Points for trying

Poor health before Christmas had made a mess of our dive plans for the holiday period. Instead of capitalising on the cold spell we have been watching the forecasts, hoping that the weather would hold whilst we recuperated. It has and a revised plan saw us visiting Tucks Rift in S.Wales today. Recent hard frosts promised good dive conditions owing to low levels of run off into the flooded cave.

Our enthusiasm carried us through changing in sub zero temperatures and the kit lugging into the cave entrance. As normal Andrew dropped down the rift first and went to inspect the sump pool as I sorted the kit for lowering on a rope. The first load was interrupted by Andrews shout from below. The water had the wrong sort of foam on it and smelled evil. We have seen these conditions before in Tucks; a few months ago we attempted a dive that ended when we found whatever created the smell also gave us streaming eyes, sore throats and coughing. Today we called the dive without getting in the water.


Climbing the rift out of Tucks

Back on the surface we returned to the farmyard and chatted with an ill Bernie about the situation. He gave us a sample collection container (a empty Nuttella jar) and we returned to fill it. We are now trying to find someone to test it and tell us what is causing the problem.

So, no dive but twice underground in one day. That is however still only one report for Pete who will now stop sending me emails telling me to post. For now anyway.

Series - Tucks Rift

  1. Tucks Rift
  2. Tucks Rift
  3. Tucks Rift
  4. Tucks Rift
  5. Points for trying

7 thoughts on “Points for trying”

  1. 😯 😯 All sounds a bit concerning…….. I hope the water gets well treated before reaching the taps 😮
    Lucky you didn’t go down in it… although a few blogs on illness could be a whole new subsection on the blog, along with “cakes” :yum:

  2. I don’t bully you that much do I Colin? 😉
    Anyway, if I do, you (well at least everyone else) can see why; your articles are ace! 😛 Cool picture! Can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be carrying dive gear in and out of that rift! 😯

  3. I’d offer to try and work out what was in the water Colin, but I don’t really have the resources in my new job. Does it smell of bad nappies (hydrogen sulphide) or of cow manure? or sileage? or solventy? What is above Tucks Rift, is it the quarry? could they use some interesting chemicals in their line of business? What colour was the water? what colour was the foam? Foam is generally formed of sloughed bacterial cells – i.e. ones that have broken apart, so it suggests that the pollutant may be biodegrading – if so, it’s likely to be agricultural pollution. Is there any suspended matter in the water? If you bring it to the new location of caving club, I can give it a sniff and for identification purposes!

  4. Hadn’t thought of asking you Rach. Thanks for the offer of help, bit worrying to learn you can’t test water where you work 😯

    The smell is slightly more Naphthalene than anything else. To my knowledge there are no quarries in the catchment area of the cave, just farmland comprising of both arable and livestock. The contaminant forms a layer on the surface (static water) that has a strong brown tint which limits visibility to about 10 cm at most, there are no visible particles. When the bottom is disturbed (by dumping rocks in the water) an inky black cloud appears at the surface and then thins out. The foam is unlike normal cave foam in that it is darker, has smaller bubbles and reforms after the water is disturbed. As in the report, disturbing the brown layer caused it to disappear from view after a while but the smell and it’s effects still remained. We didn’t stay around to see if the layer reformed.

    We both think it is degradable but it seems to strong for the normal rotting vegetation that is sometimes encountered.

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