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Examples of cave maps

The Cartography Salon is an exhibition contest based on the American NSS Cartographic Salon. The below guidelines are the American guidelines slightly modified to hopefully fit in with the Australian cavers.

The Cartography Salon is an exhibition of cave and karst-related maps. There is no restriction on method of presentation and innovative techniques are encouraged. However, the maps should be presented in printed format at the original scale. There will be a 3D category where maps can be presented digitally if such maps are registered. This category will be judged and rewarded separately from the 2D printed category. Judging occurs at the Conference.

No cave map will be reproduced by the ASF without the cartographer’s permission except for display during the conference if the situation arises. Some or all the maps might be selected for digital display in ASF’s journal Caves Australia and social media platforms. This will only happen with the cartographer’s written permission.

The Cartography Salon has four purposes. These are:

• to foster an interest in cave cartography as a technical skill and as an art form

• to allow an exchange of techniques, ideas, and styles among the Society's

surveyors and cartographers,

• to recognize cartographic excellence, and

• to create an interest Conference display that depicts recent or active

exploration and mapping projects nationwide.


Organisation and judging criteria


Before the Conference a submission date will be announced and a submission/registration form will be posted on the Conference website. This is for organising purposes so that we can prepare the space accordingly and make sure that maps can be properly displayed.

Maps can be mailed to the Salon Chairperson or can be hand-carried to the Conference. In addition, maps can also be posted at the Salon solely for display. These maps must be indicated as such in the registration form. Maps can be printed on paper or more durable materials such as canvas or vinyl. The person or organization submitting the map is responsible for printing the map, the Conference organisers will not support the costs of printing maps.

The judges will divide the maps in categories based on the length of the caves. The categories will be: under 100m length, 100-1000m length, over 1000m length. The judges may choose to change these categories to fit in with the number of maps submitted.

Three or more judges will judge the maps according to a judging sheet. Each map will have a judging sheet from each judge. All the judging sheets will be given to the map cartographer at the end of the salon.




Cave Name: All cave maps must have a name. This name should neither be too bold or too hard to locate. Abbreviations should not be used in the cave name.

Obvious Entrance or Connection with the Rest of the Cave: All cave maps must have an entrance or a connection with the rest of the cave. If this entrance or connection is not obvious on the map, then it should be marked and made obvious. If the map is of a section of the cave, then the connection of that

section with the rest of the cave should be made obvious or marked.

North Arrow: All cave maps must have a north arrow. This arrow should point to true north and, if the cartographer wishes, may include a subordinate magnetic north arrow. A magnetic north arrow by itself is not to desired; however, if it is shown—either with or without a true north arrow—a date must be displayed with the magnetic north arrow. The north arrow must be long enough to be useable, and it should not be so ornate that it is useless. The most optimal north arrow includes a true north arrow, a magnetic north arrow, and the date of the magnetic north.

Bar Scale: All cave maps must have a bar scale, and this bar scale must include the linear units. Ratio scales by themselves, such as 1:600, or written scales, such as 1" = 50', are not desired because, if the map is reduced or expanded, then this scale will be inaccurate.

Vertical Control: All maps must have some kind of vertical control. Usually this is shown as either a profile or as vertical symbols. Both methods can be utilized together but vertical symbols alone are not desired. If a profile is

used, it should include a vertical bar scale and it should be labeled as to type (e.g., Projected Profile, Expanded Profile, or Idealized Profile). If vertical symbols are used, the map should be prominently noted as to whether the units are in meters or feet. These vertical symbols should include (as needed) cave elevations, pit depths, ceiling heights, and water depths. In addition, a zero datum should be labelled near the cave's dominate entrance. Instead of the two more-popular methods of displaying elevation, the cave map can utilize contours, either drawn inside or outside the cave passage, or it can use a large quantity of cross-sections, all of which are properly orientated vertically.

Date: All maps must include a date. Features change, both inside and outside of the cave. This date should not be the date of the magnetic north and it should not be a cartographic date. Rather it should be the date of when the cave was surveyed. If the cave was surveyed over multiple years first and last year of survey can be used, for example 2015-2016.

Cartographer or Survey Group: All cave maps must include the cartographer or the survey group's name. Thus, if someone is interested in the cave—be that person a geologist, biologist, rescue expert, or another exploratory group—they can contact the cartographer or the original survey group. Simply put, the cave map is a scientific document, and it should have an author and a date.




Balance and Layout: Does the cave map appear well balanced to the eye? Are some areas of the map blank while other areas are crowded? Did the cartographer make good use of his or her space?

Drafting Technical Quality: How technically correct is the drafting? Are the line widths consistent? Do the lines end and blend well, without blobs of ink? Are the symbols drawn well? Are the symbols correct? Are the outside walls of the cave obvious? Is there a True North Arrow? Is the magnetic north arrow out of date relative to when the cave was surveyed?

