Cave diving rescue in France

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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby apitkin » Oct 7, 2010 11:55 am

Chads93GT wrote: Are rock slides/collapses in cave diving a frequent occurance or is this a fluke chance, much like a breakdown collapse in a regular cave?


It's rare, but it happens, especially as a result of attempting to squeeze through an unstable restriction. It may be collapse of the passage itself, but more commonly a slope of other material such as sand or gravel forms part of the restriction and when part of this is disturbed it slides down to block the restriction. The most famous case was in 1991 (IIRC) in Indian Springs in Florida when Parker Turner drowned. In a few cases water flow through the restriction supports the unstable slope so that when the flow is blocked by a diver going through the restriction the sand/gravel/rockpile slides down on top of him. Not pleasant, especially when exiting.

The presence of his scooter at the restriction sounds like positive news, assuming he left it there as a signal and did not deliberately aim to leave it there as part of his dive plan.

Andy
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby Harald Franzen » Oct 7, 2010 11:57 am

Yvonne Droms wrote:On the surface, the unstable sides of the big hole were stabilized, a winch was set up to remove rubble from the dig, and a team of French cave rescuers are hard at work digging downwards in the fissure, hoping to find a pit that will allow them to connect with Dragonniere.


I saw some video footage earlier; an interview with the mayor of the village who explained that on the site of the digging there used to be an apple tree and they would spot apples being washed out at the resurgence: hence the relative certainty they would be able to reach the cave by removing sand and rubble to unclose the fissure that must be there.

Cheers,


Harald
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby wyandottecaver » Oct 7, 2010 12:01 pm

I hope hes hangin out with some hot mermaids :)
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby Harald Franzen » Oct 7, 2010 12:21 pm

apitkin wrote:
Chads93GT wrote: Are rock slides/collapses in cave diving a frequent occurance or is this a fluke chance, much like a breakdown collapse in a regular cave?


It's rare, but it happens, especially as a result of attempting to squeeze through an unstable restriction. It may be collapse of the passage itself, but more commonly a slope of other material such as sand or gravel forms part of the restriction and when part of this is disturbed it slides down to block the restriction. The most famous case was in 1991 (IIRC) in Indian Springs in Florida when Parker Turner drowned. In a few cases water flow through the restriction supports the unstable slope so that when the flow is blocked by a diver going through the restriction the sand/gravel/rockpile slides down on top of him. Not pleasant, especially when exiting.

The presence of his scooter at the restriction sounds like positive news, assuming he left it there as a signal and did not deliberately aim to leave it there as part of his dive plan.

Andy


As a matter of fact I can show you some examples of ceiling collapses here in France: it's the bubbles from OC-divers that cause the instability and make the ceiling collapse...

In this case -concurrent with what you are describing- it seems that the issue wasn't the collapse of a cave ceiling, but a "landslide" were the point at 780m has been blocked by pebbles, sand and debris from the slope ahead much like the situation in Indian Springs.

Cheers,

Harald
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby paul » Oct 7, 2010 1:06 pm

Chads93GT wrote:Are rock slides/collapses in cave diving a frequent occurance or is this a fluke chance, much like a breakdown collapse in a regular cave?


Luckily it isn't a frequent occurrence. Apparently the problem is a gravel blockage. There have been examples of shifting gravel/shingle banks nearly blocking off divers before in other caves. The final sump in Wookey Hole in the UK involves sloping low passage with a gravel bed at over 200 feet deep. Continuing along the passage carries the threat of your return route being blocked behind you...

Let's hope the rescue attempt is successful.
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby yvonnedroms » Oct 7, 2010 1:07 pm

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 6:30 p.m (in France)

The two Swiss divers have come back, and they were able to accurately analyze the obstructed area of the sump.

Visibility is not good, about 5 feet at best, but only 1.5 feet when the silt is disturbed.

The passage near where the scooter was found is similar to a funnel whose edges are made of suspended clay. At the bottom of this funnel, there is a a horizontal constriction, and in itself it seems passable, but the problem is that going into this passage is too dangerous because of the conical shape, the steepness, and the instability of the funnel that precedes the constriction.

Because of this, the thought of attempting to cross this area is far too risky, and so the French Speleo Secours is evaluating several other possibilities.

For example, a robot that could be sent into the constriction in order to learn more about its length, or techniques for locating karst voids, then drilling towards them, are also under consideration.

The dig is continuing on the plateau. The diggers have now reached 16 meters in depth.

-Yvonne
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby Garr » Oct 7, 2010 2:48 pm

Harald Franzen wrote:
I saw some video footage earlier; an interview with the mayor of the village who explained that on the site of the digging there used to be an apple tree and they would spot apples being washed out at the resurgence: hence the relative certainty they would be able to reach the cave by removing sand and rubble to unclose the fissure that must be there.


Harald


If apples can pass through from this crack to the resurgence might it be possible to establish communication with this route, possibly with something like a glowstick in a bottle with pen and paper, maybe a mars bar in there too? Slim chance I know, but no harm trying.

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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby Juergen » Oct 8, 2010 1:21 am

The divers are back after having analyzed the blocked part.

