The Devon Karst Research Society & Speleološko Društvo "Zelena Brda"
Istočna Hercegovina, Bosna i Hercegovina.
Источна Херцеговина, Босна и Херцеговина,
Fatnica Polje, Eastern Herzegovina, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

updated 21 June 2007.

Section 17.0.    CAVE DIVING  -

17.1.    GENERAL :
Work has been undertaken from time to time in Estavela "Obod" to explore its extent in both the vadose and phreatic sections. There are scant records of these attempts, some of which have been undertaken in very recent years as part of "recreational" activities by cavers in BiH and also from other countries. [The emphasis here is on the phrase "recreational" activities by cavers"]. The only serious attempt at surveying the both the vadose and phreatic sections of the conduit aquifer in the Estavela "Obod" area was commissioned by the HET Co. in the 1960's., and unfortunately, we are currently unable to reconcile the very detailed survey obtained by the speleologists at that time with the same part of the cave system as observed today. This may be due to the damage caused by the HET Co. during their dynamiting of the concrete plug in the shaft of the Estavelle used in the 1960's during a futile attempt to control the Estavelle. It may also be that the former vadose streamway at the base of the Estavela "Obod" shaft is now permanently underwater due to the presence of the Bilećko Jezero, which has a maximum elevation near to that of the former streamway floor at the bottom of the Estavelle's 1st Underground Vertical Shaft.
We have no knowledge of any previous work undertaken to investigate the underwater sections of Estavela "Baba Jama" or of any other caves and shafts in Fatničko Polje, including those in the ponor zone.

This magnificent estavelle offers enormous potential for speleological exploration. The many entrances in the top half of the entrance shaft will be investigated as part of a separate sub-Project. The greatest potential for new or previously unexplored passages are within the Fatničko Polje Trunk-Aquifer (or Master Conduit) at the bottom of the 1st Underground Vertical Pitch. Downstream exploration of this trunk-aquifer from the downstream siphon, will inevitably lead to a connection with Estavela "Baba Jama". (Further downstream exploration of the trunk aquifer in this direction beyond Estavela "Baba Jama" will be dealt with in Section 9. of these webpages).
However. it is with the exploration of the Upstream Siphon that the greatest potential exists. The section of the Fatničko Polje Trunk-Aquifer upstream of Estavela "Obod" could eventually lead to the ponors of Cerničko Polje, a minimum straight-line distance of 16km.
This is a new Section 18. in preparation for the Fatničko Polje Webpages which will be dedicated to the CAVE DIVING PROGRAMME in this remarkable area and includes cave diving investigations in Estavela "Obod".


The Gatačko Polje - [ -- Cerničko Polje - Fatničko Polje -- ] - Vrela Trebišnjice, (Bileća), Karst Conduit-aquifer Ecosystem :

The Society is promoting the first stages of a renewed exploration of this magnificent cave system beyond the upstream and downstream siphons in the master-cave or trunk-aquifer. Locally, this will be organized and controlled by the Speleološko Društvo "Zelena Brda". The work will take the form of a major cave diving exploration over several years. Preparations are in hand for the installation of permanent infrastructure to enable this difficult line of scientific enquiry to proceed.
Our Hungarian Members have organized the participation of a Hungarian Cave Diving team for all underwater investigations connected with the "Proteus Project", which includes that part of the Project concerned with the investigation of Fatničko Polje. Both the Speleološko Društvo "Zelena Brda", (Trebinje) and the Devon Karst Research Society, (Plymouth), heartily welcome the involvement of Members of various cave-diving and non-cave diving clubs from Budapest, Hungary. In the text of the Website, these specialists are always referred to as "The Hungarian Cave Diving Team".

Over the 2002-2005 diving seasons, they have given of their time and labours entirely free, as befits the ideals and philosophy of this International Voluntary Sector Project.
This dedicated team of Hungarian Cave Divers was assembled for the first reconnaisance / surveying dives, undertaken in August 2002, in preparation for the first main underwater exploration in 2003. However, the first reconnaisance / surveying dives were not actually undertaken until September 2003. The cave diving programme will be on-going for a number of years. As indicated above, this work will also be linked to the exploration of Estavela "Baba Jama" and beyond, which is directly linked via accessible underwater passages in the same trunk-aquifer system.
All results are formally recorded in the Project's "BLUE FILES" System of digital and hardcopy print-out documentation and further information about this can be seen in the main Proteus Project Webpages.

