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January 2001 NearNormal News



Well, here we go again! Another year, another set of new year’s resolution towrestle with. Here are some possibilities. (Haven’t settled on all of themyet).

  1. I resolve to do more caving this year than last year.
  2. I resolve NOT TO MOVE my residence ever again. (Takes too much time away from caving). This one will be easy to keep. Can’t AFFORD to move again.
  3. I resolve to exercise more this year. (Caving’s tough when you’re way out of shape, especially Wayne’s Lost). This resolution might be more of a challenge. The further out of shape you get, the harder it is to get back in shape. Takes more patience and will power and organization. (I’m okay on the will power, but the other things are another story).
  4. I still resolve never to go back to Wayne’s Lost. (see resolution #3). (see also my article in the May, 2000 NEWS).

The REALLY BIG news is that we now meet on the SECOND FRIDAY of each month,NOT the FOURTH FRIDAY. PLEASE mark your calendars. Our next meeting is JANUARY12th. I have high hopes that this change will help improve our meetingattendance. On that note, if anyone has any suggestions, please forward them toanyone on the Board, or voice them at a meeting. If it’s ideas for activitiesthat you would like to participate in, or after-meeting programs orwhatever…the NNG is your grotto. Unlike some that I’ve heard about (and readabout), we have a friendly, family-oriented group which is not splintered intobickering factions, fighting for power.

Speaking about how the NNG is governed, the elections are over for anotheryear, and here is your Executive Board for the year 2001:

President: Julie Angel, for a second term.

Vice President: John Schirle. This is John’s first turn as an officer.Welcome aboard, John!

Secretary: Jim Jacobs. Welcome to my life…

Treasurer: Dave Carson is re-elected.

Board Member at-large: Marc Tiritilli. Another newbie officer. (albeit awell-qualified one)

Due to the short turn-around time caused by the shift from the fourth Fridayto the second Friday, the holidays, and the fact that the weather cut down onour caving, this issue of the NEWS will be rather sparse. In other words, therejust hasn’t been much news. It’s no surprise to anyone that putting the NearNormal News together is a lot of work, and it takes quite a few people to makeit happen six times a year. I’d just like to take a minute and mention some ofthose who have gone "over and above" in shouldering a large share ofthe load for this past year. Folks, we couldn’t do it without you, and you haveall my thanks.

Brian Braye – Brian is co-editor. Hetakes the computer text files that I send to him along with the pictures andmolds them into a finished product. Such composition and layout is right up hisalley, and he does a great job. Then he prints the final product and takes itto the printers. When they’re printed, he folds and tapes them, adds theaddress labels and return address stamp, takes them to the post office, andputs the stamps on about fifty copies.

Dave Carson – Dave maintains themembership list, and the mailing list. He also provides Brian with the mailinglabels.

Troy J. Simpson – Over the lastyear, Troy contributed six articles, and produced the first index, which isreprinted in this issue. We hope to produce a comprehensive index of the NNN todate. When it’s ready, we’ll make a copy available to everyone who wants one.

Steve Taylor – Steve also authoredsix articles independently, and co-authored another.

Julie Angel – Julie, our esteemedPresident, wrote four "Echoes from the President" columns, even withthe time-consuming family obligations that she was dealing with. Norm Rogers,Lara Storm, Marc Tiritilli and Jeff Walaszek all contributed two articles each.Dave Carson, John Marquart, Earl Neller, Beth Reinke, and John Schirle eachwrote an article. Of course, John Marquart has been one of the maincontributors to the NNN over the years, and has authored many articles, some ofwhich have been widely reprinted in a variety of forums. This last year or so,he has been kept very busy with his talks on the chemistry of caves for theAmerican Chemical Society. Thanks again to all!

NNG’s challenges for the new year:

  1. Keep our current members.
  2. Add new members.
  3. Plan more activities.
  4. Come up with new ideas, to keep things fresh. (The picnic meeting was great, even with the scary weather).
  5. Plan a new group project, which will help to keep us focused. The BlackBall Mine mapping and gating project was our focus for our early years.

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MINUTES OFTHE MEETING - December 1, 2000

Called to order at 7:20pm by President Julie Angel. Present: Don Coons,Steve Taylor, Jim Jacobs, Dave Carson, Angie Carson (and Matthew), MarcTiritilli, Brett and Annie Bennett, Troy J. Simpson, Ralph Sawyer, Troy Odgers(visitor).



