catch my friends who went in the ‘SAFE’ access, but my bod didn’t fit…
I think it was easier for me than that guy… experience and good gear helped… but in his case the normal flow ALL landed on him… whereas the high, flood flow actually arced out away from the drop… I didn’t even put out my carbide lamp flame just looked down… although I did have a auxiliary electric as well… I came out the same way, but talked someone to come to keep me company on the way out… they had their vertical gear with them… when we came out, scared the heck out of one of the cave wardens… who wondered where we came from… we said the cave entrance over there… he said it is flooded closed… we said we didn’t know why since it was quite doable safely… long story… but it was the easier route for me… and the information added to the cave rescue book… for that cave.

Hope that helps.


@Jim7 this is a video… a bit better than the other one I found… still not as I did it, but closer… maybe I started something that day…Coeyman’s Dome… McFails Cave wet

@TerriB this was in case Jim isn’t wet yet…


I stopped spelunking back in the mid-70s when I put my hand through a window (falling) and sliced everything off 3 fingers - down to the bones. Put me out of commission - work and play - for 5 years while having 10 operations on my hand… and taking parts from here and there and popping them into my hand and fingers. :neutral_face: Haven’t crawled around in caves ever since. It was fun - and a few nervous times. But I do miss it. Oh… we did take two of our granddaughters to Howe’s Cave, but when the guide showed us a “new” section they were going to open to experienced climbers, my wife turned to me and said, “No!” :face_with_raised_eyebrow: :rofl:


Thanks @Doug4 for your insight!


@Doug4, I did use to make a lot of visits to Spider Cave and once visit to a cave along Fox Creek in Schoharie County. That last cave was nothing more than a crawl space - very dry and loaded with spiders. Nothing else. I wondered what they ate as we didn’t see anything else in the cave. After crawling about a 0.5- 0.75 miles/0.8-1.2 km, we turned back and headed home. Spider Cave isn’t too far from where one of my older sisters lives. :smiley:


Thanks for not laughing… I’m only an old spelunker who also did some Cave Rescue… not into geology… but I did learn about potholes the hard way… almost… we used to dive into plunge pools below waterfalls etc… small ‘glacial potholes’ are similar to the river ones… and when we were in some of those looking for artifacts of the fur trade, we were the small rocks…

As a person involved with geology, what did you think were other possible ‘creators’ of this hole… not a typical doline (collapse dome?) I’ve been in two really big ones Sotano de los Golondrinas and El Sotano in Mexico that were huge… the first one, would allow you to see the top of the CN tower… the second you would have to look down…


You people have me checking out some caves I used to frequent. I just realized that it’s been 46 years since I was last in the Clarksville Cave (Clarksville, NY). My “baby” sister lives in Clarksville. :smiley: I never realized there were 3 entrances to the cave. Probably didn’t go back far enough to come up to the other two. The one we entered by was next to an old concrete landing strip from WWII era. There have been high-tension power lines running diagonally across it for at least 50 years now. Anyway, the entrance we used is actually a “hole” in the floor of a sink hole just off one side of the old landing strip. We watched a bobcat catch a field mouse as we were taking a break for lunch outside of the entrance. I still can’t believe how long ago that was. :roll_eyes: Dropping down through the small hole into the cave room, you can see a narrow slit in the rock. I slid through that for about 15’-20’/4.5-6 m before it just dead-ended. I remember how hard it was to get turned around and slid back out. It was less than 20"/50 cm high, but was about 15’/4.5 m across. In the opposite direction was the actual cave. After walking along for quite some way, you come up to an underground stream. We met up with a small group of college-aged “kids” that had inflatable canoes or kayaks (can’t remember which). They were quite loud and we heard them coming from quite a distance. Boy that water was cold. I do remember that! :laughing: So yes Doug, I got “wet”! :wink:


@kateg I’m going to add a few ideas… While I haven’t been active caver since the 80’s for health reasons… I do keep up in the SaR and Cave Rescue areas… and some of the caves in this area have similar physical structures… I’ve also been looking at the Wells Gray Park features in general…

