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Usage Policy

Guidelines for Surveying in Butler Cave

Here are some guidelines to help make your survey in Butler Cave successful and useful. It's pretty disheartening to have to toss out a set of survey notes because the notes were not useful.

Your survey notes should be able to be understood by a complete stranger long into the future. We have useful and relevant survey notes from the mid 1960s with solid data and clear sketches because the survey team did an excellent job. The contrapositive is also true.

  1. Tie in to known stations: The cave was first surveyed in the late 1950's and early 1960's, and the data from those surveys is no longer used. There are many numbered carbide survey stations found in the cave that are absolutely useless as survey tie-ins. Either get a line plot overlay from the project leader (many are on provided on the lead list), or tie into permanent stations shown on the Les Good maps.

  2. Tie in to multiple stations: Please make all attempts to tie into two or three old stations. This allows the project leader to verify the tie-in by correlating your new survey data with existing survey data. If your survey begins and ends in previously surveyed passage, please do your best to tie in to multiple stations at both ends.

  3. Make a full title page: Please use a separate title page, starting on a right-hand page, so the full names of the survey team, date, cave name, section of the cave, purpose of the survey, instrument information, station marking method, and other information are legible.

  4. Please turn in separate sets of survey notes (with separate title pages) for survey trips on different dates, or when you move to survey a different part of the cave on the same date. If you go back two years later to finish something up, it is a separate survey. Or, if, on the same day you mop up leads in two different parts of the cave, they are separate surveys. For example, even though the Moon Room and the Air Dig are close to each other, they are different areas of the cave with different names. So if on one day you mop up survey around the Moon Room and the Air Dig, you would make them separate surveys with separate title pages. The notes would get filed separately. Here's the reasoning.

  5. Turn in original paper notes: We require original paper notes for all our surveys, so please be prepared to turn in your original paper notes, cutting them out of your book if necessary. Most of us use loose-leaf survey books. If you use stapled books and don't want to cut, you can start by writing in the center of the book (looking at the staples), and "plucking" the top sheet of paper off the staples when you need to go to the next page.

  6. Don't write on the back of something else: Leave a blank page so the first page of your survey notes isn't on the backside of the last page of a different survey, or a survey for a different cave. All the Butler survey notes, trip reports, photos, etc. from each trip get filed into a separate file folder for that trip, so we need to be able to separate the original notes.

  7. Close loops: Close loops whenever possible. With over 17 miles of cave and almost 200 surveys, there is an occaisional bad apple. Closing loops allows us to identify sub-par surveys and redo them.

  8. Don't take original notes back into the cave: We scan all our notes and can print you out copies.

  9. Label each page: Each page should include the date, cave name, and page number. Each sketch page also needs a scale bar and north arror.

  10. Write large: Or at least write a reasonable size. Squeezing the passage dimensions (LRUDs) into one column of a survey page can make the numbers too small to read them unambiguously, specially when one or more of the dimensions has multiple readings.

  11. Use two-row format: Squeezing Dist/Az/Incl and LRUDs into one row makes the numbers small, and leaves no room for corrections or notes to be added later.

  12. Sketch to scale: Please sketch plan, profile, and cross-sections to scale, using a ruler and protractor.

  13. Sketch floor detail: Please sketch in floor detail whenever possible.

  14. Use Decimal Feet and Degrees: Please record data in decimal feet and decimal degrees.

  15. Document LRUD: Please record passage dimensions in Left-Right-Up-Down order.

  16. Paper is cheap: Survey paper is cheap when compared to the costs of gas, food, and a weekend out of your life. Don't scrimp on it. We'll give you a survey book.

  17. Draw Cross-sections: Enough said. We often use a second sketcher with a second book to draw all the cross sections.

  18. Show Tie-ins and stations: Clearly show the tie-ins (existing stations) and your new survey stations on the plan and cross-section sketches. Is each station on a breakdown block? On a wall? On a corner? Station markings often get rubbed off or moved, and these details are keys to recovering stations and verifying tie-ins.

  19. Take Backsights: Do them! Or at least do two front sights. Azimuth and Inclination readings need to agree within 2 degrees.

  20. Document and Flag Leads: Note leads on sketch. Describe the lead (e.g. borehole, air, tight), flag and document the nearest station, and note any needs for gaining access (bolt climb, needs straws, needs rope, etc.)

  21. Properly terminate passage: Clearly note why passages end on your sketch. Too tight? Solid bedrock? Mud plug? Too Low? Breakdown? Formation choke? There's a fine line between one person's termination and another person's lead, and desk analysis may reveal this could be an important passage to push. If you don't terminate your passage on your sketch, it becomes a lead someone else needs to go back and check.

  22. Document Instrument Info: Document the instruments your team used on the title page of the survey notes. Give us your instrument information so we can track it here.

  23. Mark stations with white out or nail polish: A small dot at the station, and a small number neatly painted on the wall nearby will suffice. Flag important stations with flagging tape in addition to the dot and number on the wall. Document the color of your survey markings on the title page of the notes.

  24. Review and clarify your notes after the trip: Please review your notes after the trip and clarify as needed before scanning and handing in your notes. We often do this Sunday morning over coffee.

  25. Scans and Compass or Cavewhere files greatly appreciated: All the survey notes need to be scanned and entered into Compass eventually, so the project leader greatly appreciates scans of your notes and data files in either Compass or Cavewhere format. [If you haven't tried out Cavewhere, it has a great interface for entering survey data, check it out.]

  26. Take backup scans/photos: To assure the data isn't lost, may people use their phone to take photos of the notes right after the trip, to ensure the data can be recovered if the original notes are lost.

  27. Send in your data quickly: This allows the project lead to update maps for subsequent survey trips. You can email scans and data and USPS mail original notes to the address for the project lead (Tony Canike) in the NSS Member's Manual.