Showing posts from January, 2020

Missing People Map

Sometime around middle to late November of 2019, I started getting tagged in posts on Reddit and Facebook where a map purported to show a correlation between missing person cases and caves. The two maps in question were of terrible quality in both content and image quality (so very much JPG compression). Somehow these maps managed to capture the public's attention for several weeks. In fact, more than two months later I am still being asked questions about the map. What follows is a critical analysis of the maps from both a cartographer's perspective, as well as a caver's. Origin Where did each image come from that comprised the map? The top image is titled " North America Cluster Map " and is produced by the Canam Missing Project / Missing 411. I cannot comment on the methods used to produce the map since they aren't stated. For this reason I am immediately suspect that this is conveying real information. I'll touch on why the form of this ma

The Patient

We cavers get pretty emotional about rescues. The kind of emotional that finds a group of 40 people from at least three different states happily atop a windy and frigid mountain in White County at night in the dead of winter. We are busy with tasks. Rope must be rigged. Paths must be cleared. We must be trained on how to use a haul system. Inside the cave people are shaving rocks to widen the passage. Cavers are placing bolts to assist with moving the patient. A medic has rappelled and climbed to him and administers medication to ease the pain. Hand warmers are placed on him. He is cold from having been underground, and unable to move for so long. He hurts and is weary, but he holds a deep strength that all here know and admire. Here is a place where normal people become heroes. Normal people learn the complex art of cave and cliff rescue and apply that to help their fellow humans. Normal people volunteer their time to their local rescue group. We wait for the order “Slow

Secret Cave

Secret Cave lies on the Albert and Ethel Ogden Nature Preserve. It is owned by the National Speleological Society, and managed by a team of members including myself.

Capshaw Cave

Much of Capshaw Cave looks like the above image; subway tunnel passages following meanders of a cold underground river. The floor of the cave is generally gravel, sometimes clean washed and scalloped limestone, sometimes tires and trash. The urban nature of the cave has left it largely devoid of the kind of life one would expect to find in a wet cave of this size. You will find no cave crayfish, no southern cave fish, and no bat species that call Capshaw Cave home. Today I am assisting TTU geology professor Evan Hart with data collection in the cave. Banks of sediment left behind from floods tell stories to those who listen. Evan's tools include a shovel, plastic siding, toilet paper, and tape. With the "U" shaped plastic siding he removes cross sections of sediment. Looking at the cut he dug with the shovel it's clear there is a story. Finely laminated alternating beds of sand and silt seem to show periods of higher energy and lower energy. The bigger story wil