Tales from the Catacombs

40 Years Ago

Gypsum speleothems in Agen Allwedd:

After discussing the subject with a number of people, however, what appeared to me to be a not unreasonable hypothesis was formed. This is that the selenite in fact crystallizes out within the mud to form a long needle-like (or whatever) structure. After this crystallization has taken place the mud shrinks, thus leaving the formations sticking up like stalagmites. One factor that reinforces this hypothesis is that formations arte found in conjunction with cracked mud - surely the cracks and the concave surfaces of the mud are due to shrinkage. If the above is accepted then the height of the formations is a measure of the minimum amount by which the mud must have shrunk in that locality. In Agen Allwedd some of the needles stand more than nine inches high.

- Pelobates 13, April 1971

30 Years Ago

To Dam or Not To Be Dammed?

That is a question taht often needs to be asked when going down Little Neath River Cave. Over the last few years the size of the boulder dam around the entrance to Little Neath has grown from a slight ridge to a marathon range, at times three and a half feet high and, in spite of being removed by myself and others, it reappears almost immediately afterwards......In my view, the construction of a dam is highly irresponsible, as the dam could easily break down, sweeping boulders into the passage, or be overtopped, trapping cavers inside the system under conditions when there would be little scope to build a high enough rescue dam to get them out.

- Pelobates 40, February 1981

20 Years Ago

1991 has been a moderately quiet year as far as Croydon Caving Club has been concerned. There have been no new caves found by club members and no significant extensions in any other projects with which the club is involved. however the club has not remained inactive. The cottage now legally belongs to the club and boasts a shiny new roof (or at least half of one!). Membership, although not dramatically increased, now covers a wide geographic area including all of the UK and abroad.

- Pelobates 56, November 1991

10 Years Ago

The Sunday Times recently claimed that: “Russians recently spent five days observing SAS teams running cave clearance exercises in the Brecon Beacons. Each operation involves up to 50 soldiers divided into snatch squads of four men each.”

- Pelobates 81, December 2001