The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 52 Number 1: 1-15 - June 1990

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Thirty Years of Mapping by the Cave Research Foundation
Michael R. Sutton


The modern era of cave mapping at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, originated with the exploration and mapping of Crystal Cave in the 1950's by William Austin. Austin recruited National Speleological Society cavers, who incorporated as the Cave Research Foundation with the purpose of mapping and studying the caves of the Mammoth Cave region. The project assumed enormous proportions as the major caves of Flint Ridge became integrated into the world's longest cave, and as Flint Ridge, Mammoth Cave, the River System, and Roppel Cave became integrated into one gigantic system. The world's longest cave requires the world's largest and most complex cave mapping project. As techniques, hardware, and mapping slowly evolved to cope with the extraordinary demands, CRF expanded its boundaries by incorporating with the Guadalupe Cave Survey and later with the Lilburn (California) Survey. The local expertise developed to meet the peculiar problems of mapping Carlsbad Cavern and Lilburn Cave in turn influenced styles and techniques at Mammoth Cave. The Ozarks of Arkansas were the scene of a CRF mapping project and this led indirectly to the present phase of highly detailed mapping at Mammoth Cave, initiated by Missouri mappers. The present status and likely future trends of CRF cave mapping are discussed.

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