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Cave & Karst Data Visualization

Unless otherwise noted, all courses are based out of Hamilton Valley Field Station, located on the border of Mammoth Cave National Park near Bowling Green, Kentucky. See Logistics page for more information.

June 9-15, 2024

This course focuses on the following:

  • fundamentals of in-cave field mapping and inventory (digital and manual)

  • georeferencing data and use of LIDAR data,

  • digital cartography, and the production of cartographic representations of caves and karst features.


Instruction will be at the beginning and intermediate experience levels. Mornings will include lectures, demonstrations, and instruction on survey technique with a strong emphasis on recording field data and sketching in digital and manual formats. Afternoons will cover in-cave instruction and practice with field data collection, recording of survey and inventory data, and producing representative field sketches of cave passages and features. Evenings will focus on transforming field notes into maps and will cover all aspects of digital drafting and cartographic design . By the end of the course, students will be able to conduct basic field mapping including in-cave sketching, feature inventory, transformation of survey data into line plots including inventory data, construct and digitally draft cave maps, and make overlays of cave/inventory data with digital topographic maps, LIDAR, and Google Earth imagery. Throughout the course, participants will work with the course instructor to produce cave maps and other derivative products from survey/inventory data. Optional: Instructor will work with those students wishing to extend their data to GIS applications.

The course will take place at Hamilton Valley Field Station located just outside of Mammoth Cave National Park. See for additional information about housing. Participants must be in reasonably good physical condition to negotiate the cave passages and surface hikes which are a major component of this course. Much time will be spent conducting cave surveys/inventories in various caves in the area and in producing cave maps from the data. Attendance: Morning class sessions begin at 8:30 am and break at 11:30 am for lunch. Afternoon sessions will begin at 1:00 pm and will typically return from field sites by 5:00 pm. There will be a two-hour break for dinner after which will be instruction on data processing and digital cartography. Participants enrolling for academic credit will be expected to participate in all in-class and field sessions. Participants who participate in the majority of class activities will receive a Certificate of Participation.

Instructor: Dr. Pat Kambesis


Dr. Pat Kambesis received her Master's degree from Western Kentucky University. Her thesis focused on the agricultural contaminant source and transport in caves and karst in the upper Midwest of the USA. She received her Ph.D. from Mississippi State University Department of Geoscience 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 has extensive national and international experience at documenting cave and karst and producing maps and other visualizations of that data. Her current research includes developing methods to better quantify and visualize cave and karst environments, morphometric characterization of hypogene caves and karst in the Western US, and the role and modelling of condensation corrosion in cave development . She currently teaches at Western Kentucky University in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences.



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