I n f o r m a t i c s
                     union internationale de spéléologie
                             No. 4  October 1994

This is an ASCII version of a printed document. For a local ASCII copy, print it to a file. Go to: Contents.

| Newsletter of the UIS Informatics Commission (UISIC).       |
| President & Editor:  Peter MATTHEWS                         |
| 66 Frogmore Cres., Park Orchards, Victoria 3114, Australia. |
| Tel.      +61 (3) 9876-1487 (home)     9287-2333 (work).    |
| Fax:              9876-2013 (home)                          |
| Email:   matthews@melbpc.org.au                             |
| The aim of UISIC is to encourage and facilitate the         |
| systematic collection and responsible use of cave, karst    |
| and related data on an international basis.                 |

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Yes, UISIC is still alive - very much so. However I do
apologise for the long delay since the previous edition of the
Bulletin: my time has been fully occupied with the urgent task
of getting the PC version of the Australian Karst Index
database into production. This is still not ready, however I did
not want to delay the Bulletin and the updated contact list any

On the other hand, UISIC will benefit greatly from this devel-
opment because the Australian system is deliberately being
designed to be readily adaptable for multi-lingual
international use. It is also being used as a 'testbed' for UISIC
draft standards for field definitions and an independent data
interchange format. These proposed UISIC standards will be
issued for comment at the earliest possible time.

It is frustrating not to have some concrete material for UISIC
to issue yet, but hopefully the next edition will see this
situation improved.

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The Editor finally has an Internet email address. This has
greatly speeded up the handling of correspondence and the
transfer of computer files.

If you have an email address, please advise the Editor by
email. Unless you advise to the contrary, future editions of the
IB can then be send direct to your emailbox, speeding delivery
and saving the expense of photocopying and postage.

The Editor's Internet email address is:


This Internet connection for UISIC has been kindly provided
by the Melbourne University Geography Department who are
doing significant karst research, and are interested in the work

In addition, the Editor is setting up a "World Wide Web
(WWW) server" on Internet to provide online access to UISIC
information, documents and programmes. A WWW
document is a "hypertext" document where highlighted words
or phrases are linked to other documents which could be in
any other WWW server around the world. Selecting the
highlighted word makes the connection and displays the
linked document. This technique can enable easy access to
related information and files regardless of their location.
UISIC's server is still being developed, but if you have a
WWW browser you can already connect to the present stage


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UISIC items at the Beijing UIS Congress included a paper
describing the Australian Karst Index database, poster papers
showing how the karst data interchange system works,
proposals for an expanded speleological subject classification
system, and live demonstrations of the Australian database
and karst data interchange programme.


As stated above, most UISIC initiatives are waiting for the
Australian development to reach production stage later this
year. It is a co-operative effort where UISIC produces designs
to suit international usage, then these get put into the working
system where any weaknesses can be revealed. This means
that when the draft proposals are issued for voting upon by
UISIC members, it will be known that they actually work.

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Field definitions

A major part of the Australian work has been the
development of a multi-lingual field definition system. This
will be developed further by UISIC and then the proposed
field definitions database will be issued on a floppy disk (or by
Internet) to those interested for comment and return.

After the basic set has been agreed, these will be added to on
a continuing basis. Experts in the the various speleological
disciplines will be invited to take responsibility for proposing
and maintaining further fields in their respective discipline.
Yuri DUBLYANSKY has volunteered for Hydrothermal
Karst. Any volunteers for other subjects?

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Field identifiers

The UISIC draft standard for numeric field identifiers which
are related to the field's subject code has been withdrawn. It
is now clear that subject codes may change, which would
cause serious problems for a field identifier. It is therefore
proposed that field IDs be simple numeric integers unrelated
to anything else, and that a field's subject be described solely
via one of its attributes.

Data transfer format

An interim programme is operational and was demonstrated
at Beijing. This will be completed and adapted for UISIC use
after approval of the transfer format.

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Speleological Subject Classification

An extension of the UIS Speleo Abstracts classification
system was on display at Beijing. This needs some minor
changes before circulation for voting. However a group has
recently advised that they want to put some serious effort into
improving this scheme. Stay tuned.

Database software

UISIC expects to have an inter-national adaptation of the
Australian software available in due course. Naturally it will
embody UISIC's field definitions, codes and data transfer

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Anders LINDÉN of Sweden has provided an article for the
third country in our series "Karst Informatics in ...", with
translations by Tomas ANDREASON and Christopher
KRAFFT. Thanks Anders, Tomas and Christopher! We also
have a country report for the next edition. If you want to
volunteer for the one after that, please contact the Editor.
Only about 500 words are needed.

