By - Devin Kouts
It could be a wrap for the Akwa dig. We were very lucky this weekend to
a nexus of two critical components on hand and available to work. The
was Rick Orbin's hammer drill, which allowed us to set rebar into the
bedrock. The second was Barry Horner's masonry experience, which we put
use on the cofferdam.
Chuck Wilkinson works inside the cofferdam at Akwa Cave
On Friday evening, Rick Orbin, Chuck Wilkerson and I hauled about 200
gallons of clay in five gallon buckets and dumped them in front of the
coffer dam. This succeeded in filling the leak that was allowing the
water to escape underneath the cofferdam's concrete foundation. We
everything tightly in to place and were pleased to see the water had
noticeably by the next morning.
On Saturday we started early and by lunchtime Barry had set every
block available and used all of our cement in doing so. Hats off to
he does very clean work. The landowner even said so. If the water rises
meet the new top of the cofferdam, we'll have succeeded in deepening
pond by two feet or so. At present, the pond is about 8 inches deeper
when we started.
A new challenge was realized however when the water levels rose to a
point. Just as Tom Barton had suggested some weeks ago, the pond has
to leak in a new location. We haven't located the leak precisely but
narrow it down to an area obscured with grass.
We hope that the leak
seal itself with silt in the next few days, but failing that we'll
second clay patch and hope for the same success as before.
Clay in front of the cofferdam effectively stopped leaking water.
Finally we were prepared to push the cave and see where it would take
With some effort we were able to push in to the top of a dome. Leaning
over the drop we could see a floor some distance below, and the sound
falling water was quite audible. This sound would turn out to be the
leak from the pond above, coming in via another route.
We rigged a rope to the haul point on my truck's frame. It then snaked
way into the entrance and to the top of the drop. At that point we
redirect using rebar from our construction project. This worked nicely
helped hold the rope out of the narrowest part of the drop.
I was given the honors and suited up to do the drop. While the pit is
narrow at the top and could be chimneyed, it bells out farther down and
required a descender to get safely to the bottom. I jumped on rope and
slowly crept to the bottom, taking it all in as I went.
Barry Horner made short work of the cinder block part of the construction.
Once on the floor I asked Rick to lower one end of my survey tape and
measured the drop. From the redirect point to the floor of the pit was
feet. This would prove to be the longest distance in the cave.
The pit's floor plan is ellipsoid. A narrow lead at one end of the
heads back toward the entrance and moves intermittent air. This is
just air from the entrance above. A lead at the other end of the
narrows down to a two-inch crack that bends out of sight. The sound of
falling water (from the pond above) issues from that crevice. There was
discernable air movement in this lead.
View looking up from the floor of the Pit in Akwa Cave. Rick Orbin is visible
at the top.
A final lead exists at floor level where the rope drops from the rig
above. A small drain takes the water that comes in the entrance and
it down dip and away. It's a very small lead that didn't seem to have
real airflow or much potential.
Ever the surveyor I conducted a one man mapping session as I climbed
rope and returned to the entrance. We cleaned up our mess and
material needed to raise the cofferdam to its desired height. If the
stops leaking, we will raise the dam a little higher. But either way,
looks as if Akwa is a done deal.
The downstream drain at the bottom of the drop in Akwa Cave