Tourism and show caves
Tourism and show cavesTourism and show caves
Arrigo A. Cigna
with 7 figures and 3 tables
Natural caves started to be opened to tourism over 400 years ago and now probably all the Coun-
tries of the world hosts at least one, but o en dozens, of show caves. Some 500 major show caves with over
50.000 visitor/year exist in the world and over 250 million visitors pay yearly a ticket to visit them. It is there-
fore evident that show caves are presently one of the most important geotouristic targets all over the world
and they represent an important economic resource for many of the still developing Countries.
But caves have also an exceptional scienti c value due to the fact that they represent one of the best
archive for all the Quaternary and allow for extremely accurate paleo-environmental and paleo-climatic
reconstructions. It is possible to maintain the aesthetic and scienti c values of a cave when transforming
it into a show cave; but to reach this goal it is important to follow strict rules before, during and a er their
Guidelines aiming to supply a recommendation to be endorsed for the development of show caves were
dra ed in the last years and received strong recommendations from the UIS Department of Protection and
Management at both the 14th International Congress of Speleology held in Kalamos, Greece, in August 2005
and the 15th International Congress of Speleology held in Kerrville, Texas, in July 2009. At the 7th Interna-
tional Congress of ISCA at Jenolan Caves, Australia, in November 2014 a nal text was agreed upon with the
title “Recommended International Guidelines for the Development and Management of Show Caves“.
Key words: Show caves, tourism, parks, environment
Show caves are one of the most important attractions from the point of view of tourism and
therefore they deserve much attention in their development. e fundamental criteria presently
adopted are the protection of the cave environment, the safety of the visitors and a correct pro t
from the cave management. All such criteria must be taken into account otherwise the develop-
ment would have very negative e ects.
As D S (2012) stated, the worst fate that can befall a cave is for it to be developed
as a show cave, then for it to fail as a business entity, and be closed. e cave becomes very vulner-
able to misuse. erefore the show cave must not be pro table for the short term, but perpetu-
ally. e view that a show cave is a golden goose laying golden eggs implies that the goose must
be properly fed and protected. is means that is necessary to having all of the knowledge and
awareness regarding the physical needs of the cave to ensure that its environment is preserved
and conserved. Recent years have seen a veritable plethora of innovations and concepts relating
to the best cave management, which are here pointed out.
Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, Vol. 60 (2016), Suppl. 2, 217-233 Article
published in print June 2016
© 2016 Gebrüder Borntraeger Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany www.borntraeger-cramer.de
DOI: 10.1127/zfg_suppl/2016/00305 0372-8854/16/00305 $ 4.50
218 A.A. Cigna
2. Protection of the environment
A cave is an environment with little contact with the exterior. For this reason its equilibrium can
be easily changed when additional energy is introduced (C 1993). Obviously such changes
may occur more frequently when the whole energy budget of the cave is small, but in the case
of show caves the energy budget is o en not very small, because of their size, which is generally
large. A river or a subterranean lake play an important role in maintaining the natural equilib-
rium because they may absorb, more easily than rock, any further input of energy.
In a show cave both the visitors and the electric lighting system release energy into the envi-
ronment. A person who is walking will release nearly as much energy as a 200-watt bulb at a tem-
perature of about 37 °C. erefore the total energy released by hundreds, or thousands, of visitors
in a day is not negligible as an absolute amount. e heat released by the electric lighting system
has the same order of magnitude.
ere are di erent ways to keep the additional energy input into the cave as low as possible.
A limit of the number of visitors is given by the so called “visitors’ capacity” which is de ned
as the maximum number of visitors acceptable in a time unit under de ned conditions, which
does not imply a permanent modi cation of a relevant parameter. Otherwise, instead of reduc-
ing the number of persons, the time they spend in the cave may be reduced. is result may be
easily achieved when people enter the cave through one entrance and exit along another passage,
instead of returning along the same pathway they entered the cave by.
Using high e ciency lamps, as LEDs, can reduce the contribution of the electric lighting
system. A further reduction can be obtained if the lamps are switched on only when visitors are
in the vicinity.
