How many known caves in each state?

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Postby Teresa » Apr 18, 2007 4:41 pm

Aaron Addison wrote:Okay, it looks like the list should include each State's definition(s) of a cave.

AA


Ok--how do we get everyone in a state to agree on what a cave is? :doh:
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Postby hewhocaves » Apr 18, 2007 6:11 pm

Teresa wrote:
Aaron Addison wrote:Okay, it looks like the list should include each State's definition(s) of a cave.

AA


Ok--how do we get everyone in a state to agree on what a cave is? :doh:


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jersey doesn't have a 'definition' of what a cave is other than 'a natural cavity enterable by an average person' (see Curl for a discussion on 'average person' and lord knows who on a discussion on the term 'cavity'.)

But I can think of a few caves in New Jersey where you are out of the twilight zone in 25 feet, much less 50 feet. And I'm reminded of Durham Cave in Pa, where you could have gone back 200' and still be in the twilght area - before most of it was quarried away. And what about dead bottom pits? Take those out and whoops! you've deflated TAG's numbers tremendously :grin:

If we want to talk about cave systems or significant cave lengths, Bob Gulden's list of caves 1 mile or greater is as good a resource as any.
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Postby Caverdale » Apr 18, 2007 8:26 pm

In the Four Corners area where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona share a common corner, there is a physiographic region called the Colorado Plateau. The rocks are mainly non-soluble sandstones, etc. Limestone is almost non-existent. In this area are almost uncountable cavities that are more than 50 feet deep. Hundreds of them have houses, and even complete villages built behind the drip line. Thousands more cavities of equal dimensions were not occupied by the Indians for one reason or another. I remember being in one large shelter at stream level, now covered by Lake Powell, that was at least 250 feet deep. If you put an arbitrary qualification of a cave as any cavity over 50 feet deep anyone of these 4 states can qualify with major cave areas in the east for the most caves. I am unaware that any of these 4 states count these shelters, however, in their lists. Where do you draw the line? Define what a cave is that can be used in all states equally.
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Postby ian mckenzie » Apr 18, 2007 9:07 pm

How 'bout a definition of 'at least 500m deep'? That's the only way my region's gonna beat yours... :-)
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Postby Aaron Addison » Apr 18, 2007 9:44 pm

I really don't care how each state defines "cave". The definition will simply accompany the number.

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Postby junkman » Apr 18, 2007 10:17 pm

From the great state of Virginia:

Latest Virginia State Report (3/18/07):

Reported Number of Caves: 4378
Miles of Surveyed Cave Passage: 498
Longest Surveyed Cave: 118,272 feet (22.5 miles)
Deepest Surveyed Cave: 1263 feet (0.24 miles)

Numbers listed above are from the Virginia Speleological Survey's Website.
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Postby steelwool » Apr 19, 2007 1:31 am

Omega is over 23 miles long so the longest Surveyed Cave in Virginia isn't 22.5 miles. ;)
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Postby batrotter » Apr 19, 2007 6:09 am

Indiana's definition of a cave is 25 feet long or 20 feet deep.

And again, Indiana has about 3200 caves.
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Pits With No Leads

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Apr 19, 2007 8:30 am

The reason the TN Cave Survey picked the depth of 30 feet deep, was to have a cut-off on what pits to include that had no cave passages at the bottom. Obviously all length and depth requirements are arbitrary.

Again, hind-sight is 20-20, but we would probably have been better served to have made the cut-off for pits at 50 feet deep. There are little 30-50 foot deep holes everywhere here.

I'm sure no one had a clue back in the 70's that those definitions would let us end up with over 9,000 caves.

Certainly, to me, the most interesting list that the TCS publishes is the list of caves over 1-mile long. Now those are caves !!!

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Postby George Dasher » Apr 19, 2007 9:26 am

You have to understand that the different cave surveys are numbering caves so that they know where the caves are, and can keep an individual record for each cave. That's a big reason why each survey has a different defination of a cave.

The surveys are not numbering the caves to have a "total number." That is just a secondary (or third) purpose.

We have a dead-bottom pit that is 15 or 20 feet long. No water; no air. But it is right next to a major road, and it's been discovered about a trillion times and has about eight names. This is a cave with a number, because it needs to be recorded in the database so people quit dropping it and renaming it.

And caves that have been published and then quarried away should be in the database. How else is the database user going to know that the cave is now gone? (and as a sidebar: I can't see the sense of keeping two databases to resolve these kinds of problems, if problems they are...)

So, please keep in mind that the cave surveys number the caves for an entirely different reason that coming up with a total number.

Which means the caving community is going to have to live with the different definations. Plus I don't want to have to go back through WV's database and redo everything to TN's criteria.
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Postby Spike » Apr 19, 2007 4:29 pm

The number of caves recorded in Missouri as of Feb 2007 was 6210. The number changes almost daily.

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Postby Ozymandias » Apr 19, 2007 5:40 pm

It's already been mentioned a couple times, but the list put together by Bob Gulden is located here. It includes any cave with a length over 1 mile. Just to copy and paste from the site, gives the following ranking:

1. Tennessee (189)
2. West Virginia (132)
3. Kentucky (129)
4. Alabama (90)
5. Virginia (79)
6. Missouri (64)
7. Indiana (62)
8. Hawaii (44)
9. New Mexico (29)
10. Florida (26)
11. Arkansas (25)
12. Texas (24)

The rest have under 20 caves that exceed 1 mile in length. The average number per state ~ 21 caves, and the median number per state comes in an at a very low 5 caves. 15 states don't even qualify for the list.

Georgia (15)
Oklahoma (14)
California (14)
Colorado (12)
New York (12)
Pennsylvania (11)
Arizona (8)
Washington (8)
Montana (7)
South Dakota (7)
Utah (7)
Wyoming (7)
Illinois (5)
Kansas (5)
Alaska (4)
Idaho (4)
Iowa (4)
Minnesota (3)
Nevada (2)
Oregon (2)
New Hampshire (1)
North Carolina (1)
Ohio (1)

I actually hadn't really looked at this before. Very interesting. I had no idea that Missouri had so many caves (of course, I had to check Wikipedia to remember where Missouri was in the US). On the other hand, I'm equally surprised that North Carolina has so few! With the number in VA and TN, I kind of thought the rock (and resulting caves) would be similar before hitting sandy South Carolina.

:question:
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Postby Scott McCrea » Apr 19, 2007 6:52 pm

Ozymandias wrote:I'm equally surprised that North Carolina has so few! With the number in VA and TN, I kind of thought the rock (and resulting caves) would be similar before hitting sandy South Carolina.

Unfortunately, the good limestone stops just west of the TN/NC line. There are a dozen or so limestone windows containing maybe 50 or so caves in NC. Most of the caves in NC are in granite--fissure and talus caves (cracks in the rocks and voids under piles of rocks). The one cave in NC with over a mile of passage is Bat Cave--a granite fissure system which is or was the longest such cave in the world.

SC has fewer caves. I can't remember the exact count, but I think it's close to 500 (?). There are granite fissure caves in the Upstate and small limestone caves by the coast.
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Postby Don Feathers » Apr 19, 2007 7:28 pm

I'd wonder how many unfinished surveys there are that are over a mile. I know of one more in TN. that has over a mile surveyed, but not turned in to TCS yet. That would put TN. with at least 190 caves over a mile. The Omega System is at 24.2 miles the last time I saw the info. Any more?
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Postby Scott McCrea » Apr 19, 2007 8:21 pm

Don Feathers wrote:Any more?

Interesting question. I bet TN would be well over 200. I know of 3 more that have incomplete surveys and have not been turned in to TCS.
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