Treasurer’s report: Dave Carson states that he just moved, and hiscomputer is still packed up. He will deliver a proper report for the next issueof the NEWS, or by the January meeting at the latest. In the interim, hereports only an expenditure of $44.00 to rent our PO box for another year.

Secretary’s report: The previous meeting minutes were approved withthe following correction: There was an expenditure of $85.00 (lawyer fee) forthe "preparation of reports", but the money did not come from thegrotto treasury. The fee was covered by donations from members.

Executive Board Meeting: An emergency board meeting was held inDecember via email. As a result of research done by Brian Bray, we learned thatanother Friday was available at the bank this year. Jim Jacobs formallyproposed that we change our meeting schedule. As a result, WE VOTED TO MOVEGROTTO MEETINGS FROM THE FOURTH FRIDAY OF THE MONTH TO THE SECOND FRIDAY OF EACH MONTH. This will enable us to avoidconflicts with holidays like Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. This informationwas conveyed to the membership and met with general approval.


Brett Bennett reported on the ISS meeting. They discussed mapping software,and the fact that there is a large backlog of unentered data. There will be acleanup of Stempler Sinkhole (near Illinois Caverns) the week of April 14-15.The meeting will be at Kahokia Mounds. Grotto patches are available (only $3.00ea.)

ELECTIONS: We voted on the Board for the new year with the followingresults; Julie Angel was re-elected as President, John Schirle was elected asVice President, Jim Jacobs retained as Secretary, Dave Carson as Treasurer, andMarc Tiritilli became our new Board Member-at-Large. Congratulations to all(except me).


We discussed the fact of our declining membership. We now have 31 members,down from just over 50 a couple of years ago. 31 members is NOT bad for agrotto 3-4 hours from the nearest cave. Don C. mentioned that we have moreactive members than many grottos in the heart of cave country. Jim J. went overan old membership list and noted that most of the "missing members"are people who have moved away. Some were Mark Twain Grotto members who werecarried on our member roles as a courtesy. We no longer do this, although westill keep in contact with the MTG and schedule common activities wheneverpossible. There were a few who joined and we never heard from them again. Thegeneral consensus of the discussion is that we need to plan more activities,and do more to alert the community to our presence. As a result of this, TroyS. and Jim J. proposed to create a one-page brochure to hand out which wouldgive interested people information about us and what we do, along with contactinformation. This brochure could be placed at appropriate places like the ISUOutdoor Program Office, and perhaps Wild Country, Upper Limits etc.

Don Coons is Treasurer of the new Karst Conservancy of Ill. There are 300 orso caves in Illinois, few of which are managed. The idea is to conserve theseresources by leasing entrances, accepting donations or buying caves, andeventually turning them over to the State of Illinois as nature preserves. Theyare just in the process of raising initial funds now. They are in the processof closing on their first purchase very soon. DONATIONS ACCEPTED. The K.C.I hastax-free, non-profit status, so donations are tax-deductible. Contact Don forfurther information.

TRIP REPORTS: Brett B. went to Illinois Caverns with seven people, includingTroy S. and Val Stuart. Don Coons visited many lava tube caves in Hawaii.Adjourned. To Tobin’s for pizza!

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Jacobs, Secretary

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I was challenged by the problem of coming up with yet another trip report onIllinois Caverns. I guess that is a good problem, because that means that Ihave actually done some caving. I have found with each trip, I have become moreaware with the details and features of the caverns and the story that theytell. This is just a segment of that story.

Our journey begins, of course, at the entrance of Illinois Caverns. It isone of many that allow the elements to reach into the subterranean. As youclamor down the steep stairwell, you enter a world formed by dissolution,erosion, and deposition. You take a right and follow the knee-deep stream thatis only a ghost of the torrent that once formed this passage. As the streambegins to narrow, you stop and take look up at the ceiling expecting to findthe "life-line," the crack which caverns get their start. Instead youfind an incised stream channel that is less than a foot wide and meanders alongthe ceiling like a stretched out snake. This trench engraved into the ceilingis a peek into what Illinois Caverns once was. A stream passage of a matter ofinches in height, the water trying to cut and dissolve its way through thelimestone. The stream began creating graceful curves as it meandered laterallyunable to move upwards through the more resistant rock above. Patiently thestream created this channel until an easier path could be discovered. Thestream's patience is rewarded as a crack is found in the limestone below thechannel. The stream slowly begins its work downward, taking advantage of thenewfound weakness in the limestone. Occasionally a layer of resistant chertwould cause the stream to return to its meandering ways, but eventually itfinds a way to overcome the barrier and enlarge the passage.

