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The History and Provenance of the Jamaican Cave Register



The Jamaican Cave Register, as presented in the database found on these pages, has its origin in a compilation of descriptions and positions first collected by Ron Read of the Jamaican Caving Club in the 1960ís. The initial typewritten card index was converted into a punch card file by Alan G. Fincham and thusly became not only searchable, but also capable of being amended and manipulated in a fashion that most of us associate with modern-day databases. This important first computer readable compilation resulted in the birth of what we now know of as the Jamaican Cave Register.


Ensuing work done by Alan G. Fincham, and members of the JCC, along with visiting caving clubs, added to this collection and resulted in the 1977 publication of the first edition of Jamaica Underground. This important book represented the combined efforts, and thousands of hours spent underground, of the original explorers and surveyors of the caves and sinkholes of the island.

A major revision of the work was undertaken by Mr. Alan G. Fincham in the last decade of the 20th century, and resulted in the second edition of Jamaica Underground, published in 1997, that provided us with an even more valuable resource for the monitoring and exploration of the over 1000 systems described in this wonderful book.


Towards the end of the millennium, Guy Van Rentergem, a Belgian caver who has been active in Jamaica, undertook the typing of the positional data into a dbf format that was subsequently made available on his website on the internet. This database is the underlying work upon which the Register found on this site is based.


The file created by Mr. Van Rentergem was then reworked for biological purposes by Dr. Susan Koenig, of the Windsor Research Centre, with some of the unavoidable incorrect entries removed, and made available to R. S. Stewart, the author of this page. The version of the register presented here has been truncated to list only physical characteristics, i.e. positions, depths etc.


Recent efforts have been concentrated upon the addition of caves missed in the previous years of Jamaican cave exploration, positions for other entrances to systems already in the Register, and the refinement of the geographical coordinates by the use of the Global Positioning System. All additions to the received database have been indicated by the use of a double asterisk, (**), and the Eastings and Northings given have remained untouched. It should be noted that the Eastings and Northings are based on the Jamaican Metric Grid and use the JAD69 datum. The GPS coordinates are given in WGS84, latitude and longitude.


The Jamaican Cave Register is presented here to all who might find value in it with only one proviso: This work is not supplied to serve as an aid to the commercial exploitation of the caves of Jamaica. The biological importance and delicacy of these wondrous underground places must be considered in all visits to these systems. The fragile beauty that has been created over many thousands of years can be destroyed in a very brief time. When using this database, please keep their preservation as the top priority.

R. S. S.

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