- The preservation of emittance of the accelerating beam is the next challenge for plasma-based accelerators envisioned for future light sources and colliders. The field structure of a highly nonlinear plasma wake is potentially suitable for this purpose but has not been yet measured. Here we show that the longitudinal variation of the fields in a nonlinear plasma wakefield accelerator cavity produced by a relativistic electron bunch can be mapped using the bunch itself as a probe. We find that, for much of the cavity that is devoid of plasma electrons, the transverse force is constant longitudinally to within ±3% (r.m.s.). Moreover, comparison of experimental data and simulations has resulted in mapping of the longitudinal electric field of the unloaded wake up to 83 GV m(-1) to a similar degree of accuracy. These results bode well for high-gradient, high-efficiency acceleration of electron bunches while preserving their emittance in such a cavity.