Considering mechanisms that might be at play… the obvious one not mention but very evident is ICE…
As the geologist mentioned a lot of regional glaciers have been receding the last many years… in fact centuries… I can vouch for that in the alpine levels… in 69 I was climbing up in the Banff and Yoho NPs… and one of the most enjoyable was a climb that took us up the mountain and onto a fair sized glacier then up to the summit ridge and back… to stay with this story… point was I looked over there and many of the smaller glaciers that were in that area don’t seem to be there any more… and I can say that they were not that little… I looked at GE history images and they have been gone for many years already… That is a big factor in place… and contributes to an increased water flow… and that falling in creates spray and on cold rock ice.
Think about that… while I mention something else… Ice caves tend to form ice in the spring and early summer… sounds odd but it isn’t… We know that this cave swallows the water (and often cold air)… such a system will resurge further down the mountain… this does not have to be human passable, just enough to allow water out and air as well. That goes for the whole system… Where you have a high opening and a low opening the air flow direction will be seasonal… and is usually Winter down flow Summer upflow and then there are transitional spring and fall seasons that are governed by the local climate… not always the weather, but that can happen… The result is that really cold air sinks into the upper opening and chills the rock all the way through whatever passage exists… some will freeze the low water flow… but the important part is the chilling… come spring and the water flow starts to increase some more will freeze on the chilled rock… however the air flow starts to move upward since warmer air rises… this warmer air eventually becomes humid and rises to the cold rock passages and the humidity starts freezing in the small cracks in all the surfaces… and this is the ice that expands in the smaller cracks and scales off bits of rocks… and slowly works up the cave toward the upper entrance… One strong reason that mountain caves are quite risky in the spring and early summer… and often inaccessible due to heavy ice formations… happens to limestone and other forms of caves like the marble ones… IF you have the elevation differential… and air passage. and humidity…

I stress that this is hypothetical in this case and something that could be studied specifically there…
but it is evident that some of that remaining ice is still attached to the rock high up above the inflow…
There was a fatality up in the Crowsnest Pass area… in Mt. Ptolemy area a few years back when a group was trying to access a cave there (limestone) and a block of ice in the entrance came loose and fell on them… I was over in Vernon then… but we (SAR) went out several times looking for people there that were overdue from the cave…

Anyway… I’d say that needs to be part of the explanation… enlarges caves in conjunction with erosion by water in or out of caves… I don’t know if you have looked at Wells Gray Park, but many areas are locally famous for waterfalls just popping out of high cliffs… and I suspect this is one that is just starting (geologically speaking) to do that… eventually… I can easily understand that the speleologists will be having a field day (literally) with this in the near future…


My overall fav National Park…cannot go through that area without stopping! My first trip there was in 1966ish…we lived in Calgary and ventured into BC quite often. Takakkaw Falls…beautiful! The waters of Emerald Lake that glacier turqoise color. Not as tourist busy as Lake Louise.

so true!!


I wasn’t sure. Caves are not my area of expertise and I had never thought about non-karst caves. But your explanation of ice being a cause makes a lot of sense. That whole area was covered with glaciers a few thousand years ago. Glaciers advance and retreat every year with the seasons and this causes a tremendous amount of force. Then after the end of the ice age, you had (still have) rebound of the continental crust due to the weight of the ice being gone. Together with the seasonal effects you describe, this sounds like a likely cause. I’ll have to visit the literature on these types of caves. Thanks for your insight! How big do you think this cave system might be? Do these types of caves tend to be smaller, different structure (geometry) than the karst-style caves?


I bought this book a few years back and have not yet read it. This conversation thread has inspired me to pull if off the shelf!

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Cave on Earth

Edit: Removed E-commerce website name


I have seen a few types of caves in limestone around North America… I think the limits on this one won’t be much different from some of those. In the article they comment that the resurgence was 2.? (bad memory again) km away… and below the entrance level… for sure… So it’s possible that the overall length could be either about that… or a bit longer… How is that for hedging… Seriously though that is the straight line approach … but caves don’t do that in my limited experience… it isn’t a sewer for sure… They also say the entrance has a drop of about 100 m down and likely to the side a ways… the helicopter view at one point shoots looking down the maw of the pit at an angle… and other than a snow/ice mass seems happy with that.