Another perturbation of the cave environment is caused by the lint (hair, dry- aking skin,
dust from shoes and material from clothing) le by visitors. In caves visited by a large number of
people the accumulation of lint becomes a real problem to be solved by careful removal. In fact
it would cause deterioration of formations and reduce their pristine white beauty to a blackened
Lint released into a cave might be reduced by means of air curtains at the entrance. Such a
solution would “wash” people entering the cave and, at the same time, isolate the cave environment
from the exterior since an air curtain acts as an invisible door and avoids air ow through it.
e protection of the environment of a show cave is fundamental, both from the point of
view of avoiding any damage to a non-renewable patrimony, and the conservation of the source
of income for the cave management. erefore such a common interest may have an important
role in the implementation of any action aiming to safeguard the cave environment.
Visitors also release carbon dioxide as a result of their breathing. Until a few years ago such
carbon dioxide was considered a threat to the cave formations since it could have increased the
water acidity and, consequently corrosion, instead of the deposition of new formations. Further
accurate studies (B et al. 1998) have shown that in many instances the carbon dioxide
produced by natural processes (oxidisation of organic matter in the soil above a cave) may intro-
duce, through the water percolating into the cave, amounts very much larger than the carbon
dioxide released by visitors.
Tourism and show caves
When the water, with a relatively high concentration of carbon dioxide, reaches the cave
environment it immediately releases part of this carbon dioxide, which is not in equilibrium with
the carbon dioxide in the air. erefore the chemical reaction moves towards the deposition of
calcium carbonate and the formations continue to grow. In general, rather small caves with a high
visitor ux, and without any input of natural carbon dioxide, might have formations corroded
because the chemical reactions would be reversed when the carbon dioxide in the air dissolves
into water, particularly when water vapour condenses on the cave walls.
Another form of environmental pollution may occur through the joint contribution of visi-
tors and light. People may release cave spores or seeds of plants into the cave and they may grow
in the vicinity of lamps if the light ux is high enough. e result is the so-called “lampen ora”
i.e. green plants (generally algae, fern, moss) developing on cave walls or formations close to a
light source. Such plants cover the surfaces with a greenish layer, which can become covered by
the calcite deposit and no longer be removable. In fact lampen ora can be washed away by bleach
or hydrogen peroxide if it is not covered by calcite. Special care must be taken to avoid any dam-
age to the cave fauna.
e growth of lampen ora can be avoided by the employment of light sources with a very low
emission of light that does not encourage the chlorophyllian process and low light ux at the rock
surface. A detailed description of the most e cient methods to control lampen ora is reported
in C (2012).
3 Safety of the visitors
As it has already been pointed out in the previous paragraphs the physical and chemical equilib-
riums of the environment should not be modi ed outside the range of the natural variations.
At the same time, any source of harm to the visitors must be avoided. is means that the
pathways must be strong enough to withstand very high humidity and, sometimes, also oods.
In the past, wooden structures were o en used, but they had to be replaced frequently. Today,
there are some self perceived “green” enthusiasts who want to still use wood because this mate-
rial is natural. Nevertheless the rather short life of a wooden structure in the cave environment
implies an additional cost, which is not justi ed. On the contrary the rotten wood provides large
amounts of food modifying the equilibrium of the cave life. ere is only one particular situation
when wooden structures are to be preferred: and that is in the ice caves. In fact wood surface is
less slippery than any other material and the low temperature avoids its decay, but stainless steel
is sometimes preferred.
Again the “green” enthusiasts have emphasised the criterion to use only structures, which can
be easily decommissioned, once they are no longer needed. Such an argument is substantially
wrong because, once it is no longer viable to operate a show cave, no one will spend any money to
take any structure out of the cave even if they are relatively easy to decommission.
In the meantime, it is preferable to use a material that is compatible with the cave environ-
ment and will not release pollutants in the long run. At present, these materials are concrete,
stainless steel and plastic.
