MSS Cave Map Archive Update & Cave Map Stats 2015

Titans of Cartography or Our Last Name is Survey, Statistics and Damned Statistics!

Recently, I was tasked with bringing the MSS map archive up to date, which included consolidating all the sources of maps and inventorying everything to make sure that no files are missing and that we preserve the best quality documents for the future.  When I started this summer, there were 3543 map records in the database. 

Today, as of August, 23, 2015 we have over 4400 digital (jpeg) map documents or records; however, this is not the number of caves we have mapped because some caves have many documents and sometimes multiple versions by different authors.  Crevice Cave, for example, has 25 documents that are primarily an artifact of how the very large original documents were cut into pieces before scanning (without any overlap).  One task we need to consider is re-scanning these documents as a single document so that there are no gaps at the edges or rather no seams at all.  I have “restored” many of these cut up panels as a single composite and the seams are generally evident.  Multiple documents also result from separate black and white, color, biological (restricted) and archaeological (also restricted) versions of the same map.

There are approximately 3300 caves that have at least one map with length attached to them, either through survey or by estimating from the map itself.  Each cave gets only one length for this analysis.  Of those with length attached, we can say that we have over 370 miles of passage mapped.  By far, the greatest length of passage is of course in Perry County which has about 28% of the 370 miles. Of the top 5 longest caves (except Carroll Cave), 4 are in Perry County which help to put Perry County over the 100 mile mark of passage length. Shannon County with our second highest cave count and highest mapped cave count, also has our second highest footage of mapped cave, about 9% of the 370 miles.  Pulaski County, which for a long time had the most caves in the state, has the third longest sum of cave length and has 8% of total length.(Spike Crews presented a nice talk on the significance of Pulaski at the NSS Convention in July of this year.)  When you look at mapped cave count and total mileage for a county, you’ll find that Perry County has an average of 1821 feet per map (obviously slanted by the very long caves), Shannon only has an average of 381 feet per map and Pulaski has 1286 feet per map.   This is just one of those damned statistics:  Marion County with 3 mapped network/maze cave systems has an average cave length (for its 8 mapped caves) of 6175 feet per map.

Thinking of length, we have less than 70 caves with surveyed passage over a mile, while almost half of the mapped caves with footage are less than 100 feet long.

There are 5 principal authors (Titans of Cartography) who have over 100 cave maps (not counting variations like color or biology) to their name:  Scott House (561), Bob Taylor (252), Ben Miller (233), Mick Sutton (193) and John Schwartz (126).   Tex Yokum missed by 4 caves; Jonathan Beard by 14.  Besides Beard and Yokum, 6 other authors submitted more than 50 maps (ordered by number of maps):  Ken Thomson, James Potts, Paul Hauck, Lang Brod, Dan Lamping and Dwight Weaver.  Rounding out to the top 15 authors would include Jim Cooley, Don Baker and Eric Hertzler (last 2 tied at 15th).  Almosthalf of these authors are actively mapping today.  If you think of significant contribution to cartography, you also have to consider the authors of the top 5 longest caves, each over 10 miles of surveyed passage:  Crevice Cave with cartography and updates by Paul Hauck; Berome Moore Cave by Tex Yokum (and remapping by S. House); Rimstone River and Mystery System by Joe Walsh; and the ongoing mapping of Carroll Cave by the Carroll Cave Conservancy.

There are over 70 counties with maps, about half of these counties are 50% complete.  That is, 50% of their accession numbers have maps.  Surprisingly, there are 5 counties that have every cave mapped, which is really driven by low cave counts and short caves, 59 accession numbers and 59 maps in the 5 counties.  With only 10 more cave maps, we could map 100% of 4 more counties.  Of course, our able cave finders might also keep all these counties growing in cave count…just takes a little footwork.

Of the 32 counties where a single author submitted more than 10 maps, several authors championed (published the most in) more than one county:  S. House (6 counties), B.Miller (5), R.Taylor (5), M.Sutton (3), J.Potts (2) and DonMyers (2).Another 10 authors championed a single county with more than 10 maps are alphabetically:   Matt Beeson, L. Brod, Charles Coatney, M. Fuller, George Kastler, Adam Marty, Chad McCain, J. Schwartz and D. Weaver.  Although not the single biggest producer in a given county, significant contributions were made by a second place author (and his map count):  T. Yokum (70 maps), D. Lamping (36), S. House (33), K. Thomson (31), Ron Martin (26), James Corsentino (23), Kris Hartman (20), L. Brod (16), E. Hertzler (16) and J. Beard (12, 2nd place in 2 other counties).

I want to thank all of those who continue to contribute and who have contributed to the cave archive.  And I also have to mention those support teams who pulled tape and took measurements, since without them (including me) we would not have the map archive that we have today.  Errors of omission and of commission are mine, sorry.

And a reminder:  the archive is collecting lots of digital archives including: scanned field notes, Walls data, Adobe Illustrator files, Xara files, etc.  

Ken Grush  

August 2015







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