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Sunday, 16 April 2017 13:42

Malham Area Water Testing

As part of an ongoing project by Yorkshire Subterranean Society members in the Malham area a major water tracing experiment was organised for the beginning of May 1996. The project attracted interest/funding from BCRA, several Dales based Caving Clubs and a considerable number of individuals who volunteered to assist with the experiment. Accordingly, 4 glorious days over the May day bank holiday saw small groups of people paddling in the various streams and risings around Malham, taking a variety of samples, protecting nets and detector sites from the hordes of tourists, visiting the pubs and cafes and generally enjoying themselves (apart from those on night shift).

 MALHAM AREA WATER TESTING MAY 1996

DYE TRACING RESULTS

Introduction

  1. As part of an ongoing project by Yorkshire Subterranean Society members in the Malham area a major water tracing experiment was organised for the beginning of May 1996. The project attracted interest/funding from BCRA, several Dales based Caving Clubs and a considerable number of individuals who volunteered to assist with the experiment. Accordingly, 4 glorious days over the May day bank holiday saw small groups of people paddling in the various streams and risings around Malham, taking a variety of samples, protecting nets and detector sites from the hordes of tourists, visiting the pubs and cafes and generally enjoying themselves (apart from those on night shift).

Aim

  1. The overall aim of the experiment was to obtain as much information as possible concerning the drainage pattern of the Malham catchment, however, there were three areas in particular where it was thought that valuable results would be achieved:-

    1. Sink to rising connections - it was hoped to confirm previously proven connections and establish connections for those sinks not previously tested.

    2. Gain an insight into the way water flows through the system in terms of flow-through times (velocity), i.e. some sinks have been tested before, in two cases many times, but with no correlation of prevailing water conditions. So whilst quoted flow-through times of 2 hours from Smelt Mill Sink to Malham Cove and 44 hours from Kuling Hole are both correct, no direct comparison between the two may be made.

    3. Exploration of the Aire River Passage has added a new dimension to the Malham drainage pattern. Over 1 kilometre of sump which includes several inlets lies behind the face of Malham Cove. By placing detectors and plankton nets at selected points in the sump it was hoped to prove connections to specific inlets.

Method

  1. It was intended to achieve the aim by injecting a combination of dye and particle tracers into eight of the sinks that feed the system and establishing points of emergence/flow-through times by use of water samples, plankton net samples and "detectors" taken at regular intervals.

jcdive 
John Cordingley - Malham Cove Flood Entrance Rising 20 April 1996
Preparing to place detectors and nets

Background information

  1. From Monday 22 April until Wednesday 1 May there was a considerable amount of rain (82.4mm). For the next 17 days rainfall was minimal, therefore, tracers were injected into sinks on falling water levels which continued to decrease until by Sunday 19 May very low flow conditions existed at all the monitoring sites. The next fortnight saw an increased rainfall (73.2mm) and so by 1 June the system had had a good flush through.

  2. Plankton nets and detectors were positioned in the Aire River Passage on Saturday 20 April by 2 divers, the remaining sites being equipped with nets and/or detectors on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 May.

  3. All tracers were injected into the sinks at 20.00 hrs on Friday 3 May and the first samples taken at 22.00 hrs on the same day.

  4. In total 32 sample sites were used during the exercise, 4 of these being in the Aire River passage accessible only to divers and thus realising just one set of samples.

  5. 13 of the sites were subjected to regular sampling over a 4-day period with the last samples being taken at 22.00 hrs on Tuesday 7 May.

  6. Most of the sites were visited and samples taken on Wednesday 8, Sunday 12 and finally Saturday 18 May when the majority of sites were cleared of detectors and nets.

  7. A final visit was made on Saturday 1 June for 3 divers to remove the nets and detectors from the Aire River Passage and for the remaining surface sites to be cleared.

  8. Approximately 1300 individual samples were taken during the exercise. All the samples have been randomly numbered by type and examination is being carried out blind.

Results

  1. A total of 713 samples were taken for the dye-testing elements of the experiment, of these 23 were found to be positive and are listed below. The remaining 690 were negative and have not been listed; however, some reference is made to individual negative samples in the findings and conclusions, where a negative finding assists in interpretation of the results. Water samples and Charcoal detectors were examined at Huddersfield University for Fluorescein and Rhodamine traces under the supervision of Paul Hardwick and the Cotton Wool detectors were examined by Alan Speight for traces of the Optical Brightener. The samples taken consisted of:-

    1. 491 water samples
    2. 75 charcoal detectors
    3. 147 cotton wool detectors
  2. Optical Brightening Agent (OBA).

