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Clouds in caves

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Author(s): Badino,G.

Journal: Speleogenesis and Evolution of Karst Aquifers
ISSN 1814-294X

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 3271;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: cave atmosphere | condensation in caves.

ABSTRACT
This paper considers the different processes that can create vapour pressure above the equilibrium in the cave atmosphere: ascending air parcels, pressure drop behind bottlenecks, mixing of saturated air parcels at different temperatures and water flow fragmentation. These processes are essentially the same as those leading to clouds forming in the open atmosphere, always connected with air movements. The difference of adiabatic lapse rates of water and moist air creates temperature imbalance between the flowing fluids in deep underground systems, leading to thermal and water exchanges, in which water flow globally subtracts energy from the system. The high purity of caves atmospheres tends to delay condensation. Condensation is concentrated where airflows are in close contact to the cave wall. The rate of aggressive water condensation on the walls is comparable to the external rain and can play a leading role in Speleogenesis.

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