2004 Survey Progress Report

Carroll Cave Survey Project – 2004 Progress Report

Submitted by Bob Lerch, Survey Project Chairman (NSS 45004; CCC 140)

The Carroll Cave survey had its most productive year yet, with just under 22,000 feet surveyed in 2004 (Table 1). The total surveyed passage is now 40,803.9’ (7.73 miles), and the estimated passage length surveyed is 38,326’ (7.26 miles).  We mapped 3125.3’ more in the last 12 months than the previous 14 months of the project. In 2004, we averaged 1830.4’ (0.35 miles)/month compared to the previous 14-month average of 1345.7’/month. That’s a nice 36% increase in productivity. We have mapped 3.25 miles of previously unmapped side passages along with 4.48 miles of re-mapped trunk passage. Figure 1 shows the current line plot with the side passages and major sections and rooms labeled. Figure 2 is perhaps a more impressive way to show our progress, providing a visual comparison between the footage surveyed to date with that surveyed through 2-28-2004.

Since the start of the survey, 50 people have participated, but we picked up only 5 new participants this year (Table 2). Twelve people were Active Survey Participants (ASPs) in 2004, i.e., those people that showed up 4 or more times within the last 12 months. They deserve some special recognition for devoting a major amount of their free time to the Carroll Survey Project, so they get their names bolded in Table 2. Seriously, though, the ASPs are the core of the Carroll survey project, and all of them have in one way or another pushed me to do more and do it better. So, far I’m successfully resisting. As a rough estimate, the surveyors volunteered about 1600 hours of time in the last year. To all who showed up to survey in 2004, “Thanks for your time, and please keep coming back in 2005.” I will continue to offer generous bribes of food, beer, and spirits, but the bottom line is that you gotta want it because Carroll will work you!

Some of the highlights in the last year for me have been the big increase in the number of sketchers, the big increase in productivity, the huge footage days in Carroll River (see below), and the camp trips in August and December. When we started, only a handful of people were sketching, and this limited the number of teams, and, of course, footage acquired. In the last year, we typically have teams in which one person does plan and another does cross-sections. This has been a huge help in speeding up the sketching in trunk passage and contributed to the increased productivity. Other reasons for the improved productivity have been the discontinued use of the Transit, the relative ease of sketching in Carroll River trunk passage, and an increase in our average trip length. Following multiple discussions with more experienced project surveyors, I became convinced that the Transit, which was excruciatingly slow to survey with, was less accurate than hand-held instruments for large surveys because of the greater likelihood of additive errors. So, it was decided in late 2003 to no longer use the Transit for in-cave survey. It will, however, be useful for tying-in radio locations above ground. We steadily increased our trip lengths out of necessity in 2004, with typical trips now in the range of 15-18 hours. Long trips are now a requirement for most anything in Upper Thunder or Carroll River. We will have some shorter trips for a couple of months once we begin surveying Lower Thunder, which will start in 2005.

Early in 2004, our efforts were focused on pushing the far reaches of the UL2 (Convention Hall) side passage and continuing the main Upper Thunder trunk (U Survey). By mid-summer, the U Survey reached the Bone Room, and we started the UL4 Survey. Most of our efforts in July-September were focused on UL4, teasing us with the possibility of breaking under Traw Hollow. After netting a hard earned 1610’ of upper and lower canyon passage, the possibility of getting past Traw looks low but not zero. We have another 1000’ or so of stream level canyon to push before we give up hope. In addition, the UL4 stream, a sinuous but significant tributary (~1 cfs at baseflow) to Upper Thunder River, was observed to have cavefish. Thus, both the UL2 and UL4 streams have been added to the growing amount of cavefish habitat known to exist within Carroll. The U Survey went through the biggest and most convoluted passage we have surveyed so far. At one point, the passage is over 200’ wide and car-sized breakdown is scattered throughout. In most of the passage beyond the Bone Room, the stream is essentially a separate passage, requiring its own survey. We also hit a new right-hand side passage (UR2) near the current end of the U Survey, but we have yet to begin surveying it. In all, we surveyed 9254’ in the Upper Thunder section of the cave in 2004, with just over half of the footage in the main trunk. The U Survey is now about 1.8 miles (estimated passage length) from the Backdoor entrance. UL2 and UL3 are currently vying for the longest side passage (see Table 1) at well over a mile each. Both of them are down to mop-up trips, but they still have several hundred feet or more of footage remaining to be surveyed. UL2, 3, and 4 all rate low on the feet/station index, which is a reasonable indicator of surveying difficulty (Table 1). UL4 is the new misery leader at a mere 20.1 feet/station. Goals for Upper Thunder in 2005 include finishing UL4, finishing the mop-up in UL2 and UL3, beginning UR2, and pushing the trunk passage past the end of the Helwig map and beyond the breakdown barrier.

