Madison: Beyond the Courtyard

KUR divers have been diving Madison Blue Springs to map known passages and extend exploration beyond the Courtyard since January 2022. Over 3000 feet of passage has been surveyed and the end of line has been extended 2000 feet–with no end in sight.

Current KUR Madison Blue TEAM: Matt Hansen, Joey McNamara, Frank McNamara, Chris Hartmann, Kathleen Seide, Eli Romine, and Charlie Roberson

Long ago, Sheck Exley ended his exploration of the Courtyard when he reached a very small tunnel with no obvious way through or around. This tunnel has some flow but is too small to feasibly explore. Later, Doug Chapell found a tunnel to the left a little before the end of Sheck’s line and extended the EOL by 200’ through a dusty passage. His line ended at a sidemount restriction on the top of a silty breakdown hill.

Recently, we were able to squeeze through that restriction to discover that the cave keeps going. The next 800 feet of cave are generally low, small and rocky, but passable in a sidemount rebreather. Beyond that, the cave begins to open up again and the flow increases. The cave has extensive branching, which are likely side passages that loop back to the main conduit. The flow is significant where we are currently exploring–which most likely indicates more to find.

A separate but connected project has exploration and surveying involving Ransom Sink. In 1982, Guy Bryant and Roger Werner found a passage off the Crossunder tunnel that connected to a little-known entrance called Ransom Sink. Roger and others continued exploration past Ransom Sink, but if this passage was surveyed at the time, that data has been lost. After making repairs to the 40 year old line, we were able to survey the passage to Ransom Sink using a fiberglass measuring tape over the course of two dives. We plan to continue the survey beyond the sink on future dives.

The team has also completed surveys of numerous other small tunnels and marked leads for future exploration.

The KUR team will continue to explore, map and photograph at Madison and its many other current projects in support of preserving Florida’s Springs and expanding it’s State Park reach.

Author: Robert Beckner

Bob Beckner has been diving for 36 years and technical diving for 27.  Growing up in Florida led him to cave diving and wreck diving and working in several dive shops along the way.  He was fortunate enough to have had Terrence Tysall as a technical instructor and learn in a very “GUE” like fashion before GUE existed.  He has participated in several USSR Monitor expeditions with the Cambrian foundation, gone with Mote to the Gulf Blue Holes and worked with Karst Underwater Research for 13 years helping Explore and Document Florida’s Karst features. His favorite KUR projects are Weeki Wachee Springs, Peacock Springs, Werner Boyce State Park/Deep Salt Springs and any site that needs photo documentation. Number one bucket list dive type: mine diving.  He lives in Central Florida under the watchful and protective eye of Sheriff Grady Judd.

2 thoughts on “Madison: Beyond the Courtyard”

  1. Jennifer Sullivan

    You should get that video that you showed on Friday to National Geographic. So awesome!

  2. Barbara Dwyer

    What a pleasure to read this. Like many people, I haven’t seen too much beyond the Courtyard, although I did some dives with Wayne Kinard when he and Doug were looking for continuing passage. ‘d love to see the video that Jennifer mentioned.

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