220 A.A. Cigna
Concrete in itself is economical but its use in a cave may become rather expensive when it
must be carried along di cult passages where the use of mechanical aids is not allowed. However,
any change in the future would make it di cult to disassemble the pathways and dispose of the
Handrails made from stainless steel are also a convenient solution, particularly when they
are also used as pipes to provide fresh water in di erent parts of the cave to wash the pathways.
In fact, this higher cost of stainless steel is justi ed by a lack of any maintenance a er many years
Recently plastic structures have been used in caves to build pathways. Presently the best
material available on the market is a breglass reinforced plastic. Its key product features are that
it is lightweight, corrosion resistant, non-conductive, low maintenance, slip resistant, re retard-
ant, etc. e use of reinforced plastic, being non-conductive, avoids also the propagation of elec-
tric surges from thunderstorms inside the cave with problems for the visitors and the electronic
In addition this material has a high strength-to-weight ratio with one-third the weight of
steel, allowing easy installation, with no heavy equipment, and less manpower. In fact simple
tools easily work such materials and the di erent parts of the structure are assembled with stain-
less steel bolts. Another interesting advantage is the possibility of modifying any pathway very
easily. On the other hand, other mixtures, e.g. of plastics and sawdust, must never be used because
they are easily degraded by mould and their mechanical characteristics are quite poor.
When an arti cial entrance is needed in order to give an easier access to the cave, or to estab-
lish a circuit to avoid the return of visitors along the same pathway, it is absolutely necessary to
install a system of doors to stop any additional air ow in the cave. Up to now, doors operated
mechanically or manually are normally used, but it would be most preferable to install air cur-
tains. is solution (suggested already many years ago by Russell and Jeanne Gurnee 1990) is less
expensive, quite safe and has the great advantage of avoiding any sense of claustrophobia to visi-
tors. In addition it also decreases the release of lint by people as reported previously.
4 Pro t
Before starting any procedure to develop a wild cave into a show cave, a detailed study of the
whole situation is required. Nearly twenty years ago, two great experts of cave management,
R and J G (1981), wrote (p. 4): “ e successful development and operation of
a tourist cave depends on a combination of factors, including:
1) Scienti c investigation
Scienti c study is recommended at the beginning, as the rst phase, in order to determine
which hydrologic and geologic factors may have an in uence on the development. Art is neces-
sary both in determining the routeing of trails and selecting particular cave scenes to feature, and
Tourism and show caves
in lighting – which is in itself a combination of both art and the next factor, technology. e tech-
nology necessary to control water and other natural forces within the cave and to design suitable
trails again combines with art to create a tasteful and agreeable cave tour. Management continues
from the time the rst plans are laid, through the developed or operational phase.
e four factors listed above apply both to the development of private caves and public or
government lands. O en, because of limited nancial resources of a private owner, one or more
of these factors is not considered, and poor development and lack of nancial success may result.
Failure of a cave to succeed, either through the development phase or a er, when the cave is open
to the public, can lead to an unprotected area which has been advertised and known to the public
that can be subsequently subject to vandalism.
In order to ensure that a cave has the highest chance of success as a tourist endeavour, a com-
prehensive study and evaluation should be made before any physical work is commenced. A cave
study provides a “blueprint” which investors, technical people, workmen, exhibitors and admin-
istrators can follow to bring about a successful cave operation. e study plan is coordinated by
management in order to develop a plan for the best display of the cave.
With a detailed study and cost prospectus, at the time the development is originally pro-
posed, a cave can be successfully developed less expensively, more e ectively and in less time.
Technological advances in the past y years in lighting, communications, transportation,
marketing techniques and almost every phase of cave development, make it important to nd
the most e cient ways to complete the project. Every cave must be looked at from the posi-
tion of the businessman, artist, engineer, speleologist and conservationist. e modi cation of
a natural cave to permit easy visitation of the public requires all of these viewpoints. Balance
among these views, through decisions made before beginning the venture, will assure a sound
Speleological associations, which bring together those caves being considered for tourism,
can be of great service not only to the group developing a cave, but also in preserving the cave as
nearly as possible to its natural state”.
It would be really rather di cult to have a better description of the procedure to adopt for the
development of a tourist cave.