Continuing through the caverns, you pass through areas which have elaborateflowstones mimicking waterfalls frozen in time. Reaching the "T"Junction, you take a left and continue your journey into the depths. Thepassage has widened and you notice definite differences in the limestone. Someareas have limestone nearing shear faces, others creating gentle slopes, andothers yet leaving overhanging ledges. One particular overhang sticks out overthe stream passage on the right side. Taking a closer look, it appears to be aflowstone that has abruptly ended 5 feet above the stream bed. A peculiarfeature, in that the base of the flowstone is nearly parallel to the floor, asif someone neatly trimmed it. You go underneath to investigate and note thedozens of rings that line the underside of the flowstone. If you didn't knowany better, you would think you were looking at the rings of tree trunk slice.Each ring represents a time when mineral saturated water could no longer moveand had to release its burden of calcium carbonate. The flowstone continued tofollow gravity's lead, expanding outward once it reached the soft limestonebelow. Soon the stream had cut into the once confining streambed, exposing theunderside of the flowstone. As the water dissolved the bed, it lapped up on thebelly of the flowstone creating the dimples that give the rings a Braille-likefeel. You soon realize that you are in fact standing in what was once 5 feet ofrock and sediment, erased away by the moving stream.

Walking through the caverns, you notice a strange rippled effect on a numberof rocks. Assuming it is the stream continuing its work on the caverns, youcontinue on. Approaching the breakdown passage, beyond the chimney domes, youreach a ledge overlooking the stream below. You look up and notice severaljagged objects protruding from the ceiling. Upon closer examination, you noticethey resemble tiny horns no larger than an inch in length. Nearby is a seriesof imbedded "Cheerio-like" objects leading to a small feature thatappears to be a flower. The flower would fit on a 3-inch square, with a halfdozen arms leading from its base. You ask yourself if these are remains ofcreatures that once lived in the caverns. No, they are a reminder of a time,before the stream had took to its endeavor of creating this marvel underneath.They are remnants of a time when ancient seas once covered the landscape. Thehorns are all that remains of tiny solitary corals that once used theirtentacles to capture prey. The flower is the business end of a crinoid. Itsarms once swept the ocean waves to filter out food. The "Cheerios"are the broken stem that was used to anchor the crinoid to the sea floor. Theircalcite rich bodies now become the contributing component to the creation ofthe limestone that surrounds you. You quickly remember the ripples you saw onthe rocks earlier. They were not creations of the stream, but creations of theocean waves moving across the ancient shore. The stream that now forms thecaverns is merely picking up where the sea left off. As you climb up the stairstowards the surface, you can only wonder what segment of the story IllinoisCaverns will tell you next time.

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Guidelinesfor Image Submission - by Brian Braye

I have been receiving some great caving photos for the Newsletter, but Ifeel we need to set some guidelines so that we are able to have quality imageson the printed page. High quality printers need a higher quality image than youneed for computer screen viewing. The cover photo needs to be of a certainquality because it will be run larger than most inside photos, and it needs tobe a highlight for the issue. Therefore, I am putting forth some possiblecriteria for submitted images. If an image is submitted in support of a writtenarticle, and would most likely appear on the inside, the image should be agrayscale (color removed) image of around 3 X 4 inches (vertical or horizontal)and have a resolution of at least 200 ppi. If the file is a TIFF file, it willbe about 469K. If it is JPEGed, the file will be smaller, but try to keep thecompression to a minimum (higher quality) in case the image needs to beenlarged for a special publication need. For a cover photo, the image should bea grayscale image at least 5 X 7 inches with a resolution of at least 200 ppi.This will result in a file of around 1.34 M. This file could be a TIFF with LZWcompression, to make it smaller, or JPEGed with quality in mind. The mostimportant thing to remember now is, the file should be converted to grayscale.This will reduce the file size down to a third of the original, and since theNNN is not printed in color (yet), we do not need the color files. One possibleproblem is my e-mail at the university. It will truncate (read ruin) files thatare over 1 M, so if you are sending multiple images, they need to be onseparate mailings. Keep up the good work of submitting those great shots, andif you have to send a file that is in color, or less than ideal
resolution, go ahead, I will do the best I can with it and publish it ifpossible.

Thanks for your support.


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