TSS collects cave and karst data for Texas to support exploration, scientific, educational, and conservation purposes. That information is generally available to responsible persons and organizations but to meet its responsibility to cavers and cave owners who have trusted TSS with their cave data. TSS reserves the right not to distribute certain information if it could result in the exploitation or degradation of cave or karst resources. As a result, requests for TSS data are into two types, casual and formal, depending on the type and amount of sensitive information that is requested.


Most cavers will almost exclusively use the first type, which TSS calls a casual data request. Casual requests are those where the release of the requested data would not likely pose a risk of harm to caves, karst features, their contents, or their owners and can be made and responded to orally. If you are a caver looking for information on a cave or a few caves and need the locations and owner information, you can call, e-mail or write TSS and TSS will generally consider such a request a low risk of harm to caves, owners, and cavers, and will provide the information. This assumes the cave is not highly sensitive to visitation and you seem responsible and competent enough to safely visit the cave.

How does TSS know who is responsible and competent? The same way virtually all cavers do when asked for caving information. We either know the person making the request or contact cavers who know the person. If that person does not seem to have the skills to safely navigate the cave or if TSS can't find anyone who knows the person, then TSS will try to redirect the person to a cave that is safer and less vulnerable to impacts or completely turn down the request. If the person is responsible and cares about caves, then he or she will understand and appreciate TSS' hesitance in fulfilling the request. With a little time in situations like these, TSS has built trusting and valued relationships with previously unfamiliar cavers.


The formal data request is used where the volume of sensitive data requested is potentially significant and/or where a greater degree of assurance is desired from the requestor that the data won't be misused. This request is most commonly used by agencies and consulting firms working in karst areas who want information on the caves they may encounter. TSS requires that their request be in writing and provide information such as the requestor's name, address, and qualifications, and a description of the data requested, explanation on the intended use of the data, assurance that the data will not be used to "directly or indirectly harm, degrade or destroy caves, karst features, or their contents, nor to harass or otherwise disturb the owners of caves and karst features," promise not to publish sensitive data, and an agreement to provide TSS a copy of the resulting data or report when the work is complete. TSS has successfully executed several formal requests. The full procedure for making a formal data request is provided here.


1. Name, Street Address and Telephone Number of the person, business, organization, or agency requesting the data

2. A description of the data requested, or the type of data requested if specific data are not known

3. A description of the intended use of the data

4. Qualifications of the person, business, organization, or agency to properly use the data

5. A statement of intent not to directly or indirectly harm, degrade or destroy caves, karst features, or their contents, nor to harass or otherwise disturb the owners of caves and karst features

6. A statement holding the TSS harmless for the quality, accuracy, use, interpretation, or causes of action based upon the data

7. An agreement not to publish the locations of caves or karst features, the names or addresses of the caves or features owners, or other information identified by TSS as sensitive or proprietary, or otherwise release such data to anyone who does not directly need it to accomplish the goals stated as the intended use of the data and as such approved for release by the TSS

8. An agreement to provide the TSS with a copy of all data, maps, or reports that are produced based on or including the released data, with an estimated time frame of when that information will be delivered

9. If the person, business, organization, or agency is making the request on behalf of other persons, businesses, organizations, or agencies, then letters are needed from each of the other parties providing the above information and stipulating to the above conditions.

10. An agreement to pay TSS a flat rate fee of $250, with an additional charge of $100/hr for searches over one hour, plus any direct costs associated with the compilation, copying, and shipping of the requested data

Requests for TSS data and payment for services (checks payable to Texas Speleological Survey) should be submitted by email to:

Marvin Miller
(210) 415-5190