    Sink K2 Grid SD869637
    Sample Type BP Cotton Wool
    Injected By Phil Parker/Bob Powell
    Examined By Alan Speight

    Sample No

    Location

    Date & Time

    Comments

    Collected by

    93

    M/C Main Rising

    Sun 12/5/96 12.00 hrs*

    Positive

    Roger Turton/Phil Parker

    270

    M/C 100m Rising

    Sun 12/5/96 12.00 hrs*

    Positive

    Roger Turton/Phil Parker

    427

    M/C 700m site

    Sun 12/5/96 12.00 hrs*

    Faint Trace

    Roger Turton/Phil Parker

    280

    M/C Main Rising

    Sat 18/5/96 12.00 hrs*

    Positive

    R Turton

    173

    M/C 100m Rising

    Sat 18/5/96 12.00 hrs*

    Positive

    R Turton

    450

    M/C 700m site

    Sat 18/5/96 12.00 hrs*

    Positive

    R Turton

    * Approximate time
  3. Fluorescein

    Sink Boggle Cave Grid SD871647
    Sample Type Activated Charcoal/Water
    Injected By Alan Speight/Tom Thompson
    Examined By Paul Hardwick

    Charcoal Detectors

    Sample No

    Location

    Date & Time

    Comments

    Collected by

    268

    Stainforth

    Wed 8/5/96 08.15 hrs

    Faint Trace

    Roger Turton

    122

    M/C Main Rising

    Wed 8/5/96 11.50 hrs

    Positive

    RT, PP or AS

    93

    M/C Main Rising

    Sun 12/5/96 12.00 hrs*

    Positive

    Roger Turton

    270

    M/C 100m Rising

    Sun 12/5/96 12.00 hrs*

    Positive

    Roger Turton/Phil Parker

    427

    M/C 700m site

    Sun 12/5/96 12.00 hrs*

    Positive

    Roger Turton/Phil Parker

    506

    Cowside

    Sun 12/5/96 13.00 hrs*

    Faint Trace

    Roger Turton

    * Approximate time

    Water Samples

    Sample No

    Location

    Date & Time

    Comments

    Collected by

    316

    Grizedale Hole

    Fri 3/5/96 22.30 hrs

    Negative

    Alan Speight

    231

    Tranlands Beck

    Sat 4/5/96 02.00 hrs

    Positive

    Janet Harland/Elaine Hill

    108

    Tranlands Beck

    Mon 6/5/96 10.00 hrs

    Positive

    Fred Weekes/Nicky Bissett

    448

    Aireheads North

    Sat 4/5/96 06.40 hrs

    Positive

    Phil Parker/Martin Smith

    471

    Aireheads North

    Sat 4/5/96 14.35 hrs

    Positive

    Chris Camm/Pete Grant

    112

    Aireheads North

    Sun 5/5/96 02.00 hrs

    Positive

    Janet Harland/Elaine Hill

    538

    Aireheads North

    Sun 5/5/96 10.35 hrs

    Positive

    Phil Parker/Martin Smith

    34

    M/C 100m Rising

    Wed 8/5/96 11.45 hrs

    Positive

    RT, PP or AS

    270

    M/C Main Rising

    Wed 8/5/96 11.50 hrs

    Positive

    RT, PP or AS

             
  4. Rhodamine

    Sink Gorbeck Cave Grid SD865658
    Sample Type Activated Charcoal/Water
    Injected By Janet Harland
    Examined By Paul Hardwick

    Sample No

    Location

    Date & Time

    Comments

    Collected by

    3

    Aire Heads North

    Mon 6/5/96 20.30 hrs

    Faint Trace

    Chris Camm

    124

    Aire Heads South

    Mon 6/5/96 20.30 hrs

    Faint Trace

    Chris Camm

    299

    Aire Heads Centre

    Mon 6/5/96 20.30 hrs

    Faint Trace

    Chris Camm

Findings:-

  1. K2/OBA

    1. It was found impractical to detect OBA in water samples by fluorometer, therefore, evidence is from detectors only.
    2. Of the 147 cotton wool detectors examined only 6, all of which came from the sites in Malham Beck, proved to be positive.
    3. One of these 6, sample No 427 from the 700m site, Sunday 12 May showed only a faint trace of OBA.
    4. The last set of negative detectors was removed at 11.45 hrs on Wednesday 8 May and the first positive ones on Sunday 12 May, no further detectors were removed until Saturday 18 May these also being positive. The last detectors taken on 1 June proved to be negative. Note that as each detector was removed a fresh one replaced it.

