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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
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Research article 25 Apr 2018

Research article | 25 Apr 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Pipes to Earth's subsurface: The role of atmospheric conditions in controlling air transport through boreholes and shafts

Elad Levintal1, Nadav G. Lensky2, Amit Mushkin3, and Noam Weisbrod1 Elad Levintal et al.
  • 1Environmental Hydrology and Microbiology, The Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben - Gurion University of the Negev, Midreshet Ben - Gurion 8499000, Israel
  • 2Geological Survey of Israel, Jerusalem 9 550161, Israel
  • 3Department of Earth & Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle WA 98105 , USA

Abstract. Understanding air exchange dynamics between underground cavities (e.g., caves, mines, boreholes, etc.) and the atmosphere is significant for the exploration of gas transport across the Earth-atmosphere interface. Here, we investigated the role of atmospheric conditions in air transport inside boreholes through in-situ observations. Three geometries were explored: (1) a narrow and deep shaft (0.1m and 27m, respectively), ending in a large underground cavity; (2) the same shaft after the pipe was lowered and separated from the cavity; and (3) a deep large-diameter borehole (3.4m and 59m, respectively). Absolute humidity was found to be a reliable proxy for distinguishing between atmospheric and cavity air masses and thus to explore air transport through the three geometries. Airflow directions in the first two narrow-diameter geometries were found to be driven by changes in barometric pressure whereas airflow in the large-diameter geometry was correlated primarily to the diurnal cycles of ambient atmospheric temperature. High CO2 concentrations (~2000ppm) were found in all three geometries, which can indicate that the airflow to the atmosphere is also significant to the investigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

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