Detail Thoroughness: Is there too little detail? Is there too much detail? Does it extend into every passage? Is it consistent throughout the entire map? Is the detail easy to understand or is it confusing? Are the more mundane floor features shown? Is ceiling detail shown? Are conjectural ceilings or walls shown? Does the detail match the legend or the list of symbols utilized? Would a caver be able to use

the map to navigate through the cave?

Vertical Control: How well is the vertical delineated? Has the cartographer adequately dimensioned ceiling heights, pit depths, cave elevations, and water depths. Are there too few symbols to fully comprehend the vertical nature of the cave? Horizontal caves are no exceptions! Is the Profile View large

enough and well centered enough to be understood? Is a vertical scale included with the Profile View? Does the Profile View include the entire cave? How well does the Profile View match the Plan View? All cave maps that use vertical symbols and all maps of caves with more than one entrance should contain a

zero datum. This datum should be a precise, labeled point and should be included on any profile views. Leader Lines to each vertical symbol's exact location in the passage may or may not be utilized.

Lettering: Is the lettering even and consistent? Is it too small or too big? Is it all evenly spaced, both horizontally and vertically? Is the lettering easy to read? Are there unneeded (or too many) abbreviations?

Visual Impact: Does the cartography make the map the cave seem interesting or boring? Overall, does the map look good?




Still other items can be used to enhance the cave map. The use, or lack of use, or poor usage of these items should be considered when the judges assign point values in the various categories. These items include, but are not limited to Site Details, such as geology and surface features; Complex Representations, such as multi-level caves or cave passages; and Imaginative Innovations, which enhance the understanding of the cave.

Cultural Location: This should be included on the vast majority of all cave maps. A few maps, however, because of the sensitive location of the cave, do not include the cultural location. Abbreviations should not be used in the cultural location.

Precise Geographic Location: Some cartographers include this, others do not. It should be remembered, however, that the sole difference between sport and science is good documentation. If the cartographer has not allowed for the map user to somehow locate the cave in the field, then the cave has not been documented in a way that will allow the map user to fully utilize the map. What this means is that some sort of location should be provided. It is possible, rather than place a Precise Geographic Location on the map, to place a state and area code and the club that has conducted the survey. This informs the map user that the survey has been done by a certain Speleological Club and that the club might provide the user with the cave's location, provided the user can authenticate, to the Survey's leaders satisfaction, that the user shares their speleological values.

Cross-Sections: These are extremely important and can often be used to easily determine the relationships of the various cave passages to each other. When at all possible, cross-sections should be included on the cave map. Detail inside the cross-sections should be shown and this detail should match the detail on the Plan and Profile Views. Cross-sections should only be omitted in the most complex, crowded maze caves, and only then after much soul-searching. Maps without cross-sections usually do not score well in the Cartographic Salons.

Cross-sections can either be drawn next to the cave passage or away from the passage and then flagged with letters or numbers. Cross-sections lines should be arrowed to show the direction of view, they should show the horizontal and vertical relationships of adjacent passages. They should be consistent and should not be confused with passage lines or detail. They should not be squeezed in too close to the cave passage, nor should they be placed too far from that passage.

Type of Survey: This is very important. The Australian and IUS (International Union of Speleologie) survey grades should be on the map. If the cartographer chooses not to use survey grades, the map should at least be noted as to its type (e.g. Suunto and fiberglass tape, Disto X, etc.). In addition, loop closure accuracy may be included.

Legend: As many cave map users are not cavers, it is often a very good idea to include a legend with the cave map. All non-standard cave symbols should be explained by or formatted into a legend. IUS and Australian cave map symbols should be used.

Symbols Credit: If there is no legend, then it is good idea to at least note what set of cave symbols were used. IUS or Australian set.

Length and Depth of the Cave: Most cave maps include the length and depth of the cave. The method of measuring length should be noted. The length of caves can be measured by one of two methods, survey or actual passage length. If no method of measure is noted on the map, then it is assumed that the length is the survey length as this has historically been the most common way. The survey length here means the length of the survey legs combined. The actual passage length is the sum total of lengths of all cave passages measured along the longest axis of each passage regardless if the survey line fallows that axis (or centreline) of that passage or not. In other words, the new survey devices available today made it easier for the survey line to not coincide with the cave’s/passage’s centreline therefor the survey length does not always coincide with the actual cave length.

The depth of the cave, referred to as total denivelation is the difference between the elevations of the highest and lowest point in the cave. These may or may not be at an entrance. Most caves will have a positive ‘+’ denivelation and a negative ’-‘ denivelation. The zero point for denivelation should be taken as the lowest point of the highest entrance. The denivelation above this point is positive denivelation. The denivelation below this point is negative denivelation. 

 Passage endings: Passages should be shown as they end. Those passages that became too small for human passage, or are too high, or otherwise beyond the abilities or time of the surveyors, should be shown as continuing. Passages that ended in the cave should be shown by the cartographer as endings, with no passage continuing. The words "Too Tight" or "Too Small" may or may not be used at

the passage endings.

Personnel: It is always a nice touch to say who helped map the cave.

Judging sheet

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