As a commercial diver, Xavier works in the deep ocean, on offshore oil platforms. The ‘Goul de la Tannerie’ was his first dive in an overhead environment, dating back to 2000. During this dive, he only covered a distance of 150 m, but it was a revelation. Since then, Xavier used his professional skills to explore the deepest French resurgences, until he obtained the world record in cave diving when reaching a depth of 286 m in 2019.
Xavier had been working in the ‘Gouls de Tourne’ in cooperation with the French Cave Diving Federation (FFESSM) since 2002, beginning with the unblocking of Goul du Pont. For several years, he concentrated on the exploration of this system, until he finally reached the current end of this cave in the year 2019 at -204 m and at a distance of 1265 m, of which more than 700 m are between -185 m and -204 m.
Goul de la Tannerie
Xavier began to explore the ‘Goul de la Tannerie’ in the year 2014 and reached the bottom of this cave at a depth of -240 m. From here, he continued horizontally in this deep gallery during 2 more dives in the year 2019 and recently in March 2023, and covered a distance of 1455 m level.
An encroachment in a horizontal gallery beyond -240 m inevitably leads to long hours of decompression. To reduce these times, one has to increase the speed of descent, in order to limit the saturation of gases in the body. This is a speciality of the Seacraft Ghost dual DPV, which can reach a speed of nearly 100 m/min – even with Xavier’s rather a bulky twin rebreather mCCR JOKI configuration.
In 2019, Xavier’s dive took a little more than 9 hours, and he used a single Seacraft Ghost 2000 scooter.
The first exploration with a dual DPV
In the year 2023, with the dual DPV Seacraft Ghost 2000, Xavier needed only 7 h 23 minutes to add another 80cm of the line after covering a distance of 200 m at depths between -240 m and -246 m (the maximum depth reached during this dive). This dive was realized in total autonomy, thanks to his twin mCCR JOKI rebreather configuration, and the energy supply for his heating from the Secraft Ghost DVP.
This was the first exploration worldwide with a dual DPV at such a great depth in a cave and a real step forward in Xavier’s explorations. It has opened to him new possibilities to come back soon to explore the ‘Goul de la Tannerie’ even further – and very soon the ‘Goul du Pont’ as well.
The ‘Goul de la Tannerie’ starts at a depth between 5 and 11 m depth over a distance of 700 m. Then, a zone of shafts begins, taking the diver down to -90 m. After that, the last shaft descends relentlessly to the deep gallery and then continues horizontally.
The goal of the project
The goal of this project of study and exploration in the ‘Gouls de Tourne’ that Xavier is pursuing since 2002, is to find the junction between these 2 systems: ‘Goul du Pont’ and ‘Goul de la Tannerie’, resurfacing in a park in the centre of Bourg St Andéol in the south of France.
But above all, Xavier wants to map the drinking water resource of this city, in order to preserve it. The use of the ENC3 navigation console allows him to create a drawing of the cave’s layouts, in order to know their course below the city and their direction towards their supply basin.
The video from Xavier’s exploration, from the start of the well, after the 700m journey horizontally and at shallow depth. Passing by the main explorers of the terminal shaft:
– Bertrand Leger 1983: -113m
– Jacques Brasey 1992: -137m
– Olivier Isler 1996: -165m
– Sylvain Redoutey 2004 -209m
– Rick Stanton 2008: -220m
– Xavier Meniscus 2014: -240m
– Alexander Fox 2017: -241m
– Xavier Meniscus 2019: -243m and the 80m of gallery explored down to -246m
SEACRAFTEQUIPMENT USED IN THE PROJECT
As a final statement from Xavier : “A big thank you to Seacraft for their support and the use of their DVP / dual DPV / ENC3, which allows us to make such explorations!”.