Air flow studies

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Air flow studies

Postby FiddleCaver » Dec 19, 2006 1:45 am

I found a couple of articles on the net about cave wind and air flow studies and they got me pretty interested, but I can't find anything else. The two articles I found are, the Cave Airflow Bible by Nate Newkirk and Cave Air by Bruce Zerr. Anybody know of anything else???
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Postby ggpab » Dec 20, 2006 12:46 am

Hi Allen,

How keen are you on chasing this up? Specifically, do you have access to a university research library, and, can you read French?

There are some notably good studies on the aspiration/exhalation of caves by the French/Belgians. By measuring air discharge (volume per unit time), and changes in barometric pressure, you can start calculating the volume of the cave, and the elevation of second entrances in alpine/sub-alpine situations. I remember some work in Grotte du Pere Noel, so this is a very good time to be asking about this. I can't think of any major scientific publications on this work partly because I think it was initially headed up as an amateur scientific venture with many of the local cavers, but I have seen it presented at several conference in Europe. You might need to write directly to Dominique Genty and ask him kindly for some offprints (undoubtedly in French) or at least a list of references.

A second body of good cave air circulation literature has to be with radon, as the release of radon from the smaller fractures and fissures is related to air flow. Some references below, but undoubtedly more to be found through a targeted search.

A third body of cave air circulation has to do with remotely sensing cave entrances. This I have not seen published anywhere and I suspect my friend working on this might not want too much talk about that one.

I know of some various people (including myself) currently working on some aspects of cave atmosphere/circulation but it is not a very coordinated area of research to be honest.

Perhaps the best known and cited piece of research on cave air circulation is that of Wigley and Brown (1971) - this is the paper oft cited for making the case of cave air temperatures approaching that of the mean annual air temperature above the cave. A classic, and a foundation piece for all the studies using cave deposits to provide paleoclimate records.

Here is a short and incomplete list of references pulled quickly from my database - I am not promising these are the best or anything, but might be good to start. Also, there was a good paper published recently in the Journal of Cave and Karst Studies (NSS) on cave atmospheres worth reading - some very good field observations. Tell me if you need more direction to find that paper.

Good night.
Trish Beddows.


Wigley, T. M. L. and Brown, M. C., 1971, Geophysical applications of heat and mass transfer in turbulent pipe flow: Boundary-Layer Meteorology, v. 1, p. 300-320.

Atkinson, T. C., Smart, P. L., and Wigley, T. M. L., 1983, Climate and natural radon levels in Castleguard Cave, Columbia Icefields, Alberta Canada: Arctic and Alpine Research, v. 15, p. 487-502.

Luetscher, M. and Jeannin, P. Y., 2004, Temperature distribution in karst systems: the role of air and water fluxes: Terra Nova, v. 16, p. 344-350.

Hakl, J., Csige, I., Hunyadi, I., Varhegyi, A., and Geczy, G., 1996, Radon transport in fractured porous media - Experimental study in caves: Environment International, v. 22, p. S433-S437.

Bourges, F., Mangin, A., and d'Hulst, D., 2001, Carbon dioxide in karst cavity atmosphere dynamics: the example of the Aven d'Orgnac (Ardeche): Comptes Rendus de l Academie des Sciences Serie Ii Fascicule A- Sciences de la Terre et des Planetes, v. 333, p. 685-692.

Sondag, F., van Ruymbeke, M., Soubies, F., Santos, R., Somoerhausen, A., Seidel, A., and Boggiani, P., 2003, Monitoring present day climatic conditions in tropical caves using an Environmental Data Acquisition System (EDAS): Journal of Hydrology, v. 273, p. 103-118.

Genty, D. and Deflandre, G., 1998, Drip flow variations under a stalactite of the Pere Noel cave (Belgium). Evidence of seasonal variations and air pressure constraints: Journal of Hydrology, v. 211, p. 208-232.
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Postby FiddleCaver » Dec 20, 2006 5:48 am

Thank you so much for the info and references. I'm not great at French but I can filter through with the aid of some translation software, and I do have access to a few research libraries. I've found a bit more since I made that initial post, so I feel like I've definitely got a good starting point and a lot of reading to do.

Thanks again
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Postby hydrology_joe » Jan 11, 2007 1:58 pm

Here is an easy one to find from Cave & Karst Studies...

Pflitsch, A, and Piasecki, J, Detection of an Airflow System in Niedzwiedzia (Bear) Cave, Kleto, Poldand, Journal of Cave & Karst Studies, v. 65, no. 3, p.160-173.
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Postby ian mckenzie » Jan 11, 2007 6:38 pm

A good article entitled 'Chimney Effect Winds in Caves' by Tim Atkinson appears in The Canadian Caver vol 17 (the CC subject index is at I think these back-issues go for $7CAN; I have a spare copy. Amongst the references therein are:
A.Jancarik, 1981. Mathematical simulation of thermic airflow in complicated dynamic caves. Proc. 8th Int. Congr. Speleol., Bowling Green KY , vol 1 p. 103.
G.E.McElroy, 1966. Mine ventilation. in Mining Engineers Handbook 3rd edition (Ed. R. Peele), Wiley NY.
T.M.L.Wigley and M.C.Brown, 1976. The physics of caves. in Science of Speleology (eds. C.H.D.Cullingford and T.D.Ford), Academic Press, London and NY
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