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Thread: Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

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    RBW Member bluedjango1 will become famous soon enough bluedjango1 will become famous soon enough bluedjango1 will become famous soon enough bluedjango1 will become famous soon enough bluedjango1's Avatar
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    Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

    Past/Related Exploration of the Weeki Wachee Karst Region
    • In the early 1980's, Sheck Exley, Jamie Stone and Jim Benz laid approximately 220 feet in the first room below and beyond the restriction at the bottom of the fracture. They ended their line at a breakdown pile that spans the western edge of room and believed they had walled it out. They also put in approximately 100 feet of line in the "dead syphon" tunnel. Around the same time at Twin Dees Spring (about 2.5 miles away), Paul Heinerth had explored the first 1,300 feet of this spring to a large terminal room known as the Pleasure Dome.

      In the mid-1990s, David Miner and Jeff Petersen (forming the second Karst Underwater Research (KUR) project) discovered a new lead 1,000 feet into the system. This lead turned out to be the source of the water and led to the discovery of a very large room, dubbed Middle Earth, and the primary conduit for the system with average depths of 270 ffw to a maximum penetration of approximately 3,300 from the entrance. This source tunnel continued on from there. However, subsequent exploration got deferred as the spring's discharge velocity swung back and forth from stagnant to a raging torrent and other distractions prevailed.

      Due to an extended drought, in June of 2000, Scott Pulliam, Bill Lester and Paul Heinerth managed to get in with steel 104's and swam Sheck's line. The next day, Paul tried to get with his CisLunar MK5, but only got to 160 ft. because the force of the flow was collapsing the breathing bags. Within the next few days the flow recovered and no more diving was permitted by Weeki Wachee's attraction management.
    2006 - Planning Ahead
    • In anticipation of the increasing drought, KUR re-established permission from Weeki Wachee's attraction management and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) for cave diving exploration at Weeki Wachee. KUR project members then installed heavy climbing rope in the fracture from 40ffw down to the beginning of the pivotal restriction at the bottom of the fracture at 145 ffw.
    Exploration in 2007
    • The team hoped to get inside the system and explore as much as possible. We specifically wanted to make connections to the Twin Dees tunnel as well as a nearby sampling well, the "F" well, which had intersected a large tunnel between 270-300 ffw (and captured a crayfish on camera! - see Walter Pickel's article in the 2nd Quarter 2007 issue of the NACD Journal).

      KUR project members moved climbing rope in the fracture from 40ffw down to 70ffw to address the "attractive nuisance" effect the rope was having for open water divers. Additionally, we installed rope from 145ffw to Sheck's existing line inside the system creating a continuous guideline from the cave through the fissure.

      Over the course of May and June, over 20 working dives were performed with each requiring two or more set-up dives where teams brought scooters and tanks through the restriction and staged them within the system. Aside from other set-up dives, surveying dives and video dives, here are the exploration hi-lights. The system-wide morphology of this cave is almost all gigantic, white wall tunnels with break-down covered floors, punctuated with even broader chambers, like numerous large meals along the body of a python.

      Within a few days after the July 14th dive, the flow increased to where entry/exit in the restriction at 145ffw became too risky to continue. The exploration project is on hold the flow decrease again into the acceptable range for exploration activities.
    We'd like to thank everyone on the team for their sacrifices and being integral part of making this exploration project a huge success.

    The Weeki Wachee Karst Project Team
    Robert Brooks
    Jackie Clark
    Joel Clark
    Eric Deister
    Kelly Deister
    Paul Heinreth
    Brett Hemphill
    Lindsey Hodges
    Corey Mearns
    Dali Mearns
    David Miner
    Bill Oestreich
    Jeff Petersen
    Walter Pickel
    Micheal Poucher
    Sandra Poucher
    Scott Pulliam
    Steven Straatsma
    Ben Wilcher
    Bert Wilcher

    A special thanks to:
    Chris De Felice (DiveWeeki.com)
    John Athanason (Weeki Wachee)
    David DeWitt (SWFWMD)

    OUR SPONSORS
    Salvo Diving
    Silent Submersion
    Tampa Adventure Sports

    Key Exploration Dives

    May 27, 2007
    Brett Hemphill added just over 700 feet of line past the restriction/breakdown where Sheck's line with depth averaging 250ffw. On this solo swim dive with his KISS CCR, Brett Hemphill swam to the end of Sheck's line and then found an easily passable keyhole restriction through the breakdown collapse. After the restriction, Brett found himself in very large tunnel that averaged 15 feet high by 50 feet wide, with breakdown covered in a layer of silt and sand giving it the appearance of a winter mountainscape. Then the tunnel size expanded to average 25 feet high by 80 feet wide. He followed the tunnel and flow westward to another restriction at a depth of 278ffw, dubbed "White Death" because of the clay composition of the tunnel. We suspect the tunnel beyond this restriction is the primary source of the silt in the first 1,200 feet of the system and it is probable that this passage leads to a sink that was covered when the Weeki Wachee parking lot was laid.
    Bottom Time: 1.5 hours
    Deco Time: 4 hours
    Exploration Team: Brett Hemphill
    Support Team: Eric Deister, David Miner, Jeff Petersen, Walter Pickel, Micheal Poucher, Sandra Poucher, Bert Wilcher

