An Expedition Approach

Surveying caves on expeditions can be different to surveying on your home territory due to time constraints or the fact that you may never go there again.

This is not an attempt to teach surveying but a look at a different approach for expeditions.



Surveying should not be just about producing a map of the cave. It should be more about documentation - recording what the expedition found, not just in line with expedition objectives, but also about recording information which may be useful to researchers and to enable future expeditions to reduce duplicated effort.

The main task is to  produce a good map of each cave with as much relevant information as possible. It should also include writing a description of the cave with photographs if possible.

 In order to ensure that things go smoothly in the field, surveying techniques and methodology should be set out in advance of an expedition. Ideally training sessions should be organised for all team members who will be responsible for surveying, normally that would be everyone.

If it isn't possible to do this in advance, for instance if members are from different countries, then a surveying briefing should be carried out at the start of the expedition in the field. Even in this situation much can be achieved beforehand using the internet.

It is a good idea to have one person responsible for collection and collation of data with an assistant for backup.

The following should be considered during the planning process.

  • What software will be used
  • Who will draw the final maps
  • What maps will be needed
  • What specific data should be recorded
  • What additional data could be recorded if time allows