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The last two editions of the Bulletin, and the contact list, have
been kindly sponsored by the Karst Research Institute in
Slovenia. We now need an institution to sponsor the next two
editions and the contact list. If your institution can justify
helping the work of the Commission in this way, please
contact the Editor. We need the photocopying and posting.
The Editor will supply the "camera-ready" paper masters and
the pre-printed sticky address labels.

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Brief news items about cave and karst informatics or
documentation from around the world are welcome!

Great Britain

The National Caving Association has decided to set up a
National Cave Register. The co-ordinator is Dave IRWIN,
Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset BA5 3BP, Great

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Apart from the development of the Karst Index software
mentioned above, work has also been proceeding on
establishing "Data Use Agreements". A first round of
comments on this tricky subject has been invited and cons-
olidated. The co-ordinator is Peter ACKROYD, 384 Canning
St, North Carlton, Vic 3054, Australia.

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The UISIC deficit from early unsponsored mailouts is still
being carried by the Matthews family budget (UIS provides
no support). The aim is to get UISIC back into the black with
enough left over to cover administrative postage for a year or
so. If you have not yet helped, the suggested amount is USD
5-00 for a person, or USD 10-00 for an organisation, or the
approximate equivalent in another international currency. To
minimise disproportionate bank charges, the suggested
methods of transfer to the Editor are:

o     credit card, using the form below, or equivalent.
o     banknote, suitably disguised in heavy paper.
o     international postal money order made out to "Peter
      Matthews" (money orders made out to a person rather
      than to an organisation attract much smaller charges at
      this end!)

| UISIC Contribution:   Person:         USD  5-00        |
|                       Organisation:   USD 10-00        |
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| Circle one :         VISA               MasterCard     |
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| Name on card: .......................................  |
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No.3 in a Series
                                              Anders LINDÉN, SSF
                                 (Translated by Tomas ANDREASON)

Sveriges Speleolog-Förbund, SSF, is the national speleological
association in Sweden. The members are mostly individuals -
around 400 at present - and there are also a few local clubs.
SSF publishes the magazine "Grottan" (=the cave).

As an introduction, a few words should be said about the
conditions for speleology in Sweden. There is limestone in
small areas only: on the island of Gotland, in the mountain
regions along the border to Norway, and in minor areas in the
rest of the country. Because of this, the number of karst caves
is small, though they are the largest caves. Of the just under
2000 known caves, only some 250 are karst caves. Much more
common are caves in boulder heaps and tectonic fracture
zones. The longest cave of this type is almost 3 kilometers.
We also attribute great importance to the historical
perspective; minor caves with a length of only a few meters,
but with associated legends, are registered just as well as
kilometer-size karst systems.

Work on a database of all the known caves in the country was
started by the SSF in 1985. The project became possible when
the SSF succeeded in receiving sufficient funding from a
number of county administrations. The working group
formed for the project decided at an early stage that we were
going to go with the mainstream development in the computer
market. It was therefore a natural choice to purchase an IBM-
compatible PC (which at the time cost some USD 7000 in
Sweden) and use dBase software. This foundation has proved
very useful, and gives us great flexibility. Twice a year, we get
together, 10-20 people, and work with entering new and
updating existing data. We use up to 10 PCs in parallel, and
data is then transferred to the main computer. In between
these meetings, the database is continually maintained.
Changes and registering of new caves can also be made on an
external computer; a diskette is sent to update the main

The objective in compiling the database is to produce
extensive catalogs of Swedish caves. At present, only Part I
has been published, Part II is likely to be out during 1994. We
estimate that the complete series will comprise six volumes,
each of approximately 300 A5-size pages  (A5 is ca. 6 by 8
inches). From dBase, a simple text file is created. The text file
is imported to a word processor, Word for Windows, where
a layout is generated with a program. Final editing is then
done manually on the word processor. In this way, we can
produce a manuscript that can be directly used for printing.
Cave survey maps are not stored in the database at present;
survey maps, area maps and tables are added to the
manuscript from the word processor.

Each cave is given a unique national registration number,
which is a pure sequence number with no geographical
significance (i.e., the number says nothing about where the
cave is located). A cave record consists of some fifty fields.
The number of fields tends to vary over time, as we
continually adapt the database structure to our needs. All
except three of the fields contain information of such kind
that knowledge of the Swedish language is not necessary to
use it, e.g. grid coordinates, map designation, length, accuracy
of length figure, and information on where a survey of the
cave is archived. The three text fields are in Swedish, and give
plaintext descriptions of i) where the cave is located, ii) a
description of the cave and iii) history, legends etc. about the
cave. These  text fields supplement the information from the
other fields, but they are not essential for finding the cave, or
for getting information about length, depth, etc. Today, it is
also possible to locate a cave without use of a topographic
map, by using a GPS receiver.

