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INTERIOR SURVEYS OF MAMMOTH CAVE

Mammoth Cave National Park was established in 1941 to protect the unparalleled underground labyrinth of caves, the rolling hilly country above, and the Green River valley.  Visitors have toured the subterranean labyrinths of Mammoth Cave dating back to 1816.  Since the establishment in 1941, ongoing study and exploration have shown the cave system to be far more complex than ever imagined and the park hosting a broad diversity of species living in specialized and interconnected ecosystems.


DDS ENGINEERING, PLLC worked with HDR Engineering, Inc, The National Park Service, and The Mammoth Cave National Park on a survey of the cave trails within Mammoth Cave itself.  Some of the trails DDS surveyed include Historic, Gothic Avenue, Frozen Niagara, Violet City Lantern Tour and Grand Avenue totaling roughly 10 miles of cave trail surveying.


The cave conditions range from large open areas to extremely narrow and small passages, from ceiling heights ranging from over 40 feet to only 2 feet in height  (“Tall Man’s” Misery), trail widths from 100 feet to one foot in width (“Fat Man’s”  Misery); elevations changes of over 140 vertical feet. Numerous low ceilings, winding, narrow paths and extremely narrow bridges across “bottomless pits”, and, of course, the challenge of working within a protected and tremendously historic environment, gave this project tremendous hurdles to overcome.


DDS began the survey project by first researching current, archived, and historic records for any data available regarding previous surveys in and around the cave.  NGS, Park Service records and previous survey records were recovered for locations of existing Kentucky State Plane datum and coordinate monumentation in the area.  Tours of the cave and trails being surveyed were scheduled with Park personnel to familiarize DDS survey crews and personnel with the project limits and differing cave environments.  


Once the researched data and cave tour information had been compiled and assimilated, DDS crews were deployed to perform field reconnaissance and field topographic survey work inside and outside the cave.  Upon completion of primary control, the task of extending the survey control from the surface into and through the cave was undertaken and achieved.  The survey crews then proceeded to survey and map the expanse of the cave detailing the cave floor, cave ceiling, walls, formations, lighting, handrails, steps, bridges, switches, trails, mines, historic markers and USGS monumentation within the cave.  Throughout the field phase of the project, and upon completion of the fieldwork, the survey data was downloaded, checked and office calculations performed.  The topographic survey was graphically detailed in a drawing of the cave and survey with a one-foot contour interval and numerous spot elevations identifying cave floor and ceiling elevations, trail widths, planimetric and cave formations within the limits of the survey.  The drawings, survey data, project photos, and survey report were assimilated and bound for issuance and presentation to the client.

Project Location

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Client

Mammoth Cave National Park

Dates

2007-2008

Project Type

Surveying/Mapping

Departments Involved

Surveying

Rural/Urban

Rural

Project Management

HDR, Inc.

Project Manager(s)

Don Pedigo, PLS

Principal-in-Charge

Dennis D. Smith, PE, PLS

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