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Dependence of radon levels in Postojna Cave on outside air temperature

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Author(s): A. Gregorič | A. Zidanšek | J. Vaupotič

Journal: Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
ISSN 1561-8633

Volume: 11;
Issue: 5;
Start page: 1523;
Date: 2011;
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ABSTRACT
Postojna Cave is the largest of 21 show caves in Slovenia. The radon concentration there was measured continuously in the Great Mountain hall from July 2005 to October 2009 and ranged from about 200 Bq m−3 in winter to about 3 kBq m−3 in summer. The observed seasonal pattern of radon concentration is governed by air movement due to the difference in external and internal air densities, controlled mainly by air temperature. The cave behaves as a large chimney and in the cold period, the warmer cave air is released vertically through cracks and fissures to the colder outside atmosphere, enabling the inflow of fresh air with low radon levels. In summer the ventilation is minimal or reversed and the air flows from the higher to the lower openings of the cave. Our calculations have shown that the effect of the difference between outside and cave air temperatures on radon concentration is delayed for four days, presumably because of the distance of the measurement point from the lower entrance (ca. 2 km). A model developed for predicting radon concentration on the basis of outside air temperature has been checked and found to be successful.
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