July 20, 2008

[more photos will be posted soon]

On Sunday, July 20, 2008, seven members of the Goodenough Springs Exploration Project (GSEP) completed a successful exploration of this high-flow cave system to a depth of 515 feet (lake level @ 1098 ft). This unique site lies near the US/Mexico border northwest of Del Rio, Texas.

Team members worked together to drag multiple dive cylinders through the cave’s sidemount restriction at 190 feet of depth before sending divers even deeper.[photo by Larry Hack]

Participants in this historic event included: Rick Aurich, Ryan Despain, Jay Dryden, Ryan Eastman, Larry Hack, Chuck Noe, and Gregg Tatum.

On Saturday Aurich, Despain, Hack, and Tatum performed deep setup dives while Dryden, Eastman, and Noe provided support. On Sunday morning additional setup dives were required before the deep push-dive could begin.

After the setups were completed, Eastman accompanied Noe beyond the restriction before sending him on to continue as a solo diver.  Chuck continued from the previously explored depth of 394 feet down a steep, deeply eroded passage to a pea-gravel floor nearly 500 feet down. At that point the cave turned sharply underneath itself and headed off into the distance at a shallower slope. Team members believe the ultimate depths reach significantly deeper based on the area’s geology.

[photo by Larry Hack]The cave’s dimensions at the maximum attained depth were approximately 20 feet wide by 10 feet tall. Even in such a large tunnel the flow was strong enough to push a non-swimming diver backwards through the passage requiring Chuck to cling to the floor while deploying his permanent guideline. A lead-weight stamped with the team’s acronym (GSEP) and year was used to hold the line in place.

This latest exploration now establishes Goodenough Springs cave system as the 3rd deepest of all caves (including dry caves) in the state of Texas surpassing the famed “Devil’s Sinkhole” in Edwards County. The total length of linear penetration now stands at some 583 feet.

Even more remarkable, it is believed that Goodenough is now the deepest explored underwater passage in all of the United States though no official database for such records exists.

The lead diver required 12 gas cylinders on the one dive with an additional 27 tanks being used by setup and support divers. The single deep dive lasted just over 6 ½ hours including nearly 6 hours of decompression.[photo by Larry Hack]

A comprehensive report of the project’s nine-year progression is planned for release to both the National Speleological Society – Cave Diving Section and the National Association of Cave Divers for publication in the coming months.

Thanks go out to all of the “Goodenoughers” and the many people who have contributed to the project over these past 9 years.