Wind Cave Radio Survey
In June of 1984, electrical engineer and amateur radio enthusiast Frank Reid attended the National Cave Rescue Commission seminar held at Wind Cave National Park. After an intensive one-week training session he left, vowing to return with his equipment and expertise. In January of the following year, plans were made for Wind Cave to have its first complete radio survey.
The word "radio" is actually misleading. The equipment used was not the type of radio with which most people are familiar. Generating conventional radio waves with the power to penetrate more than a hundred feet of rock would require prohibitively large antennas. The device used at Wind Cave, designed and constructed by Frank Reid, made use of what is known as magnetic induction. The transmitter, which required two people to carry, was taken to the desired cave location by cavers. When activated, it generated a magnetic field which was detectable on the surface with the use of a special receiver. By utilizing the known properties of magnetic fields, it was possible to pinpoint the area on the surface which was directly over the transmitter. Carefully measuring the vertical angle of the field as it emerged from the ground allowed Frank to give an accurate estimate of depth. In all, 25 rooms from throughout the cave were located.
The radio survey of Wind Cave answered many questions. It helped us understand exactly where many parts of the cave were located in relation to surface features and developments. It also helped us determine the depth of these areas. But most importantly, it will help the park produce a more accurate map of the cave. A careful surface survey between many of the location sites was performed by Dennis Shreves and several of his students at Kansas Tech during the spring of 1986. The data from this project eventually answered such questions as: "Is the large room north of the Club Room (know as Club Room II or Club Room North) really offset from the Club Room as the map shows?" and "How close are we to a connection in the Disappointment Chamber area?" It appears the map was inaccurate in both of these areas.
Last updated: April 10, 2015