world's 2nd longest cave

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world's 2nd longest cave

Postby SDcaver » May 19, 2009 12:58 pm

I see that on Bob's long and deep cave list that Sistema Toh Ha is now the second longest cave in the world. What's the scoop?
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Re: world's 2nd longest cave

Postby Anonymous_Coward » May 19, 2009 4:58 pm

Guess we all knew this was coming. Must have gotten the local politics worked out.

Congratulations guys!

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Re: world's 2nd longest cave

Postby SDcaver » May 20, 2009 10:17 am

As it turns out, it was simply a typo! The cave is not that long after all.
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Re: world's 2nd longest cave

Postby Anonymous_Coward » May 20, 2009 1:36 pm

Was it a typo on Bob's list or in the data he was given?
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Re: world's 2nd longest cave

Postby chac » May 20, 2009 9:57 pm

The length of Sistema Toh Ha as stated in Bob's last update was indeed an error. I advised him last night of this error after I received an email about his listing. I updated Bob quite some time ago on the lengths of caves in Quintana Roo. I try to be very careful with this update. Many caves in the area change lengths (often within days), while absorbing other smaller caves.

Should you choose to blame me for the typo, that's fine. I'll accept responsibility for this if it was my error. If you want to blame someone else, that is OK too.

As of this date, Sistema Toh Ha has a total length of 27796.8 meters (91197 feet).

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Re: world's 2nd longest cave

Postby Anonymous_Coward » May 21, 2009 9:47 am

No blame necessary. Just curious that's all.

I know we get a little crazy with the records and statistics up in South Dakota. It's just that we tend to take pride in our length records. Like you, we also try to be real careful with updates. We have worked hard to make sure that our cave lengths are accurate and have integrity. We don't count perimeter surveys and are careful to exclude footage when appropriate. We also try to pass another cave's length by a substantial margin (miles usually) before we announce that we have overtaken it.

Because of this, we try to get others on the long cave list to hold to the same standards. Unfortunately, some do not. It really comes down to the honor system in most cases. Marc and I (among others) have made it sort of a hobby to try and fact-find when claims come out (usually from Europe) about new second-longest caves. And, as much as I'd like to say that I don't care about the rankings, I guess I have to admit that I do! I like the big caves best.

Anyway, thanks for the update on Quintana Roo. What can you tell us about the status of the two big underwater caves there that probably WILL be the second-longest cave once they are connected?
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Re: world's 2nd longest cave

Postby Jeff Bartlett » May 21, 2009 2:10 pm

jaa45993 wrote:We don't count perimeter surveys and are careful to exclude footage when appropriate.

I am being tangential here, and thus threaten to veer this thread off-topic, but: quite a few "big cave" projects (more than most realize, I think*) have not properly excluded the footage from redundant surveys, splay shots, surveys that follow the walls of a large room, and so forth in determining a "countable" cave length total. It is thus commendable that the "second longest cave" status has been earned by a legitimate figure, and that those behind the figure are diligent to insure its continued legitimacy.

* and I don't care to name names here
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Re: world's 2nd longest cave

Postby chac » May 22, 2009 10:31 am

Sure, I’d be glad to give a quick synopsis of the longer Quintana Roo underwater caves. You can also find more information on the web site. I usually do monthly updates, so one is due very soon:
http://www.caves.org/project/qrss/qrss.htm

As of today, the five longest caves in Quintana Roo are (in meters):

Sistema Ox Bel Ha 180038.7
Sistema Sac Actun 170998.2
Sistema Dos Ojos 62252.0
Sistema Toh Ha 27796.8
Sistema Actun Hu 24912.8

Sistema Ox Bel Ha has the potential to grow further, but breaking out of its existing pattern of development into distinct new cave areas is problematical. It has some geographical boundaries to contend with (the Caribbean Sea, a large bay with extensive mangrove areas, a large fracture zone, etc.). Ox Bel Ha and Sac Actun are about 5 kilometers distance from their closest points. There are five explored caves between them. At this date though, no one (I am aware of) is searching for a common passage between those caves.

Sistema Sac Actun has a far greater potential to grow. The cave parallels the coast for nearly 12 kilometers; there are many areas/leads to have a better look at on its western (inland) flank. A connection to Sistema Dos Ojos is also quite possible. Last year the explorers were within less than 10 meters from a connection (stopped by solid rock and breakdown). They are working in another connection area that’s being quite cooperative. The chances for a connection do look promising between Sac Actun, Dos Ojos, and other smaller caves.

Sistema Aktun Hu also has numerous possibilities, in fact the team exploring Aktun Hu has added a few kilometers of new survey this week. I’ve yet to receive their new data, but I’ll get it in the next few days. A connection to the Nohoch Nah Chich section of Sistema Sac Actun is also looking more feasible.

I agree that there can be instances where the length of a cave can be overstated, although one would expect that splay shots, room perimeter surveys, and redundant surveys would be excluded from the final length total. The cave length/depth figures that QRSS reports are from raw cave survey data that explorers share with the Survey. I do review the data, so it is fairly easy to spot any errors or questionable data (included in the overall cave length). I'll also agree that when a shorter cave overtakes a longer cave by just a few meters, the margin is pretty slim. But, it is still the current surveyed length (and this usually produces more exploration in both caves).

I think it is great to have such a rich area for underwater cave exploration in this area. We are also finding that dry cave exploration in this area is quite fertile. Some of these dry caves become important as connections between separate underwater caves that end at sumps within the dry caves. Who cares if they are filled with water, air, or ice cream? They are still caves, large or small, and all of us are very fortunate to be able to explore them.

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Re: world's 2nd longest cave

Postby Anonymous_Coward » May 26, 2009 12:18 pm

Thanks Jim!

It sounds like Ox Bel Ha and Sac Actun are not as close to connection as the rumor mill had led me to believe. However, it certainly sounds like the potential for the world's second longest cave is still there in the not so distant future.

Happy surveying to all, whether in air, water, or ice cream!

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Re: world's 2nd longest cave

Postby chac » May 26, 2009 10:08 pm

Hi Andy,

Thanks for your note, there are a lot of possibilities to investigate in the caves of Quintana Roo. Explorations in this area continue to uncover a lot of new caves (and resulting survey data). The smaller caves get swallowed up by the larger caves quite often, especially if they are full of ice cream. It can be quite a blend of flavors, depending on your tastes.

Nope, there's not a 365+ mile cave in QRoo that's looming in the very near future. As for a second-longest cave, I am certain that all of us will see more growth in the area's dry and wet caves in the coming years. Let's just see what happens as explorers have their fun (and disappointments) in exploring the area's caves. After all, this is all part of exploration...

Jim
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