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WKPP Exploration: Setting up for 2007
(The WKPP ended its most productive year ever with a pre-New Year's Eve dive at Wakulla Springs to set the stage for new push dives in January 2007. Casey McKinlay submitted this report with the details of last week's dive. The dives took place on December 29/30, 2006. -anthony)
Despite recent rains, the Wakulla basin was 65ft+ this weekend with 40-50ft of visibility in the cave system. Doug Mudry, Kell Canty and Robert Bognar did a great job getting everything setup in the basin on Friday.
Both Rebreather teams departed early Saturday morning. Team 1 (Messersmith, Miller and Rose) handled re-routing of the primary guideline over the "Mountain" at 4,200ft with John Rose then leading Team 1 into M-Tunnel. Team 1 discovered dark water in M-Tunnel. Normally there is clear groundwater flowing from M into the main cave passageway so this discovery was unexpected and the cause will need to be determined. Team 2 (Jablonski and McKinlay) traveled into the western O-Tunnel bypass past 6,500ft in an attempt to determine the source of the clear water discovered during the September dives.
Several leads were checked with the team deciding to push further into a small tunnel at 7,500ft discovered by the WKPP in the late 90's. Jarrod recalled there was a lack of flow when the tunnel was originally discovered and the small size would have been a challenge with the original Halcyon PVR rebreather so the team looked elsewhere. Not the case on Saturday as the team discovered high flow and phreatic features associated with large amounts of water moving through a small passageway. The tunnel was small compared to most of the Wakulla tunnels requiring single file in several sections and opening up to allow side by side travel in other parts. The floor was swept clean in several areas with feathery, black silt mounds along the way. The high flow blew out most of the silt as the team moved slowly through the tunnel. The cave appeared to be opening up larger each time the team moved through a restrictive area and began to take on the distinctive look of Leon Sinks with clear, light green colored water. Average depth was 280ft through most of the passageway and the tunnel was trending due west. In total, 2,600ft was added with plans to return on Jan 12-13 to explore further. The significance of the discovery has not yet set in after all these years of working to connect the Leon Sinks and Wakulla system. High flow tunnel trending west from Wakulla towards Leon Sinks is a huge discovery as the WKPP works to close the gap in the coming weeks.
Huge thanks to the entire team this weekend-- especially Todd Leonard and Shellie Foss, who ran a perfect surface operation and had everyone packed up and on the road by 11pm Saturday night. Additional thanks to the support guests this past
GREAT READ!! Thanks for the post. It's exciting to hear of 2,600ft + of virgin cave being explored that sits in our back yard. Not a lot of it left (i.e. not only in Mexico or Asia or wherever, but still in N. Florida). Glad to hear someone is having the opportunity.
Kudo's to the team.
Nice report.........thanks for the update. 8)