The condensation/evaporation process is important in caves, especially in tourist caves where there is carbon dioxide enriched air caused by visitors. The cycle of condensation and evaporation of condensate is believed to enhance condensation corrosion. The problem is condensation is difficult to measure. This study addresses the problem and reports on a method for measuring and modelling condensation rates in a limestone cave. Electronic sensors for measuring condensation and evaporation of the condensate as part of a single continuous process of water vapour flux are tested and used to collect 12 months of data. The study site is the Glowworm tourist cave in New Zealand. The work describes an explanatory model of processes leading to condensation using data based on measurements of condensation and evaporation as part of a single continuous process of water vapour flux. The results show that the model works well. However, one of the most important messages from the research reported here is the introduction of the condensation sensor. The results show that condensation in caves can actually be measured and monitored, virtually in real time. In conjunction with the recent developments in data logging equipment, this opens exciting perspectives in cave climate studies, and, more generally, in hydrogeological studies in karst terrains.
de Freitas, C. R. and A. Schmekal.
Studies of condensation/evaporation processes in the Glowworm Cave, New Zealand.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol35/iss2/3