Cave Survey and Cartography


Unless otherwise noted or titled, all courses are based out of Hamilton Valley Field Station, located on the border of Mammoth Cave National Park near Bowling Green, Kentucky. Please see the logistics tab for more information about preparing for your course and stay at Hamilton Valley Field Station.

We apologize for any inconvenience, but due to COVID-19 pandemic orders issued by Western Kentucky University and Governor Beshear of Kentucky, we are unable to offer any courses in June 2020. The safety of our instructors and course participants is of utmost importance to us. We hope we can soon return to a world free of COVID-19 concerns, but until then, we feel this is the best decision in the interest of everyone.

June 14-20, 2020

This class covers the fundamentals of in-cave field mapping and digital cartography with a series of short lectures, demonstrations and displays, mapping exercises, and hands-on instruction in digital field mapping,  basic map design and digital cartography. The level of instruction will at the beginning and intermediate experience levels. Instruction on survey techniques will be provided with a strong emphasis on recording field data and sketching both manually, digitally and a combination. Class work will include learning to process survey data, transforming field notes to cave maps using digital cartography and producing basic 3-d models of cave passages. By the end of the course, students will be able conduct basic cave mapping including in-cave sketching, transform survey data into line plots, construct and digitally draft cave maps, and make topographic overlays of cave data with digital topographic maps and Google Earth imagery. Optional instruction will be available on constructing simple geographic information systems using cave survey and inventory data.

Instructor: Dr. Pat Kambesis


Dr. Pat Kambesis received her Master's degree from Western Kentucky University (WKU). Her thesis focused on the karst hydrogeology of caves and karst in the upper Midwest of the USA. She received her Ph.D. from Mississippi State University through research that focused on the study of coastal karst and caves in the Caribbean and northeastern Yucatan Peninsula and on developing methods for morphometric analysis of caves and karst features. She currently teaches at Western Kentucky University in the Department of Geography and Geology. Her current research includes characterization of hypogene caves and karst in the Western US, the role of condensation corrosion in cave development, and in developing methods to better quantify and visualize cave and karst environments.

Instructor: Howard Kalnitz

HJK Surveying.jpg

Howard Kalnitz has been caving since the late 70’s and has concentrated on project caving after graduating from R.P.I with an engineering degree and moving to the Midwest in 1985. There he was introduced to survey and mapping with the Cave Research Foundation. Since then he has participated in various expeditions and has produced maps for caves in many states and countries. He became involved with the Kentucky Speleological Survey in the 2005 and has also been focusing on large cave datasets and geo-referencing of caves. He now serves of the president of the KSS as well as continuing to survey and teach survey and cartography skills.