2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 161-2
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM


FUTRELL, Mike, Christiansburg, VA 24073, gis@karstmap.com

Numerous disciplines and end users beyond the traditional recreational caver seek better geospatial information depicting cave resources. Recent and ongoing advances in electronic devices and software applications offer a new paradigm to the cave surveyor. However the hostile environment of caves, the limited financial resources of most cave surveyors, and increasing technological sophistication places limits on widespread adoption.

Recent availability of laser measuring devices offering distance, bearing, and inclination with Bluetooth and storage capability allows the surveyor to collect framework data at a rate that is faster, denser, and more accurate. A variety of tablet devices can be used to record and display the measurements and present a platform for drawing and annotation. A few projects are able to use professional laser scanning equipment, but with this comes the corresponding point cloud challenges.

The most common cave survey software packages are in active development with new features regularly added. Newer programs offer improved workflows and export formats that offer a greater flexibility. Most popular cave survey packages offer some modeling and GIS capabilities, but real visualization and analytical advantage come by integrating dedicated modeling and GIS software into the workflow.

GIS style data collection apps are now available for cell phones and tablets. Customized pick-lists can be created for inventory in the cave. These apps can be used in conjunction with onboard or Bluetooth GPS units for feature collection when above ground. Photos and videos can be a major component of a cave representation, providing a walk-through experience.

Small quadcopter drones are being used inside and outside of caves with photographic and scanning technologies. Researchers have demonstrated holographic models in the lab. 3D printed models are starting to appear. Toward the cutting edge, inertial positioning and sonar has been successfully used to chart underwater passages.

Cave representation is expanding beyond the confines of a traditional paper map as has occurred in other resource and infrastructure sectors. The exact look of the resulting possibilities depends on goals and resources. Perhaps the greater challenge is distributing and archiving the data sets for future reference.