Your Name: Bruce Archambault
Trip date: 7th January 2018
Project manager: Bill Gee (presumably)
Trip purpose: Data Collection
Areas of Cave visited: CarrollPassage
Trip participants: See Bill Gee’s report
Entry Time: 0900
Exit Time: See Bill Gee’s report
The trip report: This past Saturday I found myself at the Silo Entrance to Carroll Cave located in nearby Camdenton MO. I’d heard a lot about Carroll Cave and was anxious to get inside and see it for myself so I signed up for one of the regularly scheduled data survey collection teams. Our seven-person co-ed survey team consisted of two gals and five guys and met at the silo at 9:00 that morning. No sooner had I suited up when I found myself rappelling 120’ straight down into the cave through a vertical bore hole opened in 2002 by the Carroll Cave Conservancy (CCC) http://www.carrollcave.org which lands you almost Center Mass into the vast Carroll Cave complex. Carroll Cave is one of the larger caves in Missouri with just over 20 total surveyed miles of passage and based on whom you talk to is either the 2nd or 3rd longest cave in Missouri, depending on which sets of survey data are used. The difference between number 2 and 3 is less than 200 feet with the longest cave in MO over 30 miles. As my feet touched rock I found myself deep underground in a large chamber at the intersection of 3 caves where Carroll Cave connects to Thunder River Cave. Our mission was to download data from prepositioned river data loggers which were time synchronized to measure barometric pressure from which water flow and level could be interpreted. Two data loggers are needed as the loggers do not record water depth, they record pressure that is affected by the barometric air pressure. One logger is hung in the air and the other in the water. To calculate water depth, the difference between the two pressures is determined and then multiplied by the density of water. Throughout the roughly 5 miles of cave I traversed I saw huge canyons above my head most of the way which often had amazing white flowstone, stalactites, stalagmites and column formations high up on the benches. Our path ran through, under, up and over the huge ‘breakdown’ from the ceiling and consisted of all different types of terrain to include cliff walking, sloppy mud, waist deep water and gravel bars. I saw several pure white albino fish with no eyes about the size of a decent gold fish. The team leader stated he’d never seen bats in this portion of the cave and as luck would have it I spotted a nice sized lone bat on the wall at the entrance chamber. I think he was an Indiana Bat but with 14 different species of bats in Missouri I’m just not sure. I was able to get a good look at his nose to check for white-nose syndrome which was not present and I left it alone. White-nose syndrome (WNS) is under research and classified as a possible fungal pathogen which by 2012 is attributed to the deaths of 5-7 million North American bats.
Our final team task was to install a new data logger and PVC (pipe) logger platform in the stream just below Thunder Falls. Thunder River falls is an impressive waterfall roughly 6’-7’ tall which pours into a large pool. You can access the pool over the falls and get soaking wet or you can follow the mud bank ‘goat trail’ as I did to the left of the falls that hugs the walls high above a slick vertical mud bank dropping directly into the pool. It was apparent to me someone had spent a lot of time and hard work carving out the mud trail along the base of the cliff. I was told of a fellow caver who not too long ago lost his footing with a full pack and shot off of this edge directly into the pool below. After a splash landing in the deep pool he was ok and continued on his journey.
Just before we ascended the entrance chamber dome back up to our rappelling gear two stromatolite fossils were pointed out along the trail. These stromatolite fossils were concave and circular in nature with an 18” diameter and are scientifically defined as layered, bio-chemical accretionary structures that formed in shallow prehistoric seas over 3.7 billion years ago here in Missouri. Stromatolites played an early and key role as part of earths great oxygen infusion which ultimately led to the explosion of life in our oceans. As I pondered these fossils under 120’ of solid rock I was in total awe of what I was seeing. I was told the age of the Carroll Cave rock we traversed was roughly 408 million years old.
Our total data collection trip length covered roughly 4-5 miles of cave and had some incredible scenery. We installed a new data logger and pulled data from several logger devices in all three primary cave arms to include 100 yards up one of the many smaller tributary caves which can extend for several miles.
NSS, MSS, CCC & Roubidoux and KCAG Grottos.