May 8, 2013 at 10:52 pm

‘How Do You Find a Cave You Can’t See?’

How do you find a cave you can’t see? How do you stop a potential landslide? Ohio University students found a way.

“Ever wish you could go somewhere truly unexplored?” asks Neha Gupta, a Geological Studies graduate student who produced Hunting Cave Blowholes with an Infrared Camera. “Finding unexplored cave passages is one way to truly go where no one has gone before.

“How do you find a cave you can’t see? In cold weather, caves blow out hot air. We used a Tamarisk 320 to detect these pockets of hot air, called blowholes,” said Gupta. The Tamarisk 320 Cave, located in Greenbrier County, WV, was dug open March 8 and surveyed by Gupta and Dr. Greg Springer, Associate Professor of Geological Sciences.

Both the cave blowholes and the potential landslide signals were invisible to the naked eye—outside the visible light spectrum. But a new infrared video camera quickly showed the cave blowhole and the landslide hot spot. Ohio University geology students show how they did it in new videos, Hunting Cave Blowholes with an Infrared Camera and Infrared Image of a Landslide.

“I worked with two geology students on entries to a video contest sponsored by DRS Technologies for innovative uses of the Tamarisk 320 thermal imaging camera. The company provided us with a free camera and DVR. Now the students are inviting the campus to view their YouTube entries,” said Springer.

“What if we had a tool that could accurately predict where landslides were going to occur,” asks Daniel Hermanns, the undergraduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences who produced Infrared Imaging of a Landslide. “Such a tool would allow proper measures to be taken to remediate the potential slide, thus saving lives and damage to property.

“The Tamarisk 320 thermal imaging camera can be used to detect spots of higher water saturation, a key component that contributes to landslide activity. Using the Tamarisk 320, researchers would be able to identify spots of intense saturation, a ‘red flag’ of a landslide, before any actual damage is done,” she said. Her video uses a local Athens, Ohio, landslide on an engineered hillside after a March 2013 rain.


  1. I think i have a cave in my front yard. I live at the bottom of a hill and when it rains all the runoff from the street flows into a hole in my front yard. Its alot of water and has no problem sucking it all up. You cant see into it because its always backed up with pine needles and debris. I live close to a large lake and we are on top of an aquifer. The lake has been rumored to have a cave system inside of it. I think there is some sort of a cave system though for it looks like a small stream is just being sucked into the earth when it rains real hard. And when we get snow it melts around the hole no matter how much has fallen. I think it would be cool to find something hidden in plain site all the years

  2. Force a camera into that sinkhole, that’s how I found my cave

  3. Brett Carman says:

    I have some property in the NW corner of Adams County here in Ohio. There is a big hill, approximately 110′ in elevation, in the center of the property. Its the highest point in the area, kinda like a big mound. There are historical records of a cave on the back side, just below the top, of the hill. Its wooded but on top is a 2-2 1/2 acre field. When we have a heavy rain, water runs out of a washed area on the backside. The previous property owner had done some dozer work, clearing the field of brush and saplings. They pushed the brush and some dirt around different areas of the field, creating mounds. I believe they pushed material in and over the opening to the cave. I would love to have somebody from a university or such to come out with GPR or do a electro resistivity test. Any leads or information would be very much appreciated.

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