  2. Boggle cave /Fluorescein

Water is supplied to Boggle Cave from a small boggy area. As only a trickle of water was entering the cave a small dam was built to pond the water. When the dam was broken a pulse of water entered the cave, at which time the Fluorescein was injected. Of the 3 "dyes" used in the testing Fluorescein proved to have the largest number of positive samples, i.e. 6 charcoal and 8 water. It was the only tracing agent to be identified in water samples and was detected at 4 separate locations, Malham Cove/100m Rising/700m site, Aire Head Springs, Tranlands beck and Stainforth/Cowside. Comments on each site are listed below:-

      1. Malham Cove main rising, 100m Rising & 700m site:->

        1. Regular sampling ceased 22.00 hrs Tuesday 7 May.
        2. Fluorescein coming through 11.45 hrs Wednesday 8 May, water samples 270 & 34, Malham Cove main rising and 100m rising respectively.
        3. Not detected in water sample 270 or charcoal detector 314 taken 11.30 hrs Wednesday 8 May Malham Cove 700m site.
        4. Not detected in Charcoal detector 321 removed Malham Cove 100m rising 11.45 hrs Wednesday 8 May.
        5. Charcoal detector 122, Malham Cove main rising, removed 11.50 hrs Wednesday 8 May, positive. Replaced with detector no 93, removed Sunday 12 May, also positive.
        6. Charcoal detector 270, Malham Cove 100m rising, removed Sunday 12 May, positive.
        7. Charcoal detector 447, Malham Cove 700m site, removed Sunday 12 May, positive.
        8. Last water samples taken Wednesday 8 May.
        9. Last charcoal detectors taken Sunday 12 May.

 

      1. Airehead Springs:-

        1. Only detected in water samples at Aireheads North rising.
        2. Detected intermittently over a period of 28 hours with each of the 4 positive samples being separated by several negative ones.
        3. The first positive sample was taken more than10 hours and the last positive sample more than 38 hours after Fluorescein injected into the sink.
        4. Not detected in charcoal detector number 372 Aireheads North removed 20.20 hrs Saturday 4 May or number 3 Aireheads North removed 20.30 hrs Monday 6 May.
        5. Not detected in any water samples or charcoal detectors from Aireheads south or centre.

 

      1. Tranlands Beck:-

        1. Only detected in 2 water samples.
        2. The first positive sample was taken more than 4 hours and the second more than 60 hours after Fluorescein injected into the sink.
        3. Not detected in charcoal detector number 41 removed 20.15 hrs Saturday 4 May or number 62 removed 20.13 hrs Monday 6 May.

 

      1. Stainforth/Cowside:-

        1. Faint trace found in charcoal detector, number 268 taken at Stainforth 08.15 hrs Wednesday 8 May.
        2. Not detected in charcoal detector 98 removed from Cowside on Wednesday 8 May.
        3. Faint trace found in charcoal detector, number 506 taken at Cowside on Sunday 12 May.
        4. Not detected in charcoal detector 514 removed from Stainforth on Sunday 12 May.
        5. The Stainforth detector site was downstream of the Cowside site.
        6. The last negative detector removed from Stainforth prior to Wednesday 8 May was number 217 at 19.20 hrs Sunday 5 May.
        7. The last negative detector removed from Cowside prior to Sunday 12 May was number 98 on Wednesday 8 May.
        8. Last charcoal detectors taken Sunday 12 May.
Cowside Beck Sampling Site Cowside Beck 

Note:-

Grizedale hole - A small water pulse was observed in Grizedale Hole shortly after the Fluorescein was injected into Boggle Cave, though a water sample, No 316, taken on the back of the pulse proved to be negative (see paragraph 20.e.).