A literature database is connected to the cave database. The
literature database contains information on publications
where a cave has been described. In parallel with the work to
maintain and expand the database, new software to handle the
database conveniently and efficiently is continually being

Cave locations are given as national grid coordinates, accurate
to within 10 to 100 meters. The national grid is printed on
most topographic maps in scales from 1:10000 to 1: 1 million,
and on many road atlases.  For the 1:10000 and 1:50000 scale
topographic maps, the designation of the maps on which a
cave is located is stored in the database.

In addition to the production of catalogs, the database is used
for various other purposes, such as excursion planning,
statistical analysis and summary lists for areas for which a
catalog has not yet been published, as well as providing
information to nature conservation authorities. The database
is also used for storing tips about caves, from literature,
locals, maps, etc. The database thus also aids in the finding of
yet unregistered caves. The database information is available
to all members of the SSF at a small fee, but in practice, some
restrictions apply.

During the last few years, we have begun work on collecting
information from visits to karst areas in the mountains. The
mountain areas are vast and more or less uninhabited areas,
mostly above the tree line and usually far from roads. In these
areas, it is often difficult to know if an area has been
investigated by someone or not. The new information base is
meant to aid in the finding of new karst caves. At present,
collection of information has started, but it is yet to be
decided whether the information should be stored on a
computer, or be noted on maps only.

An SSF working group currently handles overall computer
issues. This group is to look more generally on on the use of
computers within the SSF, e.g. the use of geographic
information systems (GIS), digitized maps, GPS and other
techniques which could make our work easier and more

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Dritte Artikel zu diese Frage
                                            Anders LINDÉN, SSF
                                   (Christopher KRAFFT Übers.)

Sveriges Speleolog-Förbund, (SSF, Verband Schwedischer
Höhlenforscher) ist die nationale Organisation der
Höhlenforscher in Schweden. Zumeist sind es individuelle
Mitglieder, gegenwärtig ca. 400, und einige lokale Gruppen.
Der SSF gibt die Zeitschrift "Grottan" (=die Höhle) heraus.

Einleitend etwas über die Voraussetzungen für die Speläologie
in Schweden: Kalkstein gibt es nur in kleineren Gebieten in
Schweden, d.h. auf der Insel Gotland, im Gebirge entlang der
Grenze zu Norwegen und auf kleineren Flächen in übrigen
Teilen des Landes. Die Anzahl von Karsthöhlen ist deshalb in
Schweden gering. Diese Höhlen sind andererseits die größten
der vorhandenen. Von den fast 2000 Höhlen, die bekannt
sind, sind nur etwa 250 Karsthöhlen. Typisch und in großer
Anzahl sind dagegen Höhlen in Blockansamlungen und im
Bereich tektonischer Kluftzonen. Die längste Höhle dieser Art
ist nahezu 3 km lang. Wir legen auch großen Wert auf die
historische Perspektiv; kleine Höhlen mit nur einigen Metern
Länge aber mit davon geknüpfte Sagen werden genauso reg-
istriert wie kilometerlange Karstsysteme.

In 1985 begann der SSF eine Datenbank über alle bekannte
Höhlen zu erstellen. Das Projekt wurde möglich, da es dem
SSF gelang, Zuwendungen von einigen Provinziallandtagen
und Bezirksregierungen zu erhalten. Die Arbeitsgruppe, die
für diesen Zweck gebildet wurde, beschloß in einer frühen
Projektphase, dem Trend auf dem Computermarkt zu folgen.
Es wurde deshalb ein IBM-kompatibler PC (der damals etwa
7000 USD in Schweden kostete) mit dBase als Software
gekauft. Von dieser Grundidee hatten wir bereits großen
Nutzen aufgrund einer großen Flexibilität. Zweimal pro Jahr
treffen wir uns, d.h. 10-20 Personen, und arbeiten an der
Eingabe neuer und der Aktualisierung bereits vorhandener
Daten. Dabei benutzen wir bis zu 10 PCs parallell und die
Dateien werden dann in den Stammcomputer übertragen.
Auch zwischen diesen Treffen wird die Datenbank kontin-
uierlich gepflegt. Änderungen und die Registrierung neuer
Höhlen können auch auf einem externen Computer
vorgenommen werden. Eine Diskette wird dann für die
Aktualisierung der Stammdatenbank eingeschickt.

