An Expedition Approach - Data Organisation

Data organisation will depend on circumstances. Most expeditions now take laptops, printers and maybe scanners.

The most important thing is data integrity. A computer crash can result in many hours of data entry having to be repeated. Backups are essential. Multiple laptops are a good idea.

The raw data should always be preserved, mistakes and all. Many people use loose leaf survey books so that yesterday's data is not at risk by taking it back into a wet cave today. Where bound survey books are used it's a good idea to scan or photograph the pages after each trip and store them on as many pen drives and laptops as possible. This also applies to loose leaf.

Even when one person has sole responsibility for survey data it's always a good idea for every team member to take a copy of the raw data home with them so that, in the case of data disasters, the original data is available somewhere.

A good method of data organisation can be seen at

I use Therion and my data is organised along the lines of the Mulu Dataset but my directory structure is as follows

system.therion - folder/directory for the cave system

cave.therion - folder/directory for the cave - index file for all scraps and maps

survey.therion - folder/directory for survey - therion data file for survey

survey.th2 - scraps and maps for survey

resources - folder/directory for documents pertaining to survey


survey notes


other relevant docs

output - folder/directory for output documents of the survey


surveyList.html - list of entrances, caves, leads etc.

survey.3d - survex 3d model

survey.kml - Google Earth


survey - ESRI database folder

any other output files


... etc.

output - folder/directory for output documents of the cave


... etc

 output - folder/directory for output documents of the system

These structure are contained within folders for country and region.

Note: Names in bold are replaced with the names of cave system,cave, survey