Author Topic: Cave surveyor needed for project in Laos  (Read 3641 times)

Offline Ouan

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Cave surveyor needed for project in Laos
« on: March 05, 2006, 01:34:54 pm »
I received this request from an Australian surveyor who needs a cave surveyor for a project in Laos. If you are interested please contact Dennis.

From: aamthai@loxinfo.co.th [mailto:aamthai@loxinfo.co.th]
Sent: 27 February 2006 03:28
Subject: Caves in Laos

Hello there,
 
My name is Dennis Rose. I am an Australian surveyor living in Thailand. On a project that I am working on at the moment in Lao PDR (Laos) one of the tasks that we have to carry out is the survey of a couple of caves. For this we need a person on our team who is experienced in cave exploration and survey.

Our desired timing for the survey of the caves is within the next
couple of months (before the next wet season in Laos), as it is believed that the caves may be (at least partially) inundated with water during the wet season.

One of the main objectives of the survey is to determine whether the
two caves (the entrances of which are on opposite sides of the mountain range/ridge) in fact 'join up' into the same cave system. The 'straight line' distance between the two cave entrances is a bit over 1 kilometre.  Talking with the local villagers, these caves have not been (properly) explored before (at least not in an organised way by foreigners) and have not been surveyed.

I would like to ask if anyone would be interested and available to be involved with our survey team to survey the caves in Lao PDR. If you are interested, please let me know and I will send you more details.
 
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you.
 
Dennis

Tel (Lao Mobile) : 856 202 418518
Tel (Thai Mobile) : 66 1 8132402

Offline Cap'n Chris

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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2006, 05:25:50 pm »
Although this seems pretty straightforward it may be a bit more tricky; expertise on caving in Thailand exists within UBSS & SMCC IIRC and v. high CO2 is an issue in some tropical caves, requiring detection and specialist breathing apparatus.

Offline SamT

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Cave surveyor needed for project in Laos
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2006, 06:16:49 pm »
Quote from: "cap 'n chris"
Although this seems pretty straightforward it may be a bit more tricky; expertise on caving in Thailand exists within UBSS & SMCC IIRC and v. high CO2 is an issue in some tropical caves, requiring detection and specialist breathing apparatus.


Who are the UBSS, SMCC & IIRC.  :roll:

Offline Ouan

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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2006, 06:19:00 pm »
Quote from: "cap 'n chris"
Although this seems pretty straightforward it may be a bit more tricky; expertise on caving in Thailand exists within UBSS & SMCC IIRC and v. high CO2 is an issue in some tropical caves, requiring detection and specialist breathing apparatus.


High CO2 certainly can be an issue, but can be detected with a cigarette lighter or the inability to breathe.  The cost and bulk of breathing apparatus makes it very impractical - there are plenty of other caves to explore.  In Laos I would be more concerned about unexploded ordnance.

I'm certain this is a kosher offer from a firm that has done surveys for coal mines, etc. in Thailand.  Unfortunately I have too much work or I'd be out there myself.

Offline SamT

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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2006, 06:28:01 pm »
I think Batgirl on this forum is from thailand (or at least her parents live out there I think) Maybe she might be able to drum up some support.

Offline SamT

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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2006, 06:30:49 pm »
Quote from: "Ouan"

High CO2 certainly can be an issue, but can be detected with a cigarette lighter or the inability to breathe.  The cost and bulk of breathing apparatus makes it very impractical - there are plenty of other caves to explore.


I think Id rather rely on some detection system (its not too bulky) rather than a fag lighter. It would not be nice to find oneself the wrong side of a cave full of CO2

Quote
 In Laos I would be more concerned about unexploded ordnance.


 :shock:

Offline Ouan

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« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2006, 07:01:10 pm »
Quote from: "SamT"

I think Id rather rely on some detection system (its not too bulky) rather than a fag lighter. It would not be nice to find oneself the wrong side of a cave full of CO2


The drawbacks with the detector we have is
a) they are expensive, over £400
b) although fairly robust they are not water- or caver-proof
c) after 4 or 5 years they don't calibrate properly and need costly servicing.
b) the alarm goes off intermittantly at 0.5% and continually at 1%. This soon gets annoying and flattens the battery.  Most cavers seem to be able to cope with levels around 2-3%, but I usually stop when the detector goes offscale at 5%.