Overall this year, we obtained more footage in Carroll River than any section of the cave (Table 1), adding 2.25 miles of trunk passage (C Survey) in 2004. We are now within about 500’ of the Mountain Room. We made the most of our limited access, with 3 trips in the spring and 3 in the fall. Sketching at a scale of 1” = 40’, combined with simple passage features and consistently long shots, made for some especially big footage days in October (2639.9’), November (2086.8’), and December (3899.7’). We had our biggest one-day (3200’) and total weekend footages in December, with just three teams leap-frogging in Carroll River trunk passage. At 64.9 feet/station the C Survey has been by far the easiest surveying to date. Goals for the Carroll River section in 2005 include pushing the C Survey to the natural entrance and begin surveying as many side passages as possible. By the way, I would like to dispel the myth that there are 100+ side passages in the Carroll River section. We found less than twenty between the Backdoor up to the current survey. I know of several more near the Mountain Room, but I am sure we will not have anywhere near 100 side passages.

If you are interested in participating in the Carroll Cave survey, please contact me at lerchr@missouri.edu or blerch420@yahoo.com. Trips are the first weekend of the month, unless otherwise posted on the CCC website calendar (http://carrollcave.org/). CCC trips are also announced on the Survey Mercenaries listserv, contact Matt Goska to subscribe (goska@umr.edu).

Table 1. Summary of Carroll Cave survey statistics through December 2004.


Total Surveyed


in 2004

Number of Stations



Upper Thunder

Main (U Survey)




=(b2/d2) \# “0.0” 47.1





=(b3/d3) \# “0.0” 27.3





=(b4/d4) \# “0.0” 31.6





=(b5/d5) \# “0.0” 21.1





=(b6/d6) \# “0.0” 22.8





=(b7/d7) \# “0.0” 20.1


=SUM(ABOVE) \# “#,##0.0″ 28,093.2

=SUM(C2:C7) \# “#,##0.0″ 9,253.9

=SUM(ABOVE) \# “#,##0″  968

=(b8/d8) \# “0.0” 29.0

Carroll River

Main (C Survey)




=(b9/d9) \# “0.0” 64.9

Bear Claw (CR1)




=(b10/d10) \# “0.0” 34.9


=SUM(B9:B10) \# “#,##0.0″ 12,710.7

=SUM(B9:B10) \# “#,##0.0″ 12,710.7

=SUM(d9:d10) \# “#,##0″  207

=(b11/d11) \# “0.0” 61.4


=SUM(B2,B3,B4,B5,B6,B7,B9,B10) \# “#,##0.0″ 40,803.9

=SUM(C8,C11) \# “#,##0.0″ 21,964.6


=(b12/d12) \# “0.0” 35.1

All distance units in feet. Actual survey total; station totals in table add to 1,175 because of common tie-in stations. Indicator of survey difficulty.

Table 2. Carroll Cave survey participants since September 2002.

Dan Austin

Jessie Bebb (5)

Brian Borton

Roger Brown (2)

Randy Bruegger

Greg Buckley

Kim Chiles (3)

Jeff Crews (Spike) (4)

James Corsentino

Ashley Fleming (1)

Andy Free  (1)

Mike Freeman (7)

Bill Gee  (1)

Brian Goertz

Matt Goska (6)

J. Hinesley

Pedgie Heinz

Lawrence Ireland (1)

Dan Isbell (4)

Bill Howard

Jeremy King

Charlie Knight (2)

Robert Kramer (1)

Dan Lamping (8)

Ron Lather

Lorely Lather

Bob Lerch (12)

Andy Lerch (8)

Heather Levy (1)

Tom Lounsbury

Chris McCracken

Ben Miller (10)

Pat Moriarty (sp?) (1)

Jessica Nave

Jeff Page

Tom Panian

Matt Platter (2)

Wayne Pierce

Val Schmidt (1)

Tony Schmitt (3)

Joe Sikorski (6)

Eddie Simmons

Amber Spohn (6)

Jeanna Tennyson

Rodney Tennyson
Carl Wagner

Marsha Walker

Paul Woods

Nick Worden

Rita Worden (10)

50 total participants

(x) = number of survey trips in 2004. Active Survey Participants. New participants in 2004.

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