Components of a Cave Map (and How To Read It)

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In order to navigate a cave, you need to have a map. Without one, itג€™s nearly impossible to find your way and stay oriented. A map also makes tracking your progress much easier. You can use the map to mark the locations of any passageways you discover, or even mark the exact spot where you found the first crystal deposit in the system.
But why should you care about maps? Well, for starters, most old caves have maps as part of their original exploration. It was much easier for them than it is for us today because there were no GPS receivers and no digital compasses back then (if weג€™re being honest). They could locate every passageway in the cave with little effort. In fact, many explorers still use those same methods today with pretty good results!

How do cave maps work?

There are a few different kinds of cave maps, but the most common is called a “solution” map. The solution map is made up of a series of symbols that represent passages and chambers in the cave. These symbols are drawn to scale, so the size of each symbol corresponds to the size of the chamber or passage it represents.
The solution map comes from a process known as topographic surveying. By using two markers and carefully measuring the distance between them, you can determine which way is North for your cave system. Then, by drawing lines on your map from these two markers to other markers in different directions, you can create a map!

What are the different parts of caves?

A cave is the manifestation of a system of passages within the earth’s crust, which is usually only accessible via one entrance. A cave system may be natural or artificial.
Caves are often found in limestone, chalk, basalt, and other soft sedimentary rocks. They can also be found beneath the surface of Earth’s crust in areas where these types of rocks are common (such as certain parts of the United States), or on land that has been eroded away due to natural events such as floods, landslides, and volcanic eruptions.
Typically, caves can be divided into three different categories:
-Vertical Caves – Caves at right angles to the face of a cliff or hill with steep drops on all sides
-Forceful Caves – Caves created by a river cutting through the ground
-Pothole Caves – Similar to Forceful Caves but formed by a depression in the ground instead of a river

What is a map of a cave called?

A map of a cave is called a “cave map” because they were originally drawn in caves. It’s an important component of the exploration process because it allows explorers to determine where they are in the system.
The map also has information about the cave, like its length and how far you have gone. It also tells you what type of terrain you are walking on and what natural formations may exist in the room. Additionally, the map may show some important landmarks that help you orient yourself such as “the long shaft” or “crystal passage.”

How do you survey a cave?

There are three primary methods of surveying a cave. The first is the surface survey, which involves mapping out the location of passages within the cave that can be accessed by climbing up to them. This is often done with binoculars and a compass so that you can find your way back to the entrance if you have to come back outside after exploring a new passage. Another method is digging down, either with pickaxes or shovels, to map out a large passage from above ground level. Finally, thereג€™s the aerial survey, which involves flying in an aircraft over the terrain surrounding the cave system to map out its length and breadth for future exploration or for navigation purposes.

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Beth Kent

Beth Kent

Hi, Welcome to my caving world!
I've been caving for the past 23 years, and through these years, I have learned so much about caving life and its techniques. I genuinely believe that caving is one of the most fascinating activities out there, and if you haven't tried it yet, you should!

About Me

The exploration of natural or artificial caverns from casual trips to caves with well-established trails to expeditions into remote and largely unexplored caverns is a great passion for me for the past 15 years. Sharing it here with you is my new hobby so I hope  you enjoy :)

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