Additionally, attempts to reach the downstream outlet karst spring zone of this karst conduit-aquifer will be made as and when possible.
The principal outlet orifice of the conduit-aquifer is Dejanova Pećina, which is submerged at a maximum depth of 75m (246 feet) below the surface of the Bileća Jezero and presents the scenario of a technically-difficult and highly risky investigation.
Several attempts have been made to dive down to this location, without success.    CAVE DIVING NEWSBOARD :
        Archived BRIEFING UPDATE No. 1. (dated September 2002).
Attempts to install ten stainless steel belays in the accessible vadose master cave were prevented by various factors.
Firstly, the attempt to install the first set of stainless steel belays at the head of the first underground vertical using Petzl percussion drills and hammer were thwarted by the extreme hardness of the cretaceous limestone. Photos FP 8.10. and FP 8.11. above indicate the "glassy" nature of the limestone. This part of the pre-cave diving preparations will be undertaken in late August 2003 using a portable electric drill to penetrate the limestone bedrock.
The second set-back was the unusually high water level in the area in September 2002, which reduced the vadose master cave passage to a flooded condition. This would have prevented any exploration work being undertaken.
The Hungarian cave-diving team did undertake very successful work at locations in Popovo Polje and confirmed that they would return to Fatničko Polje and the Estavela "Obod" in 2003.
Further information on this ambitious programme will be posted here when available.
        Archived BRIEFING UPDATE No. 2. (dated September 2003).
The 1st reconnaisance dives were successfully undertaken in Estavela "Obod" by Dianovszki Tibor and Zsoldós Petér in September 2003, at which time the weather conditions were more favourable than before. The date of the September dives was at the very end of the summer dry-season and work had to be curtailed due to the ocurrence of local storms. The water level in Estavela "Obod" was not at the lowest known level.
All Dive Report Documentation is complete and available for access by Project workers. Other useful reconnaisance work elsewhere in Fatničko Polje was undertaken and also reported upon.
        Archived BRIEFING UPDATE No. 3. (dated August 2004).
The 2nd main cave-diving season was successfully undertaken in Estavela "Obod" with Dianovszki Tibor leading the programme. Unfortunately, two of the principal cave-divers, Zsoldós Petér and Szabo Zoltan, were not in attendance for reasons of illness and of having other committments. However, although the depth and distance reached in 2003 was not exceeded in 2004., the quality and quantity of information obtained about the speleo-biology of Estavela "Obod" by the dedicated Hungarian Cave-diving Team, was fantastic.
        Archived BRIEFING UPDATE No. 4. (dated December 2005).
The 3rd main cave-diving season was successfully undertaken in Estavela "Obod". Although the depth and distance reached in 2003 was still not exceeded in 2005., the quality and quantity of information obtained about the speleo-biology of Estavela "Obod" by the dedicated Hungarian Cave-diving Team, was fantastic.
        Archived BRIEFING UPDATE No. 5. (dated December 2006).
The 4th main cave-diving season in Estavela "Obod" did not take place due to high water levels and inclement weather.

        NEWS OF THE BiH CAVE DIVING PROGRAMME for 2007, (dated June 2007).
Preliminary information can be obtained by Project Workers via the following secure Link :-

*...Essential information for participants in the Summer 2007 cave diving season in Eastern Herzegovina.
     (Status :  active, Issue 5. dated 21 June 2007., as an MS Word Doc. - Authorized users only)
Visibility problems were encountered by the members of the Hungarian Cave-diving Team in July 2004. We now know why this occurs :-

The water entering the conduit in its upstream sections at the ponor zones in Gatačko Polje is badly affected by the sediment-laden input of industrial origin;

Visibility problems were again encountered by the members of the Hungarian Cave-diving Team in August 2005.
As a result of the visibility problems of 2004, we took the first steps to investigate the problem during 2005 and 2006, by undertaking a surface reconnaissance of the ponor zones in Gatačko Polje. What we found does not make good news for the long-term investigation of Estavela "Obod".
What we found will be dealt with in the dedicated Webpages for Gatačko Polje.

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