2010/05/13

Trash Compactor Cave entrance, Cookeville, TN



During our sinkhole tour the night of 5/01/10 Jason Collard and I stopped at Warehouse sink. I expected to see the sinkhole filled with pooled up water the same as the last two sinkholes shown. However, this is what I saw instead.
The water is rushing directly into the swallet of the sinkhole, and (based on my prior knowledge of the this streams morphology) I could see that the stream had downcut considerably.

Three days later, after the flood waters had subsided, Jason Collard, Lee Pearson and I accessed Trash Compactor cave via this entrance.

This entrance is likely only accessible intermittently. Stream cross-sections of the creek, collected by Dr. Evan Hart of TTU, shows the sink collecting silt and backing up, alternating with times of deep down-cutting within the silt.

A few hypothesis could explain the cycle. It could be that a cave collapse unplugs the cave to accept more water and downcuts the silt making it the cave accessible. An alternative explanation could be that the stage of water in the sinkhole provides the necessary pressure to force water through a choke or to break the choke and then continues to downcut the silt.

In 2004 a dye trace by Dr. Peter Li and Dr. Hugh Mills of TTU connected Warehouse sink to Capshaw Cave. See TDEC karst study of the Cookeville area, Putnam Co., TN.
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