In addition to an Environmental Impact Assessment, the procedures suggested in the plan-
ning phase commonly include those that can quantify certain parameters (topographical, social
and economic) used to predict tourist ows. Some of these methodological procedures, well
known and successfully applied in the geographic-economic eld, tend not to be employed in the
development of show caves because of some lack of knowledge.
e rather widespread feeling among speleologists, and people in general, that a cave is “lost”
to science when it is developed as a tourist attraction, is not at all supported by the important sci-
enti c results obtained from many show caves. Sometimes the borderline between use and abuse
may be di cult to de ne; nevertheless a careful development continuously monitored may be the
most e cient way to protect a cave.
It is evident that the economy of a region around a show-cave-to-be can be radically modi-
ed by the cave development. erefore strenuous opposition to any tourist visitation appears
to be rather unfair towards the local people, particularly when a suitable compromise between
222 A.A. Cigna
strict conservation and a sound development can be found. But in any case, as it was previously
reported, a cave development cannot be accepted if it is not supported by appropriate preliminary
A recent evaluation of the number of show cave visitors all around the world (C & B
2000), based on data obtained for about 20% of all show caves, estimate a global number of more
than 150 million visitors per year. By assuming a budget per person as reported in Table 1 the
total amount of money spent to visit the show caves is around 3 billion US $ (value 2008). e
number of the local people directly (management and local services) or indirectly (hotels, res-
taurants, transport, etc.) involved in the show cave business can be estimated to be up to several
hundred per cave, i.e. some hundreds of thousands of individuals in the world.
Table 1. Rough estimation of the annual direct and local budget of a show cave per each visitor (US $
Source US $ (2008)
Direct income 6.5
Other local income:
Souvenirs & snacks 2.0
Travel agency 2.5
By taking into account that there are several hundred other people working indirectly to each
person directly connected with a show cave (F & C 1989), a gross global gure of about
100 million people receive income from the show cave business. erefore, it can be roughly
assumed that for each tourist visiting a show cave there is about one other person directly or indi-
rectly connected who is earning income from the visit.
In addition to show caves, the existence of karst parks, which include a cave within their
boundaries, must also be considered. As reported by H (1981) the number of visitors to
the top three karst national parks in USA (Mammoth Cave, Carlsbad Caverns and Wind Cave)
amounted to about 2.500.000 tourists each year. erefore karst parks give a further increase to
the number of people involved in the whole “karst” business.
ere are many other human activities that involve a larger number of people; nevertheless
the gures reported above are not negligible, and give an indication of the role that show caves
play in the global economy.
e “destination life cycle” term was rst mentioned in B’ model (1980) as A
et al. (2008) reported. Such a concept led to the development of a model very useful to describe
the stages of evolution of a tourist attraction as reported in Fig. 1.
Tourism and show caves
In recent years a worldwide decrease of the show caves’ visitors was noticed and its cause was
attributed to a general increase in the cost of living. Another reason for a decrease of interest may
be due sometimes to a tourists’ saturation of interest. In any case, a revitalization of the show cave
may be obtained by the development of a new attraction such as, e.g. naturalistic itineraries, visits
to more show caves in same area, sounds and lights, quality of the guide service, etc. (B &
In conclusion the whole show cave “industry” must be constantly and carefully changing to
adapt to the shi s that are brought to us all by our rapidly changing world. ere are challenges
that we must all rise up and meet.
5 Caves, geoparks and science
For centuries caves were the single geologic objects interested by huge touristic ow. But in the
last tens of years the idea of enlarging the content of a touristic attraction in order to take into
account any possible aspects of the area considered took gradually more attention. is change
of view was also due to economical reasons leading to a better integration among the di erent
In the third millennium geopark tourism grew in exponential manner and nowadays several
millions of tourists visit at least one geopark each year. Taking into consideration that at least 1/3
of the existing geopark host karst features, the touristic budget related not only to show caves
but also to karst geoparks should be probably doubled. Presently two other human uses of caves
generate huge touristic ows: the rst related to religion and the second to health care (C &
Even today the three largest monotheistic religions (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) are deeply
involved in caves and some of these sacred caves are visited by millions of pilgrims every year.
