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Reasons for large fluctuation of radon and CO2 levels in a dead-end passage of a karst cave (Postojna Cave, Slovenia)

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Abstract:

Measurements of radon concentration were performed at three geomorphologically different locations in Postojna Cave, Slovenia. In the part of the cave open to visitors, annual average radon activity concentrations of 3255 ± 1190 Bq m 3 and 2315 ± 1019 Bq m 3 were found at the lowest point (LP) and in the Lepe jame (Beautiful Caves, BC), respectively. A much higher average of 25 020 ± 12 653 Bq m 3 was characteristic of the dead-end passage Pisani rov (Gaily Coloured Corridor, GC), in which CO2 concentration also reached very high values of 4689 ± 294 ppm in summer. Seasonal variations of radon and CO2 levels in the cave are governed by convective airflow, controlled mainly by the temperature difference between the cave and the outside atmosphere. The following additional sources of radon and CO2 were considered: (i) flux of geogas from the Earth's crust through fractured rocks (radon and CO2 source), (ii) clay sediments inside the passage (radon source) and (iii) the soil layer above the cave (radon and CO2 source).

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