The Cave Data Validation Group has been very busy over the past year. We have had several tasks before us as we endeavor to get the cave files “caught up.” We inherited several types of information:
1. New cave reports that needed to be validated, assigned numbers, and entered into the database.
2. A huge stack of corrections, comments, and other changes to the present data.
3. An even bigger stack of “problems.”
The new cave reports were generally the easiest to deal with. We look up the location, examine the available information and, if appropriate, assign a new number and enter that data into the computers. Sometimes we find that a reported “new” cave is already in the files. Sometimes we find other problems that were not apparent until we looked at the reports available in an area. Sometimes we refer the report to someone, usually the reporter, for more information.
The corrections we have worked through, spending a huge amount of time. Many times we find that the “corrections” are not correct. Sometimes we have to look for more information. Usually the corrections are correct and are made in the data.
The “problems” range from real, live new caves that previously had slipped through the administrative cracks, to long lists of location improvements, to maps without locations, and all sorts of other problems. Many of these we have solved through researching the matter and/or contacting people who would know more about the situation. Some problems may never be fixed because the people who did a map sans location, for instance, are no longer involved in caving.
The leads range from real leads which might as well be in the database (sometimes they include exact locations!) all the way down to caves reported to be “near Pineville”. (Most of McDonald County is near Pineville!) Some of these leads are actually in the data but really amount to only leads because the locations are so vague and there is no description.
As we have worked our way through these various problems we have discovered legions of errors in the data and the files. We are slowly fixing these. One of my favorite examples is the case of the Drop Caves in Barry County; there are three caves at the same location called “Drop Cave”, “Drop Cave Shelter”, and “Drop Cave and Shelter”. At least two of them are the same cave. We are fixing all of these as we enter the data.
A lot has been done in getting the files into the databases. Numerous people have entered information on counties into the data. We are busy integrating these data sets into the main data set. This takes time and precision. In the last several months we have had numerous counties integrated: Douglas, Laclede, McDonald, part of Pulaski, much of Perry, and parts of Barry and Christian. In addition we integrated a revised Ozark Riverways data set (300 caves) and are trying to get the Department of Conservation data integrated as well.
Substantial changes made to the data, such as name and number changes and new caves, are logged and provided to the DGLS as a record of such changes being made in the data. Over 50 new caves have been added in the past year along with several deletions, name changes, alternate names, numerous county and topo corrections, owner updates, and literally hundreds of location improvements.
Help us out! There is plenty of work to go around.