Speleological Subject Classification Scheme for classifying cave/karst data fields

This is the interim Speleological Subject Classification (SSC) scheme being used by the UIS Informatics Commission (UISIC) to enable the categorisation and grouping of cave and karst related data fields, pending the introduction of a comprehensive UIS Speleological Subject Classification scheme.
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This interim scheme is a simple expansion of the existing scheme published by the UIS Bibliography Commission in No. 32 of its Speleological Abstracts. It has been created solely by adding further detail, and in some cases adding extra words to a classification for better clarity when the term is to be used stand-alone. Hence it remains compatible with the SA scheme. The Speleo Abstracts scheme becomes in effect a sub-set of this scheme.

In addition to the extensions included here, further subdivision of the topics will eventually be needed to cater in more detail for data fields used by scientific workers in the various aspects of speleological study. If other SSC schemes exist, then the data fields can be classified according to them also. Fields can also be given several classifications from the same scheme when necessary. If only one classification is allowed, and a field relates to several sub-classifications under the one parent, then the parent classification should be used.

Many fields could well take several classifications, but to simplify the Field List under discussion, only one has been chosen. The classification chosen has been based not on the entity the field belongs to, but on the main aspect that the field is describing. For example, the map field [Map controller person ID] has three subjects - maps, access to them, and it's actually an ID. However it has not been classified under maps (you already know it's related to maps), nor under identifications, but under the main aspect of the field, namely, access restrictions 6.3.

Note that the purpose of the scheme shown here is solely for classifying cave/karst-related data fields, although the notes related to bibliographic classification have been retained for completeness. Notes specific only to Fields or to Bibliography have been identified by F: or B: respectively.

Although the scheme shown has been arrived at by classifying over 500 cave/karst fields so far, it still has some areas of difficulty, and constructive comment or further suggestions are welcome.


To enable its continued use with data fields, the following simple rules should guide any further development of the SSC scheme:

  1. Any topic is allowed to be divided into not more than 10 sub-topics at the one level. Hence each sub-topic can always be represented by a single digit code (0-9). A compact reference string which consists solely of digits will therefore remain unambiguous as to the sub-classification intended.
  2. Two of the codes are to retain the following consistent meanings:
    0 - General: Matters which could apply to all or several classifications under the parent classification.
    9 - Other: Specific topics which fall under the parent topic but which are not covered by any of the existing topics at that level.
  3. The maximum depth of subdivision allowed is up to 8 levels, e.g.
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Please address any comment to: Peter MATTHEWS