Fig. 1. Tourist area cycle of evolution (B 1980).
224 A.A. Cigna
us it is reasonable to evaluate that presently the cumulative budget of the sacred tourism in
caves may correspond to 15–20% of that of the normal show caves and the total employed peoples
should be increased by the same amount.
e second activity for economic importance, actually performed in caves is that related to
health care: in the antiquity thermal caves have been used as ermae (V 2000), but it is was
from the rst half of the XX century onwards that thermal caves started to become important
from the economic point of view. In the second half of the last century the cold caves also started
to be widely utilized for speleotherapy, mainly in the Countries of Eastern Europe (S 1997).
Actually speleotherapy is normally used against several diseases like allergenic asthma, arthrosis
etc. (AA.VV. 1997).
e number of Countries, in which health care in caves is active, is still scarce, being practi-
cally restricted to Europe. us the number of persons actually involved in such a kind of health-
tourism are of course much less than those involved in the sacred or normal cave tourism: in fact
they maybe a few millions yearly all over the world; anyway their number is growing fast and this
activity stats spreading outside Europe.
But even if the health care in cave represents no more than 3–5% of the total cave tourism, its
economic importance is by far higher due to its high costs. us the budget of the Spas and spe-
leotherapic caves may be evaluated up to 10–15% of that of the normal show caves, while in this
case the employed persons should be considered no more than 2–3% of the total. In conclusion
the two types of peculiar cave tourism, just outlined, contribute up to 35–40% to the total budget
of the show caves of the world (Table 2).
Table 2. Di erent worldwide uses of show caves.
Use of show caves Visitors
Tourism 77–83 40–50
Religious 15–20 15–20
Health 2–3 35–40
Total 100 100
At the end of the second millennium it was already clear that caves are perhaps the best
place of the world to perform research in many di erent scienti c elds (F 2002, 2009).
is is because caves are low to very low energy sites, with scarce “noise” coming into from the
outside, thus allowing extremely accurate experiments impossible to perform outside. Moreover,
cave environment acts as perfect accumulation traps over extremely long span of time: most of
the knowledge we actually have about our ancestors will never be available to us without caves.
eir physical and chemical deposits proved to record practically any event occurring in the cave
area during their growth, thus allowing accurate paleo-climatological, paleo-environmental and
Tourism and show caves
paleo-seismical reconstructions. All these characteristics make caves perfect experimental labo-
ratory in elds like physics, biology, geology, engineering, medicine etc.
Even if, theoretically, all natural cavities are suitable for research, in practice only few if them
may be transformed into laboratories: in fact scientists require that a cave meets a few of common
characteristics, which can be summarized as:
● To be in a condition as pristine as possible
● To be easily accessible
● To be safe
● To have power supply
e request of the scientists perfectly t the common characteristics of any show cave, which
are always the best site where perform any kind of research: this is the reason why several experi-
mental laboratories have been located just within them.
Anyway, until now, sometimes the show cave managers may have scarce interest or, even
worse, they totally disagree in having in their cave a scienti c laboratory because they consider
the research only as a waste of their money and a hinder to the normal tourist activity.
Of course they are right when saying that scienti c research need space, time and money, but
they do not consider the fact that scientists may greatly help the management of a show cave in
two fundamental elds: the conservation of the cave equilibrium and the increase of its touristic
It is well known that tourism may induce negative changes in the cave environment: dust, lint
and lampen ora degrading the cave formations and cave heating being the most frequent ones. It
is evident that the presence of a laboratory, where cave parameters are constantly monitored, may
help to prevent these undesirable consequences of the tourist activity.
Even more important is the second e ect of the presence of scienti c activities within a
show cave: in fact researchers may easily supply suggestions and materials for the environmen-
tal education of the visitors, satisfying also their request of clear answers about scienti c ques-
tions related to the show cave itself, or karst and caves in general. Hopefully scientists may also
train the tourist guides in order to improve their knowledge and ability to explain the cave to
6 New materials and methods
An important evolution occurred recently by the appearance of new materials in the market.
