Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 31 Aug 2018


Expedition details (GPF2018b-003)

Expedition Name (& Club): Junee-Florentine 2018 (YCC, RRCPC)
Destination country: Australia
Region: Tasmania
Lat: -42.7072 Long: 146.4791 Elevation: 524 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Dr. Fleur Loveridge
Total cavers: 16
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 1
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 8
UK/nonUK cavers: 6/10
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 0
Expedition dates: 15th Dec 2018 - 6th Jan 2019
Duration (days): 23
Man-days in field: 288 Man-days travelling: 70
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

The Junee-Florentine (JF) area of karst in Tasmania is home to the deepest caves in Australia at around 375m. The caves are alpine in nature, cold in temperature and carrying water. That water resurges in Junnee Cave, but most of the route taken is unknown. The Junee River Master Cave is only known in small unconnected sections.

The main objective of the expedition is original cave exploration in the JF area. This will feed into the larger vision of discovery and documentation of the remaining sections of the Junee River Master Cave. Surface work, pursuit of known underground leads and support to local diving teams will be employed to meet the objective.

The secondary objective of the expedition is to foster UK-Irish and UK-Australian partnerships for the benefit of this and future expeditions.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

Please explain the aspects of the trip which make it eligible for Ghar Parau funding.

The Junee-Florentine karst area has been known for some time, yet limited local caver resources mean there is still significant potential for further exploration. This expedition is an Anglo-Irish joint venture in collaboration with local Tasmanian cavers. Of 16 members, 6 are UK citizens and 3 UK residents with UK club membership.
The overall expedition lead is Seamus Breathnach and the UK lead is Fleur Loveridge. Both have previously experience in exploration caving in the JF.
Travel to Tasmania is relatively expensive, especially in December-January which is beneficial in terms of climate and members’ time. Consequently some financial assistance will personally aid involvement of the UK expedition members. Additionally, the expedition will foster UK-Irish and UK-Australian partnerships, which will have future benefit to projects being pursued in e.g. Timor-Leste (UK lead), West Papua (UK lead) and PNG (Irish lead, UK participation).
Detailed description of objectives:

Give a more detailed account of the purpose of the trip, including any particular known caves you intend to visit, specific areas where you will explore for new cave, and scientific experiments you will attempt.

The primary aim of the expedition is original exploration. Despite the Junee-Florentine being relatively close to the population centre in Hobart, there remains excellent potential for future cave exploration in the area. This is because the numbers of cavers living in the area, and the island of Tasmania as a whole, is relatively small. Consequently, while regular progress has been made in exploring the caves of the JF, much work remains to be done.

In particular, this expedition will fed into the larger vision to piece together the missing sections of the Junee River Master cave (see previous work and attached maps). This will be done by a programme of exploration in three areas:

i. Surface prospecting.
Despite having a presence of cavers in the region for decades, the rainforest can conceal cave entrances even beside known forest tracks. The team aim to complete systematic searches of known karst areas adjacent to limestone boundaries for new cave entrances. This will focus on areas identified by local cavers as receiving less attention to date. Most of the known caves have a numbering system, with a small metal plate attached to the rock above documented cave entrances. This will help the team avoid wasting time rediscovering previously documented cave. Geological and Karst data show in a good level of detail the limestone boundaries. However GPS signal is not fully reliable under the rainforest canopy, and the team will utilise local knowledge and known landmarks from Topo maps to complement any available GPS data to traverse the limestone boundaries.

ii. Known underground leads.
Limited resources of local cavers mean that many known leads remain unconsidered in current exploration. These leads range from identified surface sites that have not been descended, near open passages block by debris that would benefit from techniques like capping and more substantial digging projects in promising locations.

iii. Supporting ongoing diving projects.
Local Tasmanian cavers include several world leading cave divers who have been pursuing underwater connections within known caves to the Junee River Master Cave with some initial success. The presence of additional manpower in the region will allow support for this project.

The secondary aim of the expiation is to foster greater links and long lasting relationships between UK, Irish and Australian cavers. These links will be of future benefit to exploration projects in the Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as well as overseas projects of joint interest. This includes recent Irish lead work in PNG, recent British led expeditions to Timor-Leste and West Papua.
Previous work in this area:

Give details of any previous work in this area by your own and other teams. Include references to reports and articles published on the area, and the names of any local cavers or academics with whom you have discussed the Expedition.