  1. Gorbeck cave/Rhodamine

 

      1. The Rhodamine proved to be somewhat elusive with only 3 positive charcoal detector results out of a total number of 566 samples examined i.e. 491 water and 75 charcoal.
      2. The 3 samples came from Aireheads North, South and Centre and were all taken at 20.30 hrs Monday 6 May.
      3. The last negative detectors removed from Airehead springs prior to Monday evening were taken at 20.20 hrs Saturday 4 May.
      4. All detectors removed after Monday 6 May proved negative.

Conclusions

  1. We conclude that although results were obtained from each of the 3 sinks tested, the low water conditions existing during the period of concentrated sampling affected the flow-through times to such an extent that the aims of the experiment were not fully realised.

 

We further conclude that given the prevailing water conditions at the time of the testing:-

  1. The stream issuing from the foot of Malham Cove is the resurgence for water sinking at K2, the flow-through time being 4.5 to 8.5 days. As detectors removed on Saturday 18 May were also positive, the optical brightener was still coming through on Sunday 12 May, which suggests that the flow through time is closer to 8.5 days. It is probable that the faint trace of OBA recorded at the 700m site is due to falling water levels, as, by Sunday 12 May the net and detectors at this site were almost high and dry and were moved into a deeper part of the beck. The findings confirm results from previous testing, Reference A, test 3 & 4. However, due to the negative results from detectors in the Aire River passage the point of entry for the K2 water, at a point upstream of the 600m choke is not confirmed. It has been suggested that the following may account for the negative nature of the detectors:-

    1. Layering in the water.
    2. Further inlets into the Aire River Passage Downstream of Hell's Bells.
    3. Something blocking access to the detectors i.e. silt.

  2. Airehead Springs are resurgences for Gorbeck Cave with a flow through time of between 1 and 3 days. Although only a faint trace of Rhodamine was found, as all detectors were examined blind, 3 positive results from the same location at the same time are more than coincidence. This result apparently is contrary to Reference B where 2lbs of Fluorescein produced a visual sighting at Malham Cove in 3 days (see paragraph 21.b.). However, it should be noted Reference C indicates that no examination of Airehead Springs was made on that occasion. It is therefore possible that the springs were positive at that time.

  3. The stream issuing from the foot of Malham Cove is the main resurgence for water sinking at Boggle cave, though its entry point into the Aire River Passage was not determined (see comments at Paragraph 20.a.). We believe the flow through time of 4½ days is very accurate because the water samples Nos. 270 and 34 at the main rising and 100m rising respectively (11.50 hrs & 11.45 hrs Wednesday 8 May) were positive and sample No 176 from the 700m site (11.25 hrs Wednesday 8 May) was negative. However, the cave may also feed to the following risings:-

    1. Stainforth/Cowside - To feed Cowside Beck the cave must lie on a watershed and feed both east to the Aire and west to the Ribble in a time of 2 to 4½ days. As the charcoal detectors showed only a faint trace of fluorescein it is not surprising that the water samples proved negative. The fact that the Stainforth detector proved to be positive before that at Cowside could indicate that there are 2 points of resurgence into Cowside beck with water arriving first at the western most one. However, it is also possible that fluorescein by-passed detector number 98 particularly as detector number 514 removed from Stainforth on Sunday 12/05/96 was negative when the one upstream was positive.

    2. Aireheads North Rising - It is unfortunate that charcoal detectors from the north rising and the centre rising (positioned to catch the combined flow from both north and south risings) failed to provide confirmation of the 4 positive water samples which indicated a fast flow-through time of ½ to 1½ days. We therefore regard this result with some suspicion. At Reference D there is evidence to show that the north and south risings though being the main resurgence for Tarn Water Sinks are fed from at least one other source which affects only one of the springs.

    3. Tranlands Beck - Would also appear a suspicious result, with 2 positive water samples recorded at more than 4 hours and more than 60 hours into the test, neither of which is confirmed by charcoal detectors

  4. Water issuing from the Malham Cove main rising and the 100m rising is from the same source despite the temperature differential of the two risings, Reference E, p172.

  5. The Boggle Cave/Grizedale hole connection at Reference F was not confirmed, probably due to inadequate sampling arrangements as the presence of a small water pulse suggests that the two caves are connected. It is possible that the water sample was taken too soon after the appearance of the pulse for the fluorescein to have travelled through the intervening passage.

