08 August 2008

Wild cave chase in Canyon Catarpe and Caverna Luna Media

Originally Drafted 05 August 2008

A sheep herder and his flock near Rio San Pedro. This is one of the many rural and beautiful views we have the priviledge of observing in northern Chile. Credit: Tim Titus.

The morning started off that we would recon a canyon known to contain caves and to look for Zorro Andeno. Because we were still a few caves shy of our target and the mapping team was still dealing with dust ingestion issues, I decided to use the entire team for cave recon.

Pete standing on a high vista scouting for caves. Credit: Tim Titus.

As we were preparing to depart, our friend Dick arrived at our house. He indicated that he knew a region containing a large cave. So, we modified our plans and we went looking for this cave. We hiked throughout this canyon and we scoured some of the nearby drainages looking for this cave. Unfortunately, we did not find anything. We were all rather disappointed at this because we spend the entire morning and a considerable portion of early afternoon on a wild cave chase.

Dick peering into a deep pit in the Atacama.

Once we were done here, we went to another canyon to look for caves. We had information from Hernan as well as others there was a cave located within this canyon. We did find a cave within this canyon. We were very pleased that we were successful here. We named this cave Caverna Luna Media (Half Moon Cave). We later learned the actual name of this cave, but to protect this cave and our work, we are using a synonym.

Our plan was to deploy sensors within this cave. Dick, Knutt and I conducted this exploration and our plan was deployed sensors within this cave. As we were exploring this feature, we determined this cave was immense. We managed to deploy sensors within the first 300m of the cave, but the cave continued to go. We plan to send in an exploration team before the expedition to find the other entrance(s) to this feature.

The "ram horn" salt formations within Caverna Luna Media.

While we were exploring Caverna Luna Media, Christina remained at the entrance in case of an emergency, while Dan, John, Lynn and Pete went further up canyon looking for additional caves. They did not find any additional caves. However, we did find one and we deployed sensors within, so we did have a productive day.

The salt landscape of the Atacama.

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