Explore a Cave without Going Inside

20 May, 2019

Czech scientists have come up with a way to explore flooded cave systems without having to go into them. Their solution: create a three-dimensional (3D) map of the cave.

Trapped Thai soccer players in Tham Luang cave.
Trapped Thai soccer players in Tham Luang cave.

A company called Geo-CZ developed a new tool that uses 3-D technology to map historical and archaeological areas. The Cave Administration of the Czech Republic demonstrated it earlier this month.

Jiri Sindelar of Geo-CZ said, "The input data are not made by individual pictures, but videos. This makes the on-site mapping incredibly faster."

To produce the 3-D images, someone still needs to wear a wet suit, helmet and other equipment before going into the cave. That has to be done only once and only long enough to film it. This is helpful because most caves are underground and can be dark. In addition, caves can be seriously dangerous when they are flooded.

Last year, 12 Thai schoolboys and their football coach were trapped in a flooded cave for 18 days before being rescued.

Geo-CZ used its 3-D mapping system in a cave about 100 kilometers south of Prague, the Czech capital. The cave was discovered in 1863 and opened to the public five years later. In the 1980s, explorers found lower, larger parts of the cave system filled with water. The exploration is continuing.

Sindelar said the new system will make the exploration much easier and the findings more accurate.

Divers can also understand the shape of the cave better when observing it as a whole in the computer model.

Cave specialist Frantisek Krejca noted, "In the 3D imagery, we can really realize the connections...of the whole system. We can get much more information from it."

I'm Jonathan Evans.

The Reuters news agency reported this story. Jonathan Evans adapted the story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

accurate – adj. free from mistakes or errors

cave – n. a large hole that was formed by natural processes in the side of a cliff or hill or under the ground

coach – n. a person who teaches and trains the members of a sports team and makes decisions about how the team plays during games

data – n. facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something

three-dimensional (3D) – adj. having or seeming to have length, width, and depth