Dong Ba 2003 Expedition Detailed objectives

Detailed objectives:


  • Continue exploration of Dong Ba
    • Northeast from Glycogen Chamber
      • Glycogen Chamber is 125m diameter
      • It lies at the north-eastern extremity of the cave
      • A 20 or 30m wide passage leads off to the northeast, aligned with the main trunk to the southwest.
    • South in Bit On The Side
      • Bit On The Side is the southernmost end of Dong Ba
      • It lies 100m directly above part of Qikeng Dong, and contains many leads
    • Try to find route upstream
      • The Dong Ba streamway emerges from a boulder choke
      • There are leads which we believe will bypass this choke
    • Follow strong draught east near Glycogen
      • A 10m wide fossil passage near Glycogen Chamber draughts outwards very strongly
      • Exploration ended at a confusing junction where the draught was lost
      • A climb down and back up should gain a continuing passage the same size - and hopefully the draught.
  • Connect Dong Ba to Qikeng Dong
    • Connection was narrowly missed (by less than 20m) on our last expedition
    • The discovery of Bit On The Side on our final trip gives us a new front heading towards Qikeng Dong
    • Connection would yield a system 920m deep and over 13km long
    • Still a few leads in Qikeng that need to be pushed if we connect
    • Large fossil passages at the far end of Qikeng were not fully explored last time
  • Descend Da Keng
    • 30m diameter sheer-walled shaft
    • Currently explored to -100m, depth potential: 800m
    • Continues with a freefall drop of 6 to 12 seconds
  • Mi Dong, Da Xiao Dong and Dan Wan Dong
    • Three going caves which can be explored at if Da Keng is blind
  • Surface work
    • Higher ground to the south-east is known to contain several entrances


As part of an ongoing collaboration with scientists at the Kunming Institute of Zoology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Zoology in Beijing, we will collect biological specimens in the caves. Since the specimens will remain in China for study and identification, we have been assured that no special permits are required. Thus far this collaboration has yielded a new species of loach (Triplophysa rosa) and an interesting blind spider (we are awaiting verification that it is a new species). This work is particularly exciting in 2003 because the final pushing trip in Qikeng in 2002 found a large population of blind fish which appear to be different from T. rosa. Connecting Dong Ba to Qikeng would make it possible to revisit this population and collect specimens.

Promoting caving in China/training Chinese cavers

Liu Hong and Zhang Fan from the Kunming Institute of Geology will take part in the expedition. Both have SRT and surveying experience, but Dong Ba will be their first deep, alpine-style cave. We will provide training in the necessary techniques and are confident that they'll do well. Zhang Fan, who has been involved in numerous video projects on China Exploration and Research Society expeditions, would like to film the descent of Da Keng to promote the sport of caving in China, but his plans are not yet firm. We have also been asked to write about Tian Xing for inclusion in a Chinese caving manual.

Software development

To meet the needs of our expeditions, we have been adapting existing and creating new software. The scale of our survey projects and the rate at which we are collecting new data means that we place a huge demand on computational tools. In addition to being heavy users of existing and emerging PC based utilities, we have written our own Survex compatible software such that we can process data in the field on Psion palmtop computers. We are developing scripts and patches for existing software to allow the automated integration of GPS and other cartographic data into our magnetic surveys. The need to catalog and publish our findings in a timely manner has led to the integration and development of a variety of backend tools and schema to enable the rapid administration and easy access to the wealth of data we publish online, fast becoming an automated process and an example to other sites. As they mature all our tools will naturally be made available for others to use.