Since prehistoric time until few years ago the evolution of cave development for inhabitants and
visitors was rather slow moving from steps carved into rock or sediment (Fig. 2) or obtained with
slabs to concrete pathways and staircases or wooden structures (Fig. 3). Sometimes a cheaper
material, with respect to stainless steel, as zinc plated iron was used (Fig. 4) but it implies some
problems to cave fauna on account to zinc, which is toxic for fauna unless a high dilution could
be assured by a relevant water ow.
With the appearance of plastic materials and a new approach to the protection of natural
environment the aforesaid evolution had an abrupt change. It is true that stainless steel was also
226 A.A. Cigna
Fig. 2. e prehistoric (6000–4000 years b.C.) stair-
case in the Grotta dei Cervi di Porto Badisco.
Fig. 3. Wooden staircase in Grotta di Trebiciano,
Trieste, Italy, ese staircases have been initially
installed in 1894 during the investigation for pro-
viding water for Trieste. e platforms (top in the
photo) were installed one century ago in pitchpine
treated with copper sulfate and carbonileo (Photo
Tourism and show caves
used for some features as, particularly, handrails. Nevertheless cost, weight and some di culties
in working limited its use.
e totally new materials obtained by a compound of plastics and glass bres supplied an
incredible improvement for show caves development, as its will be described below.
On November 2014 at the 7th International Congress of ISCA at Jenolan Caves, Austra-
lia, a document was approved with the title “Recommended International Guidelines for the
Development and Management of Show Caves“. Such a document was developed by the Inter-
national Show Caves Association (I.S.C.A.), International Union for the Conservation of Nature
(I.U.C.N.) and the International Union of Speleology (U.I.S.): the text may be downloaded
6.1 Surface infrastructures
e site of the above ground facilities must be well planned by avoiding that these features be
built over the cave itself, or relevant parts of it. In particular any intervention such as the water-
tight surface of a parking area must be avoided. Any change in the rainwater seepage into a cave
as well any change to the land above the cave may have a negative in uence on the cave and the
growth of its formations.
Fig. 4. Zinc plated iron pathways in the SuMannau Cave (Sardinia, Italy).
228 A.A. Cigna
In the past most pathways were obtained with concrete (reinforced when necessary) for steps and
oor. is material has no adverse e ects on the cave environment because from a chemical point
of view has the same composition of limestone. e iron or steel used to reinforce the cement
could sometimes cause breaks when got rusty.
e handrails in stainless steel were also a convenient solution, particularly when they were
also used as pipes to provide water in di erent parts of the cave to wash out the pathways. e
higher cost of stainless steel was justi ed by a lack of any maintenance also a er many years of
operation (C et al. 2000).
In the last tens years new material were developed with incredible advantages with respect
to the past. In particular the pathways can be built entirely with plastics. e material used for
the pathways, including the railing and kickplate, are manufactured by a pultrusion process. It is
is a continuous moulding process whereby reinforcing bres are saturated with a liquid polymer
resin and then carefully formed and pulled through a heated die to form a part.
Pultrusion results in straight constant cross section parts of virtually any shippable length.
where continuous breglass roving and mat is covered by resin. e resin used for handrails is,
e.g., isophtalic polyester and the resin used for other components is vinil ester. Both have a low
ame spread rating of 25 or less. ese materials are delivered in various colours, avoiding, e.g.,
the brightness of the stainless steel that is not aesthetically agreeable.
ese components have about one-third the weight of steel allowing easy installation using
standard circular or sabre saws. Stainless steel bolts connect the di erent parts. Such pathways
may be easily repaired or modi ed to adapt to new layout if necessary.
Since the mechanical properties of these materials are very close to steel’s properties it is evi-
dent the advantage because also long sections can be easily transported inside a cave, while the
di erent parts can be easily worked out with simple instruments.
e design of breglass pathways needs a detailed survey of the strip where the pathway its
self will be installed, because each element can be prepared in advance according the design. Dur-
ing the assembly of the pathway the legs require only small adjustment that can be easily obtained
with sliding feet.
e power supply must comply with both the country rules, which at present are in general rather
severe and the aesthetic requirements. e plastic pathways may host below the platform and
along the legs, pipes with the cables of the power supply. e cable network may be somewhat
more complex than in the past because in general only the parts of the cave occupied by visitors
should be switched on. e power supply of the emergency light should be splitted into at least
two independent sections as reported above.
