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Sarawak Chamber laser scanning

Kevin Dixon monitors the laser scanner in Sarawak Chamber | photo Robbie Shone

During the 2011 expedition a specific objective was to accurately measure Sarawak Chamber using modern laser measuring techniques. Since its discovery in 1980, Sarawak Chamber had long been regarded as the world’s largest natural underground chamber. But whilst the plan area of the chamber might still be relatively accurate, even though surveyed using a fibron tape as was done in those days, little was really known about the true volume of the chamber, other than extrapolation based on guesswork heights of the chamber. With recent discoveries of big ‘rooms’ or chambers in other countries like China, which might compete for the title of the world’s largest, it was judged a worthy project to attempt to accurately measure all the dimensions of the chamber using laser scanning technology.

Although presenting considerable challenges – would such sensitive equipment work in the heat and humidity of the chamber? – the difficulties were overcome. The logistics required a 4 day camp in the chamber with a team constantly present to monitor readings, move the laser scanner to new locations, and change batteries when required. A support team was on hand at the start and finish of the measuring to ferry equipment in and out of the cave.

The results of the laser scanning suggest that with a volume of 9.5 million cubic metres, and a plan area of more than 165,000 square metres, Sarawak Chamber is still far and away the largest natural underground chamber in the world.

Read the full story of the scanning project and results here.