26 July 2008

A Dry Run on Cave Volumetrics

Originally drafted 23 July 2008

Dan viewing into Cueva de Salon. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.

Today, Pete and I had to launch sensors before we could leave for the field. The mapping team left before us, and were going to a large chimney effect cave called “Cueva de Salon.” The mapping team is using this cave to test the new cartographic and volumetric techniques that we developed last night. Knutt wanted a large cave that would be easy to move through and apply these techniques. Obviously, it is better to be able to move around in a larger structure, than to apply new techniques in crawly passage.

John sketching the outside entrance. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.

Once Pete and I arrived, we met briefly with the mapping team, and then we began to deploy sensors at this cave. We had also planned to use this cave as one of our study sites. Unfortunately, there was miscommunication in the field. I had thought the mapping team had pushed all passages of this cave, and they knew the extent of this feature. As Pete and I were deploying sensors, we found an additional passage that opened up into a series of several entrances within a large alcove overhang and then the cave continued for a few hundred more meters as an open canyon with numerous bridges creating small cave-like structures. Consequently, I quickly determined this would not be a good study site. This feature was merely too complex and we could easily use half of our sensors at this one cave!

Christina exploring Cueva de Salon. Credit: Dan Ruby.

So, I decided to pull the sensors we had deployed. It was the end of the day and the mapping team was in the process of heading back to the house as well. Fortunately, this was not a day lost. The mapping team was able to refine and perfect their volumetric and mapping techniques for this project. Consequently, they will be ready to start mapping caves tomorrow. However, we discussed what we had learned from this, and we all feel future communications between the sensor deployment team and mapping team have improved as a result.

Tomorrow the mapping team will go to Cueva Lechuza de Campanario. Pete and I will deploy sensors in this cave, and we will evaluate three others.

Winding down another day in the Atacama. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.

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