Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 64 Number 1: 63-70 - April 2002

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Using Geographic Information Systems to Develop a Cave Potential Map for Wind Cave, South Dakota
Rodney D. Horrocks and Bernard W. Szukalski


The cave potential map concept was originally developed to address management concerns, but other uses rose to the forefront, including the likely maximum boundaries of Wind Cave, the potential surveyable length of the cave, and the possibilities of a connection with Jewel Cave. In addition, this method may provide means to judge the exploration potential for any section of the cave and to evaluate hypotheses regarding the cave’s origin. The cave potential map was based on structural geologic factors, surface contour maps, cave survey data, surface blowhole locations, and hydrologic maps. Geographic information systems (GIS) were used to combine these data with GIS-generated triangular irregular networks, slope and aspect, orthophotoquads, a park boundary map, and land ownership maps. By combining these datasets and deriving buffers and overlays, it was determined that the current cave boundaries cover 1/10 of the total potential or maximum likely extent of the cave. The likely maximum potential boundaries are 97% inside of the current boundaries of Wind Cave National Park. Based on passage density, the length of the Wind Cave survey could range from 400-1760 km. Since the current 166 km of survey represents no more than 40% of the minimum predicted length of the cave or as little as 9% of the maximum predicted length of the cave, a tremendous amount of surveyable passage remains in the system.

This page last updated: 10 October, 2002 9:08
Web Author: Jim Pisarowicz