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Recognition of microclimate zones through radon mapping, Lechuguilla Cave, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Health Physics

By:
and

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Abstract

Radon concentrations range from <185 to 3,515 Bq m-3 throughout Lechuguilla Cave, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. Concentrations in the entrance passages and areas immediately adjacent to these passages are controlled by outside air temperature and barometric pressure, similar to other Type 2 caves. Most of the cave is developed in three geographic branches beneath the entrance passages; these areas maintain Rn levels independent of surface effects, an indication that Rn levels in deep, complex caves or mines cannot be simply estimated by outside atmospheric parameters. These deeper, more isolated areas are subject to convective ventilation driven by temperature differences along the 477-m vertical extent of the cave. Radon concentrations are used to delineate six microclimate zones (air circulation cells) throughout the cave in conjunction with observed airflow data. Suspected surface connections contribute fresh air to remote cave areas demonstrated by anomalous Rn lows surrounded by higher values, the presence of mammalian skeletal remains, CO2 concentrations and temperatures lower than the cave mean, and associated surficial karst features.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Recognition of microclimate zones through radon mapping, Lechuguilla Cave, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
Series title:
Health Physics
Volume
61
Issue:
4
Year Published:
1991
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Health Physics
First page:
493
Last page:
500