  6. There is no connection from the three sinks to risings east of Malham Beck i.e. those that feed into Gordale Beck. It was considered a possibility that the 2 small risings on the west side of Gordale and that at Mires barn may prove positive, particularly as Reference G indicates a Mires barn/Cawden burst connection. Under flood conditions Cawden Burst issues considerable quantities of water that has been proved to be from the Tarn Water Sinks/Malham Cove/Aireheads system, Reference A, Test 5.

Further Work

 

  1. As with anything, the more you know the more there is to know and we feel that some follow up work needs carrying out as below:-

    1. K2 - It is well established that Malham Cove main rising is the resurgence for K2, however, the point of entry of the K2 water into the Aire River passage is unknown and should the opportunity to place detectors in the sump arise further testing should be undertaken. It is also considered possible for K2 to feed Cowside beck, via the Grizedales fault, though, perhaps due to the low water conditions, no evidence for this has yet been found. At least one more test must therefore be carried out under higher water levels.

    2. Gorbeck Cave - The visual sighting of fluorescein at Reference C would suggest that Malham Cove main rising is indeed a resurgence for Gorbeck Cave instead of or as well as Airehead springs. Tests at this site need repeating under both high and low water conditions to determine if:-

      1. Both risings are fed together.
      2. Just one rising is fed.
      3. One rising is fed in preference to the other at different water levels.
    3. Boggle Cave - As far as we have been able to ascertain this is the first test of the cave and the results obtained indicate that more testing is required to answer the questions raised by Paragraphs 20.c. and e.

    4. Malham Cove 100m rising - Some more work needs to be undertaken to determine from where this rising is fed. Being slightly lower than both the main rising and the flood rising, water could be running underneath the bed of the surface stream before emerging here or alternatively it could be fed from somewhere in the Aire river passage. There is also a further small rising which runs into a small stone trough on the true right bank of the stream almost opposite the 100m rising and some testing to this point should be made.

References.

  1. Speight, A. Hydrology of the Aire River System, YSS 3 March 1994.
  2. Gallivan, D. Gorbeck Cave - Malham, NCC Journal No 4 March 1980.
  3. Personal correspondence Parker/Gallivan.
  4. Smith, D. I. & Atkinson, T. C. Underground flow in Cavernous Limestone's with special reference to the Malham area, Field Studies (1977) 4.
  5. CDG, Northern Sump Index 1995, Malham Cove Rising.
  6. Northern Caves, Volume 2, The Three Peaks, Malham Area, Grizedale Hole.
  7. Howarth, J. H. et al. (1900). The Underground Waters of Northwest Yorkshire, part 1, The Sources of the River Aire. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological and Polytechnic Society, Vol. XIV {Part 1.


Annexe's

  1. Sink and Rising Locations (85k jpg)
  2. Sinks \ Caves tested
  3. Sites \ Risings monitored
  4. Positive water sample results
  5. Rainfall figures Malham Tarn field centre April \ May 1996
  6. Net and detector locations Aire River passage

 

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the individuals and organisations listed below without whom we would have been unable to undertake the project:-

Nicky Bissett Dave Brock Chris Camm Alan Clarke
John Cordingley Fiona Durham Tim Fern Bill Gasgoine
Chris Gill Mike & Debbie Gomersall Mark Goodwin Pete Grant
Dave Hanson "Grovel" Paul Hardwick Janet Harland Elaine Hill
Ian Lloyd Harry Long Keith Plumb Bob Powell
Martin Smith Gladys Speight Nigel Steel Tom Thompson
Phillip Turton Fred Weekes Martin Whillock John Wilcox

British Cave Research Association

Bradford Pothole Club

Craven Pothole Club

Northern Pennine Club

White Rose Pothole Club

Yorkshire Subterranean Society

Signatories

Phil Parker
Alan Speight
Roger Turton

15 December 1997


NOTES / ADDENDUM

  1. Further testing at Boggle Cave / Grizedale Hole using Optical Brightener during November and December 1997 has:-

  2. Conclusively confirmed the Boggle / Grizedale connection

  3. Established that the Boggle / Grizedale water enters the Aire River Passage at the present end of the system i.e. the 625 metre shaft in the main passage and down the 550 metre inlet.


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