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August 23, 1987|Lane Larson

THE UNDERGROUND ATLAS: A GAZETTEER OF THE WORLD'S CAVE REGIONS by John Middleton and Tony Waltham (St. Martin's: $16.95; 239 pp.).

As the title indicates, this guide book is a detailed atlas concerned with the distribution of the world's caving areas.

Its authors have compiled research on caves and limestone areas worldwide. As the first comprehensive text of its kind, it should easily find its way into the library of any serious caver or speleo-scientific types as well as geologists interested in limestone and karst distribution around the world.

The text begins by briefly discussing each continent's limestone areas. Each area discussed is accompanied by descriptive maps. Then the book alphabetically covers caving by country: Afghanistan through Zimbabwe. In total, 215 countries are covered, giving the reader a brief overview of the countries' cave-forming rock; and, where notable, each country's major cave systems with line surveys of those systems.

"The Underground Atlas" also includes some extremely new and interesting data on major cave systems and exploration in China and the Soviet Union.

The text is complemented with 38 quality black-and-white photographs of some of the world's more fascinating caves. Also included are 100 maps and line surveys.

"The Underground Atlas" also provides glossary tables on the world's longest caves, the world's deepest caves, the largest cave chambers, and finally, any known contact information of national caving organizations in each country. The text is easy reading and systematically organized. Technical terms have been avoided except where necessary, and a short glossary is included for the reader not familiar with the terms used.

This book is a must for serious cavers and anyone with interest in international caving areas.

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