Don't knock the low tech fag lighter - it is also useful for getting leeches off. The fag lighter also fails safe, something a dodgy electronic detector might not do. Another reliable way to detect CO2 is to cave with a 'canary', someone with a lower tolerance to the gas than you, or someone shorter.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2006, 08:13:23 pm »
SMCC = Shepton Mallet Caving Club
UBSS = University of Bristol Spelaeological Society
IIRC = If I recall correctly.

Problem with the fag lighter CO2 test is... it's not much use knowing the air is crap after you've just abseiled into a pit with very high CO2. A recommendation from the UBSS 2000-01 expedition was to pre-rig all pitches with Z-rigs to ensure quick evacuation of unconscious abseilers in the event of poor air in pits.

CO2 is much more prevalent in tropical caves. Also tropical caves can have very low O2 levels as well... Normally 21% in air, in 2001 SMCC measured O2 as low as 13% in one cave.

Although it looks like I'm trying to put a spoiler on this I'm only trying to be helpful by highlighting stuff which isn't in the "normal" European caving list of forseeable hazards.

Offline Brains

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« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2006, 08:40:51 pm »
Get a proper flame safety lamp - very similar to a Davy Lamp (miners safety lamp). When fuelled with ?koselene the size, shape and colour of the flame will tell you a lot about the gas composition of the air. The details are heavy going but I could put you in touch with people who use this method on a semi regular basis if required.
Ordnance? Let it lie, just let it lie, especially anything that might contain phosphour (belted ammunition - tracer, flares, etc). In the heat a lot of the bang may only be fertilizer by now, but the Phosphour will still hurt  :shock:

Offline mudmonkey

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« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2006, 09:04:27 pm »
Brains - those Davy lamps are better than nothing. However, I think they're generally considered more useful as ornaments than as safety kit. They need a fair bit of training to use well, and as soon as you knock them, go out.

Should add that I have only used one once myself (it didn't spot  any gas, we didn't die - must have been OK....) and that this is simply repeating what I have heard others say about them....

Offline Ouan

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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2006, 07:32:32 am »
Quote from: "Brains"
Ordnance? Let it lie, just let it lie, especially anything that might contain phosphour (belted ammunition - tracer, flares, etc). In the heat a lot of the bang may only be fertilizer by now, but the Phosphour will still hurt  :shock:


http://www.laoscaveproject.de/uxo.htm

A short note on the danger of unexploded bombs in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. This site also has some good general information on caves in Northern Laos.  The French have found some long caves in the Khammouane area, Central Laos.

Offline paul

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« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2006, 07:36:06 am »
Quote from: "cap 'n chris"
Although it looks like I'm trying to put a spoiler on this I'm only trying to be helpful by highlighting stuff which isn't in the "normal" European caving list of forseeable hazards.


Like snakes, scorpions and other wildlife. Even aggresive hornets in one cave entrance (in Thailand)!
I'm not a complete idiot: some parts are missing!

Offline Brains

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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2006, 09:56:20 am »
Flame Safety Lamps - spoke to my friend last night who has done a lot of work with both electrical and flame gas detectors, and in addition to saying the electrical ones may give false reading due to climatic effects (?we were in the pub and I didnt write that bit down...) he gave me the following comments to post:

Ok, to detect low levels of methane ("Fire Damp")requires some training but
lo O2 ("Black Damp") is a doddle. Set the flame to 1cm ish in fresh air -
it'll go out at 17%ish O2(assuming its filled with colsalene)& be pretty
resistant to knocks. A good rule of thumb is "if it goes out, so do you"!
Remember that in most cases O2 deficient air is likely to be heavier than
normal air, so advance with the lamp held low & carefully. A fall could be
fatal as your head will then be in the worst of it - you could be
unconscious before you manage to stand back up!
If the lamp does go out, retire as steadily as possible - what you don't
want to do is stir up the low lying black damp so you breath more of it.
A small mirror fixed at 45deg to the lamp side is handy, so you can lower
your lamp down pitches & watch the flame from a safe position, before
descending yourself.
IMHO the best lamp for this is an Eccles Protector No.6 without the magnetic
lock. It's designed to run on Colsalene but will give good results for black
damp (NOT fire damp!) when run on lighter fuel.
Hope this is not too long to post!!

Offline Cap'n Chris

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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2006, 10:03:53 am »
What do cave surveyors earn? I imagine their hourly rate is affected by professional liability insurance premiums and if the work is overseas this must surely complicate matters.

Also, if the site is previously uncharted, any risk assessment or work method statement documentation must be hard to complete too.