Jamaican Caves

News - Reports - Updates

This page contains brief reports of important new explorations with links (where available) to the original published accounts.


• Smokey Hole Cave (April 13th 2006) - Deepest known in Jamaica!

Smokey Hole was descended, explored, and as of Apr 13/06, compilation of the survey data has determined the cave to be 194 metres (650 ft) deep (replacing our intitial field-estimate of 157 metres). This establishes Smokey Hole Cave as the deepest currently known cave on the island, followed by Morgans Pond Hole at 186m, and Thatchfield Great Cave at 177m. The first 57 metres, vertical, of this is through a large descending passage, floored by massive breakdown boulders, that extends for over 100 metres until the pit is reached. The pit is 134 metres (450 ft) to the bottom of the main shaft, but at least one intersecting parallel shaft was seen and not explored. Large colonies of mixed species of bats are associated with the pit, but during the ascent (after sunset) the emergence was observed to be concentrated in an area believed to connect to one of the suspected parallel shafts (apx 50m below the anchor point of the pit), suggesting appreciable development and possible extension to below our current farpoint (this might be wishful thinking).

Report from Jamaica Caves Organization


Note: Disturbingly, the JCO now reports that bauxite mining activities in this area of Manchester high level karst have now led to the permanent blockage of numerous caves and sinkholes. Beyond the immediate damage to the natural environment of the region, such activities can be predicted to cause future problems with the ponding of water and local flooding.

See: http://www.jamaicancaves.org/cockpit-country-bauxite-mining.htm

• Important new discovery in St. Clair Cave - March 21-22nd 2006

A deep, active river passage was discovered at St Clair Cave, beyond Inferno Plus, named by us (van Rentergem and Stewart) as the Acheron River. Dr Alan Fincham has suggested that it is a downstream section of the Worthy Park/Riverhead system. We intend to pursue this next expedition. (Notes and photos for the Mar 21-22 visit are now online via the above link.) The passage that carries the new river was found to have high levels of hydrogen sulfide, and low levels of oxygen, rendering further exploration impossible until suitable breathing equipment is obtained. We advise any who read this to stay out of the new passage, for it will very possibly kill you if you enter it unprepared.

Report from Jamaica Caves Organization


• Me-No-Sen Cave (January 20, 2005) - effects of Hurrican Ivan

We found and surveyed the section that takes water at the end of a currently dry, bouldered riverbed. The narrow passage that gives access to the rest of the cave is, at the moment, under apx 8 m of bamboo debris rafted in by Ivan. The entire downstream section of that entrance chamber is a real mess. We had a dicey time of it getting over it to get to the roost in the furthest part of that section... it was half-rotten bamboo in a pile as wide as the chamber covering at least 35 m length, and up to 8 m deep with patches of large breakdown boulders under it. I was concerned that we'd have someone go through and bounce down into voids. In the final chamber where the roof is higher, the "roost", it is also loaded with bamboo and has smaller debris hanging from the roof, but we could see bamboo-choked passages. We ran out of time to find the other way in, and would have been trying it in the dark, which would have been futile. We'll make a return visit in late Feb when the bamboo might have rotted down more... it's going to eventually need a good flushing, but not at extreme levels, to clean things out

Email report from Jamaica Caves Organization.


• St. Clair Cave (January 17, 2005) - the cave continues

We spent two full days in St. Clair Cave. I pushed through the choke at the end of Inferno Passage and explored another ~ 100 m of low, pool-filled passage, turning back at another boulder consriction (I was on my own). Guy van Rentergem went back in the next day after completing the Inferno Passage survey, and added another ~ 70m, and says the passage continues.

Email report from Don McFarlane, Los Angeles

• Minocals Glory Hole (January 15th, 2005) Report of further exploration of this deep Cockpit Country pit by members of the Jamaica Caves Organization.

Minocal's Glory Hole is situated north of Quick Step, Trelawny, and is one of the deepest, known, not fully descended shafts on the island. It had been on the JCO to-do list for many years and had been visited briefly by our crew on Aug 23, 2003, to locate and GPS mark the entrance. On January 15, 2005, a year and a half later, our intention was to get as far down into this pit as possible and perhaps find the bottom. By the end of the visit, we had indeed reached further than the only other attempt on Minocal's, by the NSS in 1985, but we had yet to complete the exploration of this intriguing sinkhole - we had only raised more questions.


• Volcano Hole (January 28th. 2005) Report of further explorations.

A return visit was made to Volcano Hole, in St Ann, on Jan 13, 2005, by members of the JCO, toengage in exploration and survey work. During the course of this, a route through breakdown boulderswas found, and surveyed, into the Cave River. Exploration of the river passage remains incomplete atthis time, but a third visit by the JCO, to try to push things further, is planned for the future.

Preliminary calculations indicate a total vertical of 140 metres from the top of the entrance pit tothe river, but this may change somewhat as things are firmed-up. A full account of the visit can be read at: