2010/05/23

Sump in Trash Compactor Cave, Cookeville, TN



This was the end of the main trunk of Trash Compactor Cave and the room for which it is named (Trash Compactor scene: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope).

All the debris you see here is floating on water. Notice as we move, how the whole mass ripples. It is through this sump that we suspect a connection to Capshaw. Lee Pearson and Jason Collard later went to the closest spot in Capshaw to see if there was any match to debris types and he found plenty of styrofoam. It's a primitive, but possible effective dye-trace.

This cave was accessed after the May 2010 floods when a swallet finally enlarged enough to allow for human visitation.

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.