Mystery Cave Project

The purpose of the trip was to measure the concentrations of CO2, CH4, and Rn in cave air and introduce Jackie to caving. The weather on Saturday was gorgeous! I was able to give a ride to Jackie and we arrived at Park Et at 11:00 AM where we met with Kevin from Indiana University Bloomington. We then drove immediately to Mystery. There was no problem opening the gate but it would have been very difficult lowering the gas monitoring equipment through the narrow pit so I decided to enter the cave through the historic entrance. We dragged the frame with the gas monitors over the rubble at the entrance. Kevin put the 40 pound backpack frame with the monitors on his back and we went downstream while measuring the concentrations of CO2, CH4, and Rn in cave air along the way. The sampling points were located at old survey stations. We then took measurements along the passage with the water-gushing flowstone (where we initiate the beginners in wet crawling) and stopped after about 400 ft at a crawl through boulders. We came back to the main stream and went back toward the entrance. Just before reaching the area with the collapsed rocks that reach all the way to the pit entrance we climbed into the passage that starts with beautiful flowstone formations and measured the gas concentrations for about 200 ft. We went back and climbed the boulder slope to the room below the pit entrance. We then followed the northern passage, which was the same we visited in August, for about 1000 ft. Along the way we admired the beautiful rimstone pools and snow white young stalagmites and gave silent thanks to our fellow cavers who left good footholds in the clay slopes. On our way out we made a short detour to the side active passage closest to the entrance and with deep potholes. We were out of the cave at 5:30 pm. It was a very productive trip and both Jackie and Kevin were amazed by the cave. It was a first for Jackie and she did very well.

~Mihai