    June 16, 2007
    On a solo scooter dive with his KISS CCR, Brett added almost another 1,300 feet of line. Just before the White Death restriction, he spotted the real primary tunnel and followed it to the very large room, dubbed the River Room, with two very minor tunnels extending off of it. Brett doubled back, realizing that the primary tunnel must have split on him, again. With tunnel this large and only one diver's light, the "main" tunnel isn't as obvious as you would expect. Again, back in the true primary tunnel, he scootered on southward, passing through a short, restricted area of breakdown collapse which then opened up back into large tunnel and then yet another amazingly large room dubbed, Helm's Deep. On the southern end of the room, two large leads appeared evident.
    Bottom Time: 1.5 hours
    Deco Time: 4 hours
    Exploration Team: Brett Hemphill
    Support Team: Robert Brooks, Jackie Clark, Joel Clark, Eric Deister, Kelly Deister, Lindsey Hodges, Corey Mearns, Dali Mearns, David Miner, Jeff Petersen, Walter Pickel, Micheal Poucher, Sandra Poucher, Ben Wilcher, Bert Wilcher

    June 29, 2007
    The dive plan was to explore simultaneously the two leads off of Helm's Deep, Brett, on his KISS CCR and Paul on his Dive Rite Optima CCR scootered to Helm's Deep. From there, Brett took the more southern trending tunnel. Paul followed for a short distance and then separated to explore a large side tunnel heading west. Brett added approximately 1,900 feet of line through amazingly large tunnel (averaging 70 feet high by 100 feet wide) to a depth of 342 ffw until the tunnel began to pitch steeply downward. This drop off was named Mount Doom. Brett also identified two more possible leads along the western wall between Helm's Deep and Mount Doom. Paul added approximately 1,200 feet of line in the large west tunnel. However, this tunnel, nicknamed the Dead Marshes Tunnel had no discernible flow, the water was darker and clearly stratified and stagnant with bacteria colonies. At present time, the question remained if this could be the connection to Twin Dees, since the spring has been stagnant for the last two years.
    Bottom Time: 2 hours
    Deco Time: 7.5 hours
    Exploration Team: Brett Hemphill, Paul Heinreth
    Support Team: Robert Brooks, Eric Deister, Lindsey Hodges, Jeff Petersen, Walter Pickel, Micheal Poucher, Sandra Poucher, Scott Pulliam, Ben Wilcher, Bert Wilcher

    July 14, 2007
    Brett (KISS), Paul (Optima), Corey Mearns (Megalodon) shoot video of the first 2,000 feet of the system using Silent Submersion's new Death Ray and add 1,600 near Mount Doom; they confirmed (via 3 computers) a depth of 403 ffw at the bottom of Mount Doom - and this was not on the "very bottom." From there the tunnel got shallower again (in the 370ffw range) but ended in a room with a much smaller springing tunnel extending off of it. After doubling back a short distance, they found main trunk again and added the remainder of the line there. In the main tunnel near the end of the dive, the team passed a section that looked as if they may have hit the spot where the F well's drilling breached the ceiling of the tunnel. The large, main tunnel (where the "F" well connection may have been made) continues, but the dive was terminated on time.
    Bottom Time: 2 hours
    Deco Time: 9.25 hours
    Exploration Team: Brett Hemphill, Paul Heinreth, Corey Mearns
    Support Team: Robert Brooks, Jackie Clark, Joel Clark, Eric Deister, Kelly Deister, Lindsey Hodges, Dali Mearns, David Miner, Jeff Petersen, Walter Pickel, Micheal Poucher, Sandra Poucher, Steven Straatsma, Ben Wilcher, Bert Wilcher

    Summary distances to point of penetration from Weeki Wachee Spring entrance
    "Sheck's Folly" restriction 220
    White Death 997
    River Room 1,158
    Helm's Deep 1,700
    End of Dead Marshes 2,442
    Mount Doom 3,655
    End of Moria (after Mt Doom) 4,229
    F-Well intersect 3,961
    End of the F Well line 4,271
    Total new line laid 6,728

  2. #2
    Stefan Besier caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7 has a reputation beyond repute caveseeker7's Avatar
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    Re: Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

    Congratulations to the team, excellent diving.

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    Re: Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

    Absolutley amazing diving! Congratulations on a sucessful exploration.

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    Jani Haaja jhaaja is just really nice jhaaja is just really nice jhaaja is just really nice jhaaja is just really nice jhaaja is just really nice jhaaja is just really nice jhaaja is just really nice jhaaja is just really nice jhaaja is just really nice jhaaja is just really nice jhaaja's Avatar
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    Re: Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

    Spectacular diving and not done on RB80, would like to qute one GI for ECCRs and technical diving... :D

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    RBW Member Rasmus is an unknown quantity at this point Rasmus's Avatar
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    Re: Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

    Congrat on the exploration....

    I remember you telling about these dives when I last visit you...

    Cheers

    RL

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    All IMVHO obviously... Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field has a reputation beyond repute Ben Field's Avatar
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    Re: Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

    Nice report, sounds like you got your self a real monster to explore!

    Look forward to seeing some pics.

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    Re: Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

    Congratulations.

    Nice to see some original Florida Karst exploration without any WKPP shite.

    May your lines grow long and your people stay safe.

  8. #8
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    Re: Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

    Great dives and an excellent dive report.

    Thanks,

    RRB

  9. #9
    RBW Member bluedjango1 will become famous soon enough bluedjango1 will become famous soon enough bluedjango1 will become famous soon enough bluedjango1 will become famous soon enough bluedjango1's Avatar
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    Re: Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Field  View Original Post
    Nice report, sounds like you got your self a real monster to explore!

    Look forward to seeing some pics.
    We did not capture many still shots, here is some video footage in a Tampa newscast...

  10. #10
    CCR cave instructor jojo l'affreux is a jewel in the rough jojo l'affreux is a jewel in the rough jojo l'affreux is a jewel in the rough jojo l'affreux is a jewel in the rough jojo l'affreux is a jewel in the rough jojo l'affreux is a jewel in the rough jojo l'affreux is a jewel in the rough jojo l'affreux's Avatar
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    Re: Weeki Wachee Spring: 2007 Exploration Report

    Amazing !

    Congrats to the hole team.

    Frank.

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