The accompanying maps show the caving area and the main cave developments linked to the June River Master Cave. Junee Cave (the resurgence) is shown in yellow at the south east corner. Over twelve kilometres away in the north west of the area, where “Burning Down the House” cave is the current further known inflow into the system. Recent focuses of exploration include Ring Hole (in the centre of the area) and Procupine Pot (a diving project in the north west). Sinks are up to 10km offset from the known sections of the master cave. Dye tracing results suggest that a major portion of the karst conduit system remains to be discovered. As such there is clear potential for exploration of caves which may be tens of kilometres in length.

Vadose morphologies dominate cave formation in the Junee River catchment. Steeply descending canyon passages are common, and deep vertical shafts are frequent. The shafts include examples up to 191m in length.
The total vertical height of potential cave development in the vadose zone approaches 500m. Vertical development gives way to more modest gradients at depth within the limestone block as cave profiles are influenced by a regional water table, and are essentially horizontal in form. Important controls on cave development include bedding, with preferential erosion of the relatively pure Cashions Creek Limestone a common occurrence.

Net down-dip development has resulted in some steeply inclined cave profiles which are controlled by the angle of bedding in the host rock, while bedding control is also evident in the orientation of many cave passages along the strike. Joints are a further important influence, and many deep shaft systems probably result from solution along joint intersections. Large collapse chambers are common.

As well as the sources listed below, expedition members will take advantage of the good relations with the local JF cavers, mostly based in Hobart. These local cavers have agreed to collaborate in sharing local knowledge, maps, coordinates etc. in return for shared information on any expedition findings to progress the potential of the region. It is also expected that several local cavers will join the expedition at various times, as well as expedition members assisting with local projects, especially portering for diving. Overall, the expedition is to be welcomed by local cavers to assist in unlocking more cave passage in the area.

Key local contacts:

Alan Jackson: an environmental consultant based in Hobart. He joined the Southern Tasmanian Caverneers in 2001 and has been an active member ever since, pushing the exploration and documentation of Tasmania’s caves. He has also joined international speleological expeditions to NZ, China and Vietnam. His primary caving focus for over ten years has been the discovery of ‘missing’ sections of ‘master cave’ in Tasmania’s largest karst drainage system in the JF.

Andreas Klocker: originally from Austria, currently an oceanographer in Hobart. In Australia his main focus has been on cave exploration in the JF, especially its remote sumps. As an expert cave diver he has also led challenging diving expeditions Sistema Huautla, Mexico.

Geological sources:
Crobett & Banks (1974) Ordovician Stratigraphy of the Florentine Synclinorium, southwest Tasmania, Pap Prop Roy Soc Tasmania, 107: 207-238.
Eberhard (1994) Inventory and management of the Junee River karst system, Tasmania : a report to Forestry Tasmania.

Speleological Sources:
Hume et al (1992) Tasmanian Caverneering Club, Tasmanian Cave Exploration in the 1980’s
Southern Caver (An occasional journal of the Southern Tasmanian Caverneers), especialy October 2014 which catalogues exploration to 1980.
Speleo Spiel (Official journal of the Southern Tasmanian Caverneers), see https://southerntasmaniancaverneers.wordpress.com/spiel/

Expedition Finances

Travel

Travel plans:
International air travel to Melbourne (where appropriate) then local flight to Hobart.
Hire cars will be used in Tasmania.


# from UK: 6 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £10,140 £1170 international flights
£135 domestic flights
£385 hire cars, petrol and other local travel

# from outside UK: 10 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £13,020 From Europe - as above
From New Zealand, as above except international flights at £400.
From Australia, as above except no international flights.

Travel total: £23,160 Travel p.p. from UK: £1,690
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £1,302

Subsistence

Total: £7,920 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £495 £495 accommodation and subsistence

Gear

Total: £720 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £45 £45 per person communal gear contribution
Exped Total: £31,800 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £2,230
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £1,842
Mean Exped cost per person: £1,987

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Funding is being sought from the SUI for eligible members.
Total shortfall: £31,800 Mean shortfall per person: £1,987

Referees and Report

Please give the names, addresses and phone numbers of two suitably qualified people whom the Committee can contact. You should ensure that they are aware of the objectives of your trip, and that you have their permission for the Committee to contact them.

Referee 1: Ms. Imogen Furlong
Affiliation: GSG

Reason: She knows some of the team very well and is acquainted with the JF caving region.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Mr. Tony Seddon
Affiliation: NPC

Reason: He knows the majority of the team very well from activities in Ireland and caving in the Picos de Europa.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Fleur Loveridge