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Thread: What do cave divers use as dye to trace water movement?

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    RBW Member Dan Wright has a spectacular aura about Dan Wright has a spectacular aura about Dan Wright has a spectacular aura about Dan Wright has a spectacular aura about Dan Wright has a spectacular aura about Dan Wright's Avatar
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    What do cave divers use as dye to trace water movement?

    This video is a re-edit of one I posted a week ago with more accurate color and contrast than the previous YouTube video. The white cloud layer (possibly sulphur), I believe is building up inside the "Wright Gallery" as it pushes out of the system. In the northern wall tunnels, this white cloud is proceeding in a straight line, I think out of the site itself. On Sunday, another diver spotted a white cloud along the western and northern walls, at about the same depth as this tunnel. We have reports that the spring is fed from the west, and it makes some sense if the flow goes right out the tunnels. I need to know what cave divers use as dye to trace water movement. I think we can answer the direction of flow by simply placing dye in the tunnels, and watch movement over a few hours. Thank you!
    https://youtu.be/GfIZQjNYDGs

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    RBW Member RZEP17 will become famous soon enough RZEP17 will become famous soon enough RZEP17 will become famous soon enough RZEP17 will become famous soon enough RZEP17's Avatar
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    Re: What do cave divers use as dye to trace water movement?

    Hi Don
    There is some non toxic dyes that you can buy in the pool supply stores Kingscote, Ecoclean. I am pretty sure you can get those through Amazon. They are little bit on expensive side. In some of my underwater projects, we use the dye for a chalk line, as well as, crystalic Potassium permanganate, to detect leaks in the forms, before pumping 300$/cu.ft epoxy. But I am not sure about environment impact of this methods.
    rgrds
    Tomek

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    Blinded with science... deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc's Avatar
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    Re: What do cave divers use as dye to trace water movement?

    Yikes Potassium Permanganate?? Be careful... that stuff is an extremely strong oxidizing agent. It does indeed have a very intense purple color in solution, though. It isn't extremely dangerous as a solution (unless extremely concentrated), but in solid form it can actually start fires when it comes in contact with easily oxidized organic matter (e.g. sugar or other simple organic compounds). Your skin is such a substance - keep that in mind.

    People who trace water masses for a living often use fluorescent dyes as tracers. Something like fluorescein is a good choice (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescein). In addition to being readily observed with the naked eye, it can be detected with great sensitivity using a fairly simple and inexpensive fluorometer, which is important if there are concerns about tracer dilution during the water mass transport.

    I'm curious about the source of sulfur in the water you are dealing with. Often elemental sulfur will precipitate when anoxic groundwater from a coastal region intrudes into an oxic aquifer. What's happening is that soluble hydrogen sulfide is being oxidized to elemental sulfur. If there is enough to actually SEE the precipitate (as you say - a white cloud), then that indicates a source water with extremely high sulfide levels. Usually this is either seawater (which has high sulfate levels that can be reduced to form sulfides) or freshwater that has been in contact with minerals like pyrite or amorphous metal sulfides. The "layer" of white precipitate cloud is consistent with stratification of the water in the tunnel system, with oxic water above and anoxic water below. Very interesting stuff.

    One side note: I'd be careful spending too much time in water with evidence of sulfur precipitation (especially the water BELOW the cloud). That indicates a low oxygen, high sulfide environment. Hydrogen sulfide is extremely toxic and I've heard reports of H2S poisoning through dermal absorption. In fact, you'd probably realize pretty quickly that something was wrong, as diffusion of hydrogen sulfide through your skin and into your bloodstream may actually cause you to smell rotten eggs! Also, H2S is pretty corrosive and can actually eat away at metal parts (e.g. regulators, etc).

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    RBW Member RZEP17 will become famous soon enough RZEP17 will become famous soon enough RZEP17 will become famous soon enough RZEP17 will become famous soon enough RZEP17's Avatar
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    Re: What do cave divers use as dye to trace water movement?

    Quote Originally Posted by deepwrecksc  View Original Post
    Yikes Potassium Permanganate?? Be careful... that stuff is an extremely strong oxidizing agent. It does indeed have a very intense purple color in solution, though. It isn't extremely dangerous as a solution (unless extremely concentrated), but in solid form it can actually start fires when it comes in contact with easily oxidized organic matter (e.g. sugar or other simple organic compounds). Your skin is such a substance - keep that in mind.
    I think you overreacting a bit. Yes, it is strong oxidizer and mixed with glycerol spontaneously start the fire, but on the other hand solution of PP was(is) used to wash newborn babies, disinfect wounds and clean skin.
    Sugar and PP??? Starting kitchen pyrotechnics class???

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    Blinded with science... deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc has a spectacular aura about deepwrecksc's Avatar
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    Re: What do cave divers use as dye to trace water movement?

    Quote Originally Posted by RZEP17  View Original Post
    I think you overreacting a bit. Yes, it is strong oxidizer and mixed with glycerol spontaneously start the fire, but on the other hand solution of PP was(is) used to wash newborn babies, disinfect wounds and clean skin.
    Sugar and PP??? Starting kitchen pyrotechnics class???
    As with most such things "the dose makes the poison". DILUTE permanganate solutions are ok as disinfectants (although it definitely wouldn't be my first choice). As a chemist I deal with it as a solid, and it is something to take rather seriously in that form. Do as you wish, but in this case there are many better tracers to choose from.

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    RBW Member Dan Wright has a spectacular aura about Dan Wright has a spectacular aura about Dan Wright has a spectacular aura about Dan Wright has a spectacular aura about Dan Wright has a spectacular aura about Dan Wright's Avatar
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    Re: What do cave divers use as dye to trace water movement?

    Wow! thanks for the insight. This mine never stops producing interesting and somewhat challenging finds!

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