November 14, 2003
2003 Exploration in the Woodville Karst Plain
Back on the beach at Wakulla Springs,
WKPP divers ready gear before the
November 22 stage and safety drop
For the past year, the Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP) has been assisting the Florida Department of Environmental Protection with several high profile projects to monitor the cave system at a level of detail never before thought possible. The primary objective of these efforts involves protecting the spring from further pollution as development in the surrounding areas inches closer. While the WKPP has assisted in the past with various water sampling and biology-related efforts, this metering project will truly expose the multi-dimensional capabilities of the team.
WKPP divers, working alongside the State of Florida, Hazlett-Kincaid, FSU, and Florida Geological Survey, successfully deployed a prototype cave radio location transmitter within the main passage of the Wakulla Springs cave system. The transmitter, built by Halcyon DIR Dive Systems, allowed a surface team to pinpoint the drilling position of a 4” monitoring well at the B/C junction. At 4:30 pm on November 14, 2003, the drill team punched through the cave ceiling at a depth of approximately 280 feet/85 m.
The transmitter and receiver will be used to place several additional well locations in the coming year. Once prepped, these wells will be used by researchers and scientists to dynamically monitor individual conduit and total cave activity to determine a range of parameters, including nitrate origin, conductivity and dissolved oxygen levels, and to capture flow measurements. Real-time flow measurement devices have been installed by WKPP divers; this process will, for the first time, allow researchers data collection from remote locations regardless of cave conditions. This development is of vital importance to the Park’s researchers and resource managers, and marks another milestone for the WKPP.
The Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP) returned to Wakulla Springs over the first weekend of November 2003 to recommence survey and and scientific study of the area’s massive cave system. Conditions in the Wakulla Springs basin and cave system continue to improve. Basin visibility now exceeds 50ft (15 m) and visibility in the main conduit out to D-Tunnel estimated at 30+ ft (9+ m). The schedule on Saturday, 15 November, was light with only one Rebreather team handling the cave work and a small but capable support team overseeing work in the basin. The WKPP continued its support of the Florida Geologic Survey’s Wakulla Springs metering project by deploying a cave radio transmitter at A/D cave junction (approximately 2000 feet/610 m into the cave at a depth of 290 feet/88 m), deploying and configuring the flow meters in both B-Tunnel and C-Tunnel, all the while video taping both objectives. In short, the objectives were accomplished; the team has new video documentation and techniques to support the deployment of cave flow metering stations.
Utilizing their Halcyon RB80 Rebreathers, RB Team 1 (Jarrod Jablonski, Terry Koritz, and Casey McKinlay) deployed and activated the cave radio transmitter at the A/D tunnel junction; the team was able to deploy the locator and return to the B and C meter deployment locations within 20 minutes. Terry and Casey returned to the equipment drop point to pick up the B-Tunnel flow meter, and then found a perfect spot to position it, approximately 100 feet into the passage. The team located a position clear of the passage’s fossil beds, removed the transport hardware, and then set the meter on the floor in the appropriate direction. Terry took note of the meter depth and azimuth while Casey collected six bacteria samples from the area around the meter. Jarrod taped the process as a means toward providing researchers with a better sense of location and regional setting. Once the B-Tunnel flow meter was deployed, the team set up the C-Tunnel meter and gathered additional bacteria samples. C-Tunnel proved slightly more challenging, given the soft clay floor and flow meter’s heavy concrete-filled legs.
With the meters now in place, the team set out to suspend a 5x5ft photo scale from the newly-drilled well above the flow meter in the B/C-Tunnel junction. In order to capture accurate flow velocity, the conduit dimensions around the meter need to be programmed into the metering software. The scale will allow for more accurate measurements from the video camera. The team returned to the well point at B/C junction, but discovered the cabling was not there