So down 100m and over a few metres… likely towards the valley shown… I will continue to try to figure and area… but first glimpse at that video and some stills I found… looks to move down at maybe 30 degrees and then probably flattens out lower down… maybe several times… as do the mountain caves I’ve been in…
down then over and down again and over more and so on till it gets outside… in that park, there are several waterfalls that seem to spring from old caves that have succeeded in eroding their way outside and that is likely common up there… same rock types, same strike and dip structure… lots of water and rock…
Nothing I saw suggest it would exit at a point almost straight below the entrance… so there is still room to go most of the stated distance… and I assume that is measured by GPS… so I assume that the distance stated is also mostly horizontal… GPS don’t deal with geometry well in my view… experiment if you have access… pretend you are on a tall building… and the front door of the tall building across the street is visible so you take a reading on top and store it… then go to the front door across the street and look at the go to distance and bearing of the top… which you stored… maybe 30 stories above you… and you at ground level will see it say bearing to travel is… say 270 degrees and 100 feet in that direction away… Really? you can see it is almost 300 feet above you… that is a survey problem… trig will solve the problem but… you see … and that is a straight line of sight… don’t expect that in a cave that twists and turns… but can be done… to a GPS earth is smooth like a billiard ball… no elevations… unless you calculate them… which they can… just saying…
I would say that harder rock can mean smaller cross sectional areas… but is not estimable… easily with this data and local experience… like the USPS guide once said (I believe at Mammoth Cave) … his favourite head shaker type question… “How many miles of undiscovered passage are there to still discover”. Many years ago the Mammoth / Flint Ridge systems were over 150 miles surveyed… read " the Longest Cave" R. Brucker is my best remember of the author… it’s a history of the exploration.
I’m not familiar with the one you mention but will have a look online, maybe the local Library…maybe my card hasn’t expired.


Back when I was working I used to hear a lot of stories about a cave whose entrance was between a town road and a county road - at a Wye intersection. People said it was nearly a mile/1.6 km long, but very narrow. I must have been asked at least a dozen times if I had ever gone into it. I always told everyone that I had never been to it. One day we were working on the town road near this intersection. During lunch break I took a walk to where I was told the entrance was. It was there… very small opening in a crevice in the rock face. I took a quick peak inside and it was narrow as far as I could see. The biggest problem I saw was the fallen rock that littered the floor. This area has many rock outcrops - even the town road had to be cut through the rock in several spots. There is a stone quarry within a couple of miles in which they dynamite every so often. Many people have had their wells collapse because of the blasting over the years. When I saw just how close this cave is - and where it headed - I decided that this is one cave that doesn’t require my curiosity. If someone was inside when they dynamited, a wall could collapse which could either crush you, bury you, or block the way out. That was one not for me. Turns out only a handful of people ventured into this and of those, only two or three went the entire length. Found out one guy almost got stuck in there trying to fit through one section that was very, very narrow. If I remember correctly, I think the county may have dumped several loads of fill into/onto the mouth of this cave because of the dangers. That was well over 20 years ago.
All the rock in this area (and extending for several miles to the southwest) has very deep crevices - some nearly 100’/30 m deep, but most are about 60’/18 metres deep. One can walk through the woods and suddenly come across a “crack” in the ground. This crack may be anywhere from 18"/45 cm wide up to several feet/1+ metres across. And these cracks can run for 100-300’/30-91 metres long. Many of them end at the edge of cliff. (There are also many of these where my wife and I used to deer hunt back in our younger days. :smiley:) I have come across a few that I knew quite well and found they had either widened or collapsed some. So I figured this cave was probably part of this system and that’s why I decided it was a no-no!




From the article:

Interesting! :face_with_monocle:

split this topic #20

3 posts were split to a new topic: Death of a Tomnod Mod - AKE