Visibility is only 1.5m but reduces to 0.3m after the mud gets moving. The passage which forms the obstacle is formed like a cone whose margins are similiar to liquid clay. The squeeze is at the bottom of the cone. It seems to be possible to squeeze through, but the problem is the steepness and instability. Because of the very high risk it is not a question of the divers to try this.

Other possibilites of the rescue are currently under investigation. Also the application of a robot vehicle is considered to get more information about the length of the narrow passage. Other techniques to find hollow spaces in the rock and drilling are considered. The working on the shaft on the surface have reached a depth of 16 meters

Source: Translation from the German Caving Forum where this was posted in German as a translation from French from here:

http://www.speleo-secours-francais.com/ ... &Itemid=83
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby wyandottecaver » Oct 8, 2010 8:28 am

usually helpful to read a thread before posting in it. that way you dont repeat the exact same thing that was said 2 posts earlier....just sayin
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby yvonnedroms » Oct 8, 2010 11:00 am

Hello all

There will be no dives today, to allow for 24 hours between reconnaissance dives. The dig at the surface continues non-stop. Since Thursday morning, cavers have been frantically removing rocks from the natural fissure descending from the plateau, following the air. They have now found clean passage, which could indicate that they are now beyond the plug. The air current is stronger, and they are progressing toward a void.

Once the pit is cleared of rocks, the rescuers will start exploring and they hope to eventually find Eric who could have found refuge 200 meters below in an air pocket of the submerged cave passage.

In the flooded conduit where Eric disappeared at 780 m from the entrance, rescuers are planning to install a detection beacon that could show a more precise location of the obstruction on the map, which could allow for possible drilling operations to install suction pumps. This might allow divers to continue towards the back of the cave. Feasibility studies are underway.

-Yvonne
PS - I see a new update has just arrived on the Speleo Secours page. If there is anything new, I will post again.
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby yvonnedroms » Oct 8, 2010 11:18 am

A few more details from the latest Speleo Secours update (5 PM French time Friday):

The beacon that the diving team will bring in to the site of the collapse tomorrow morning will last for five hours. During that window of time, a surface crew will localize as precisely as possible where that point is on the surface. Together with the topographic map of the cave, this will allow to determine where the end of the known cave is (at 1040 meters from the entrance, and 42 meters deep). This will help in the search for possible voids underneath the upper 30 meters of the surface layer. These voids can then be drilled into, and might lead to connections with the Dragonniere.

In addition, an existent drill hole 190 meters deep has been located on the surface on a private property. Even though it’s not ideally placed, it is in a favorable location. Widening this shaft by drilling in order to reach a possible void or even a flooded tunnel is one of the strategies being studied at the moment.

30 rescuers from the Speleo Secours Francais are currently working on the rescue.

-Yvonne
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby yvonnedroms » Oct 8, 2010 6:47 pm

Hi all,

I am leaving to go caving for the weekend, so I will not be able to send any more updates until Sunday evening. Here's hoping with all my heart that Eric will have been reached by then and that he is safe!

P.S. Here is a link to a schematic of the Dragonniere, that shows where the collapse occurred, the theoretical air-filled passage after the known end of the cave at 1040 meters, where Eric could possibly have sought refuge, and the theoretical fissure that hopefully will connect with the Dragonniere:

http://preview.leparisien.fr/complement ... pleleo.jpg

-Yvonne
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby Harald Franzen » Oct 9, 2010 9:49 am

A short summary of the SSF (Spéléo Sécours Francais) of 14:30 local time today.
Divers are shortly going into the water and are expected back after 17:00 local time to put in a transmitter so surface teams can precisely determine the position of the blockage at 780 meters.

Top side, a team of specialistst (geologists, hydrogeologists, etc.) are working to establish where fissures are and where the dry zone in the cave might be. They assume it must end in a dry cavity as that is similar to a number of caves in the region with comparable lengths, depths and profiles; all of those end in a dry bit. It is still assumed that Eric returned there for refuge after finding out his way out of the cave was blocked at the 780 meter point.

They would assume at this time that the dry cave would be somewhere between 1300 - 1500 meters, but the cave hadn't been explored beyond 1040 meters, so nobody knows for sure.
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby Harald Franzen » Oct 9, 2010 2:35 pm

Very good news at 19:00 hours local time.

The divers that went in today found a sign of life from Eric. He has placed a twinset on the same site that they originally found his scooter.

This guy is still diving (from his hide out obviously behind the blockage) and sends us as message! He seems to be anxious for the rescue teams to get him out ;-)
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Re: Cave diving rescue in France

Postby Harald Franzen » Oct 9, 2010 3:13 pm

The Spéléo Sécours Francais website talks about a "bloc", which might also mean a single tank rather than a twinset.
However: on an even better note; I just saw footage of TF1 (French TV) where the guy in charge of the rescue operation talks about contact via tapping.
SOS and other tapping signals were exchanged by the two divers that went to the 780 meter point and Eric Etablie.
A new dive will be undertaken tonight to bring him supplies (food and gas as I understand it).

Cheers,


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