Hutcheson, a renowned cave diver, was commissioned to explore and map out the underground caverns of Silver Springs, one of the world’s largest artesian spring systems and a major tourist destination in North Central Florida, according to The Ledger.
Hutcheson and his team explored more than 2,200 feet of passages, but had to stop short of the grand aquifer because of the intense pressure of the water and because of safety concerns, the article explained. Not only was the ceiling structure of the underwater caves unstable, but Hutcheson saw that falling rocks could easily block his team’s passageway out.
Hutcheson’s six-man expedition began in 1993 and lasted for 12 months, the article indicated. The expedition was funded by Florida Leisure Acquisition Corp., the previous owner of Silver Springs. While mapping the underground caves of Silver Springs, Hutcheson often had to remove his air tank from his back and hold it out in front of him so he could fit through the various narrow openings he encountered in the springs.
What Is Silver Springs?
The massive Silver Springs formation is composed of at least 16 springs, and the primary spring is the aptly named Mammoth Spring. The springs serve as the main source of Florida’s Silver River and produce an astounding 550 million gallons of water a day. Mammoth Spring sits in the center of Silver Springs State Park, Florida’s newest park that only recently opened to the public on Oct. 1 of this year. Long before this new state park, however, visitors flocked to the springs for glass-bottom boat tours and to soak in the natural beauty of the area.
Those who have dived beneath the surface of the scenic springs have noted that the underwater landscape changes colors depending on the weather outside, producing an aquatic kaleidoscope of colors. Under the surface, divers see everything from pure white limestone laced with bubbling fissures to earth-toned porous rock, not to mention some ancient fossils and artifacts along the underwater caves’ bottom, the article noted.
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(Photo by Alan Youngblood | Halifax Media Services Photos / via TheLedger.com)
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