Nowadays very e cient light sources have been developed. e most useful in caves are the
LEDs and the cold cathode lamps (CCL). Both are characterized by a very long life of 50,000
hours and longer. e LEDs cost from 20% to 100% more than CCLs for the same results.
Tourism and show caves
Fig. 5. Structure of the pathway before the positioning of the walking grid.
Fig. 6. e pathway in the Grutas de Bustamante, Mexico, with visitors. e cables of lighting and monitor-
ing are placed under the walkway.
230 A.A. Cigna
In Table 3 a comparison among the overall luminous e ciency (as lumen/watt) per input
power for incandescent lamps (ILs), LEDs and CCLs.
Table 3. Indicative comparison of the overall luminous e ciency per input power for di erent lamps
Incandescent (IL) 15
Light emitting iodes (LED) 45
Cold Cathod Lamps (CCL) 67
e advantage of the new light sources is evident both for the cost of lighting and the long life
of the lamps. But these new sources have speci c qualities of their own. LEDs are point sources
while CCLs are linear. LEDs may be chosen with di erent temperature colour, i.e. warm (with
a red component) or cold (more white). CCLs may be produced with a negligible contribution
of their emission spectrum in the regions (around 430–490 nm and 640–900 nm), which mostly
contribute to the chlorophyllian process. In this way the proliferation of lampen ora is reduced.
e emergency lighting can be obtained at a very low cost with the “rope light” i.e. a exible
plastic polymer rope with lights in inside that can be cut at a convenient length and placed along
the pathways (Fig. 7). In particular such emergency lights can be divided into two sections dis-
tributed alternatively and connected to two di erent power lines in order that, in case of a failure
of one section, there will always be another one in operation.
Such a kind of lighting can also supply enough light to the pathways in normal conditions,
and special features only must have additional light sources
6.4 Other networks
In case of a complete network to supply environmental data to a central computer, as well as the
telephone, cables run into other pipes. To improve visitors’ safety, a special network enabling a
guide to talk with the outside o ce from any point of the cave would be strongly advisable.
6.5 Visitors carrying capacity
As it is well known, caves may be classi ed caves into widely di erent energetic categories. H-
(1986) proposed three categories: high-energy, moderate-energy, and low-energy levels. In
order to avoid any permanent change in the environmental equilibrium it is necessary to avoid
the introduction of energy beyond the intrinsic cave capacity. Such a constraint implies a limita-
tion of both electric power supply for the cave lighting and the visitors’ ow, i.e. the visitors car-
Tourism and show caves
is limit may be evaluated according di erent methods and specialists only are entrusted to
carry out the whole procedure according the best choice to be applied to each local situation (e.g.:
M & ’H 1996, L et al. 2013).
6.6 Environmental monitoring
In the past a complete network to supply environmental data to a central computer was consid-
ered a best solution with the transmission of data to a central computer was considered a best
solution to be achieved. But it was experienced that such a network might be convenient for
larger caves only. e main problems being a relatively high cost (installation and maintenance)
and the danger of damages due to lightning, which may discharge high tension peaks on the line
connecting the sensors with the main computer.
A less expensive solution, which is also more robust, is obtained with a number of stations
whose data are download, e.g. once a month, and the elaboration is carried out in a computer
outside the cave without any hardware connection.
In addition to the usual parameters (temperature, relative humidity, etc.) radon became a
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in air on a yearly basis. e scope is the evaluation of the yearly average dose to cave guides to be
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e most suitable detector is the etched track detector because it is una ected by humidity,
may be kept to record the average concentration up to one year and their cost is very low. Other
detectors do not comply with such characteristics and, in general, should be avoided.
Fig.7. e emergency lights placed along the edge of the pathway in the Grutas de Bustamante, Mexico.
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