The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 44 Number 1: 11-14 - January 1982

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Speculations on Natural Explosions at Old Hannah's Cave, Staffordshire, England
Colin Pounder


Old Hannah's Cave, Staffordshire (England) is a natural limestone cave associated with the underground course of the River Manifold. The adjacent wall of the Redhurst Gorge contains several smaller solutional openings and, in addition, has been strongly frost shattered.

Reliable observations of flames and coincident explosive sounds emanating from the wall during the 1800's suggest that gases such as methane accumulated in the underground river channel, were released into fissures leading to the surface by intervals of atmospheric low pressure, and were ignited by static electricity in blowing sand on the cliff face. Recent sedimentation in the cave may have blocked the access of gas to the surface, thereby preventing the occurrence of the phenomena today.

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