Der Hauptzweck der Pflege der Datenbank ist das Erstellen
ausführlicher Kataloge über schwedische Höhlen. Bisher ist
davon nur Teil I publiziert worden. Teil II kommt
warscheinlich 1994 heraus. Wir schätzen daß die komplette
Serie sechs Bände von je etwa 300 Seiten in A5-Format (14,8
x 21,0 cm) umfassen wird. Von dBase wird dafür ein einfacher
Textfile erstellt, der in ein Schreibprogramm, Word for Wind-
ows, für das abschließende Redigieren importiert wird. Auf
diese Weise können wir druckfertige Manuskripte
produzieren. Die Pläne der Höhlen werden gegenwärtig noch
nicht im Computer gespeichert. Deshalb werden dem
Manuskript Höhlenpläne, Übersichtskarten und Tabellen

Jede Höhle bekommt eine nationale Registriernummer. Diese
wird aufeinanderfolgend vergeben und hat keinerlei
geographische Bedeutung. Jeder Datensatz umfaßt etwa 50
Felder. Die Anzahl dieser Felder ist variabel, da wir die
Datenbankstruktur kontinuierlich unseren Bedürfnissen
anpassen. Alle Felder bis auf drei sind von einem Typ, der
keinerlei Kenntnis der schwedischen Sprache bei einer
Nutzung erfordert, z.B. Koordinaten, Kartenblatt, Länge, die
Genauigkeit der Längenangabe und Informationen darüber,
wo ein Höhlenplan archiviert ist. Die drei Textfelder sind in
Schwedisch und beschreiben a) die Lage der Höhle, b) die
Höhle selbst und c) die Geschichte der bzw. Legenden über
die Höhle. Diese Textfelder komplettieren die übrigen
Angaben, sind aber nicht erforderlich, um die Höhle zu
lokalisieren oder Daten über Länge, Tiefe, Schwierigkeitsgrad
usw. zu bekommen. Wenn man über einen GPS-Empfänger
verfügt, ist es gegenwärtig bereits möglich, eine Höhle ohne
eine topographische Karte zu lokalisieren.

Zur Höhlen-Datenbank gibt es auch ein Literatur-Datenbank.
Diese enthält Informationen darüber, wo die Höhle schon
früher beschrieben wurde. Parallell zur Arbeit mit der
Datenbank wird auch neue Software laufend entwickelt, um
die Datenbank komfortabler und effizienter zu nutzen.

Die Lage der Höhle wird in Bezug auf das nationale
Koordinatennetz mit einer Genauigkeit von 10 bis 100 m
angegeben. Das nationale Koordinatennetz befindet sich auf
den meisten topographischen Karten in Maßstäben von 1:10
000 bis 1:1 Million, und auch auf vielen Autokarten. Die
aktuellen topographischen Karten im Maßstab 1:50 000 und
1:10 000 sind in der Datenbank verzeichnet.

Außer als Basis für den Höhlenkatalog wird die Datenbank
z.B. für die Planung von Exkursionen, für statistische
Analysen und Zusammenstellungen über Regionen, über die
noch kein Katalog existiert, sowie zur Unterstützung der
Naturschutzbehörden benutzt. In der Datenbank werden auch
Hinweise über Höhlen gespeichert, die aus der Literatur, von
der einheimischen Bevölkerung, aus Karten usw. stammen.
Die Datenbank hat also auch eine große Bedeutung für das
Lokalisieren bisher nicht bekannter Höhlen. Die Datenbank
ist prinzipiell für alle Mitglieder des SSF gegen eine kleine
Gebühr zugänglich, aber in der Praxis gibt es einige

In den letzten Jahren haben wir begonnen, Daten über
Karstgebiete im Gebirge zu sammeln. Die Gebirgsregionen
sind ausgedehnte, zumeist unbewohnte Gegenden. Sie liegen
hauptsächlich über der Baumgrenze und sind oft weit entfernt
von öffentlichen Wegen. In diesen Gegenden ist es oft
schwierig, zu erfahren, ob ein Gebiet bereits untersucht wurde
oder nicht. Diese neue Datenbank soll als Hilfsmittel dienen,
neue Karsthöhlen aufzufinden. Gegenwärtig haben wir mit
dem Zusammenführen von Daten begonnen, aber wir haben
uns noch nicht entschieden, ob diese Informationen im
Computer gespeichert oder nur auf Karten vermerkt werden

Im SSF werden gegenwartig allgemeine Computerfragen von
einer Arbeitsgruppe verfolgt. Diese Gruppe soll generell den
Nutzen von Computern innerhalb des SSF einschätzen, z.B.
das Nutzen geographischer Informationssysteme (GIS),
digitalisierter Karten und Höhlenpläne, der GPS und anderer
Techniken, welche die Arbeit erleichtern und effektiver
machen könnten.

Correspondence to:
Anschrift des Autors:
Anders LINDÉN, c/o Sveriges Speleolog-Förbund, P.O. Box
16013, S-720 16 Västerås, Sweden.


Site: Peter Matthews