Ogof Draenen War of the Worlds trip 11/11/2017

Unless otherwise stated, camera and setups by Tarquin, lighting by Tarquin, Phill Thomas and Ruben Harding, edits and gallery effects by Tarquin.

This was a visit to a very familiar part of the cave, but with other, less common targets in mind. The pictures therefore do not cover many of the usual attractions such as the grand passages, and fine helictites.

  1. The Snowball, after it had been moved by persons unknown onto the top of the rock. This is not its original, natural position, but was probably moved in the mistaken belief that this was the correct position for it. It is not. The Snowball originally sat in the gap just to the left of the rock. How it formed and came to be in its natural position are puzzles that may finally have an answer; it most likely formed in a bubble of water saturated with gypsum, trapped within ice that filled the passage during an ice-age - it would then have been deposited as the ice melted.
  2. A decomposing bat on the floor behind The Snowball. Lighting by Tarquin
  3. Its foot is still attached to the wall, showing that it died while hanging from the wall, and fell only when the bones rotted through.
  4. White powder on the rocks in the Black Run. This is not just the usual gypsum drifts that can be seen in many passages in this area, it appears to be cryostal; stal that is spontaneously precipitated in similar conditions to The Snowball. The rocky breakdown is formed by freeze-thaw action, indicating that this passage was repeatedly subjected to cycles of permafrost during the various ice ages. The passages here are very old indeed.
  5. Detail of the cryostal powder.
  6. Cryostal and gypsum on the floor of the Red Room. The bobbly/fluffy mud is also formed by freeze-thaw (ice crystals repeatedly forming in the mud), and gives more clues that the calcite and gypsum are likely to be formed cryogenically. In some places, the cryostal sits on top of the gypsum, and in others, the gypsum sits on top of the cryostal within the same area, suggesting that both gypsum and calcite were formed at the same time, by the same process. This is very likely to be cryogypsum - the first recognised anywhere in the UK or Europe.
  7. Incredibly elaborate cryostal. The main piece is about 6 cm x 10 cm, the same size as a karabiner.
  8. 10 cm cryostal twiglets in Lost in Space.
  9. More apparent cryogypsum in Intergalactic Overdraught.
  10. Probable cryostal appearing like clumped gold dust in Cold Fusion Passage.
  11. Clumped into large cornflakes, perched on a rock.
  12. Close-up, they appear almost like walnut pieces.
  13. High camp treasures, some of the area's extremely fine helictites. Lighting by Tarquin
  14. Beautifully coloured minerals on rocks at the junction of War of the Worlds North and South, presumably iron ores. A few of the smaller pieces were originally on the floor the other way up, looking just like any other rocks, where cavers would walk. When turned over by chance, their beauty became apparent, so they were carefully placed out of the way next to some others and taped off, so they would not be damaged underfoot. Lighting by Reuben
  15. A short side passage at the junction has some small helictites of its own. Lighting by Tarquin and Reuben
  16. Helictites in the side passage. Lighting by Tarquin
  17. The best helictites in the side passage. Lighting by Tarquin
  18. The longest helictites in the side passage. Lighting by Reuben
  19. Reuben in Golden Handshake Rift, a side passage with a great deal of gypsum coating its walls. In some places, it takes great care to avoid touching the crystals, so this passage is rarely visited. Modelling by Reuben, lighting by Tarquin and Reuben
  20. Calcite at the end of Golden Handshake Rift. Immediately beyond this, the passage ends at a totally calcited choke. Lighting by Tarquin
  21. Cloud-shaped pieces of cryostal, sitting on the floor of War of the Worlds South. The largest piece is about 12 cm across, and is one of the largest pieces in the cave, if not the whole UK. Lighting by Tarquin
  22. Very large helictites on the wall of War of the Worlds South, the largest of which are about 25-30 cm long. Lighting by Tarquin and Reuben
  23. Dripping mud, frozen in time, on the ceiling of Soups of the World. Lighting by Reuben