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A New River: So What?

August 09, 2013

by: Tim McClain

We recently found a new river in Binkley Cave. So what, you might say? Aren’t you finding new rivers all the time? Well, let me define new river. Many of the passages we find contain rivers, but the underground network of drainage often follows a pattern, with those rivers draining into the passages we have already explored, often from the downstream end first. This latest river seems to be draining into a direction that doesn’t appear will come back into passages we have already explored.

We have not found many infeeding streams (rivers) on the west or south side of the entire Blowing Hole section of cave, which extends from Indian Creek on the north to Miller Cave along IN135 not far northwest of Mathis Quarry. The ones we have found are (for the most part) tiny and dismal looking. Most of us believe there should be more cave passages draining the entire sinkhole plain to the west and south of known Blowing Hole passages. After connecting Miller Cave to the Binkley system, we started working on several side passages which were made much more easily accessible through the Miller entrance. One of the passages was on the south side of the cave, and started as hands and knees crawling in a very small stream. During our very first entry into the passage as we began surveying (taking measurements), we noticed very prominent air movement coming toward us, and got very excited! When air movement is detectable in a passage, it is a good sign it could lead to much more passage.

After our first survey trip into the passage, some of us started to wonder if it could be an overflow passage to a parallel river. On the second survey trip we found it was in fact an overflow route which intersected a new river!! As it stands now, the passage has netted us nearly a half mile of new passages, with more awaiting and the air keeps calling us back. There seems to be much potential; there are three different passages (two going upstream and one going downstream) from where we intersected the new river, and the larger upstream passage could head toward the outlier hills, where we believe there could be major upper level trunk passages waiting to be found. The amount of water flowing in the downstream direction seems to be more than we can account for at any location we’ve seen water coming in on that side of the Blowing Hole section. It is possible the water resurfaces at Bruner Spring, located downstream from the Sinks of Indian Creek. If so, that’s about 14,000 feet in a straight line distance, which could mean a lot of unexplored cave passage, although there could be many obstacles between the two locations which could create difficulty in exploring.

Binkley Cave continues to amaze us, allowing us to keep expanding its boundaries further and further, while fueling further speculation about where it will go. It keeps us excited and motivated to find out. Regardless how far this new river system goes in any direction, this new discovery could be very huge, allowing us to solve more mysteries, while likely continuing to create more as we do.

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