SACS logo
Survey and Cartography Section
of the National Speleological Society
Home Contacts
Compass & Tape
Cartographic Salon
image title
Cartographic Salon

2024 Cartographic Salon Information

The NSS Cartographic Salon is held annually at the National Speleological Society Convention and has four purposes:
Highlights include:
Salon Resources:   Entry Form pdf    Judging Criteria    Contact

The Cartographic Salon is operated by the Survey and Cartography Section of the NSS. Visit their home at SACS

Judging for the 2024 NSS Convention Cartography Salon is changing!

This year, maps will be judged prior to convention in PDF format. Each Cartographer may submit a maximum of two individual "maps." A "map"  may be a single map sheet, or an organized collection of connected map sheets (map book, etc.) All digital entrants will receive grading and feedback based on the existing cartographic grading sheet

To be considered for any ribbon, medal or Cavers Choice awards, the map MUST ALSO be brought to the convention cartographic hall and be displayed. The display may be either paper, or in a digital format, which the presenter will have to arrange and provide. Digital submissions brought to convention with the intent of earning an award must be capable of being displayed in full page format at the print equivalent size. For example, if your map is displayed on a screen, no scrolling or zooming will be allowed when being considered against print equivalents. If the map is normally a 11x17 inch sheet size, bring an 11x17 inch screen to display it on. Multi page maps may use controls to switch between sheets, but the same page size rule applies. Maps that are not intended for grading or awards (display only) may be displayed in the salon with prior arrangement with Pat Kambesis and Jason Richards. Maps larger than 36x48 inches must be coordinated for display with Pat Kambesis or Jason Richards. (As usual we have limited large wall space.)

Entries for the Caver's Choice Award will be made in the Cartography Salon area, in the form of a tally drop box. To be considered for the Caver's Choice Award, maps must have been submitted for grading, and be displayed in the Salon area.

Digital maps for grading must be submitted no later than June 18, 2024
and should be deposited in the following Google Drive folder:

Please send an accompanying email along with your Salon Entry Form (it is a fillable pdf) and map file name to Pat Kambesis ( and Jason Richards (

Link to the Entry Form:

The entry form is fillable so just type in the info, save as  YOURLASTNAME.pdf

Submit the filled form along with your map entry.

Maps of caves or karst related features may be entered. There are no restrictions of cave size or location.

Do you need to go to convention to enter maps?

You do NOT need to attend Convention to enter maps in the Cartography Salon.  But your map DOES need to be at convention.  If you are not attending convention you can either give it to someone to deliver it for you or you can send your map to:

Pat Kambesis
177 Hamilton Valley Road
Cave City, KY  42127

It needs to arrive by June 28th at the latest.

Map Formats (for display at convention)

The salon accepts a variety of formats and methods of presentation for display at Convention. Innovations are encouraged (including web-based maps). Cartographers wishing to submit electronic displays of their maps must provide their own media for displaying the maps.

Number of Maps

Cartographers may enter up to TWO maps.


There are no fees for the Cartographic Salon.


Map Formats:

For judging you will need to upload your map as a pdf.

For Cartographic Salon display, maps should be paper though other methods can be used  (must be the same as what was submitted for judging as long as the cartographer provides the media (computer/laptop, monitors, etc) in which the map should be viewed.
Put a URL for your map on the salon entry form, and we will do the rest. Innovation in this media is welcome and encouraged. Though specific judging criteria for web based maps have not yet been developed for this salon, web-maps should include features that use the web format to advantage, such as view control or interactive controls.

Entry Form

Download the fillable entry form, fill it out and submit it with your map entry.  Save the form as YOURLASTNAME.pdf  The entry form can be found on this website. Detailed instructions are presented below.
Enter the full name of the cartographer for all the maps entered. At a minimum, include a complete first and last name. Where all the maps are created by more than one cartographer, list the names at the top of the form. The order of names shown on the entry form will be used in any award presentations. Where not all the maps entered have the same set of cartographers, either submit separate entry forms or list all the cartographers alongside the entry for each map.
Provide contact information for one of the cartographers. The number for a cell phone carried at convention may be handy.
Enter the Cartographic Salon category that applies to the cartographers entering the maps (see Judging and Awards). If there is more than one cartographer, pick the most experienced category that applies to any of the cartographers.
For each map, enter the name of the cave and its location, including county, state, and country (or non-US equivalents). If the map shows a section, quadrant, or other subdivision of a cave, include both the name of the section and the name of the cave. For system or thematic maps, enter the map title.
Your PDF maps will be sent to the judges only and will not be made available for download. As in other years, images of winning maps will be included in the Salon Awards presentation only if you allow it in your submission form.

bill of rightsPlease read the use rights section of the entry form. If you want to have your winning map shown during the Salon Awards Presentations and shown in the record of winners on the NSS website, then mark the box and put your dated signature at the bottom.  This is optional.



Maps are entered in one of three categories, based on the experience level of the map’s cartographers.
The apprentice category is for cartographers who have never been awarded a ribbon at a previous NSS Cartographic Salon.
The experienced category is for cartographers who have won one or more ribbons at a previous NSS Cartographic Salon, but not a Medal.
The master category is for cartographers who have been awarded the Medal at a previous NSS Cartographic Salon.

Awards by Salon Judges
Given to maps that demonstrate cartographic technique at a level suited to the category.
Given to maps that demonstrate consistent cartographic technique at the top level of the category.
Given to outstanding maps that demonstrate a consistent excellence of cartographic technique.

Caver’s Choice Award - This will be awarded to the map with the most caver votes.


Awards are presented by the Cartographic Salon Chair at the Salon Awards Show. This is traditionally held on Thursday evening of convention and includes all the great NSS Salons.


The most important part of the Cartographic Salon is the critique of the maps. This often is the only opportunity a mapper has to hear feedback from a group of fellow cave cartographers who each have taken time to study the map and to construct careful advice.

All maps will be returned to the cartographers unless they want to contribute them to the NSS.


Thursday, June 18, 2024 Deadline for receiving digital maps for judging:

Judging will start on June 19 and go through June 27, 2024

Awards will be presented at the Salon Awards Show at both short and long sessions

Map critiques will be available. Everyone is welcome to attend.

For more information, contact one or both of the Cartographic Salon Chairs . . .

Partial list of previos Salon winners

George Dasher compiled a list of Salon winners and other information from 1978 through 2004. This 60-page PDF file can be downloaded here.

Page last updated or validated on June 1, 2024