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

Elad Levintal, Nadav G. Lensky, Amit Mushkin, Noam Weisbrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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 controlling air transport inside boreholes using in situ field measurements. Three geometries were explored: (1) a narrow and deep shaft (0.1 m wide and 27 m deep), 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 (59 m deep and 3.4 m wide). Absolute humidity was found to be a reliable proxy for distinguishing between atmospheric and cavity air masses (mainly during the winter and spring seasons) 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 with the diurnal cycles of ambient atmospheric temperature. CO2 concentrations of ∼ 2000 ppm were found in all three geometries, indicating that airflow from the Earth's subsurface into the atmosphere may also be significant in the investigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1141-1153
Number of pages13
JournalEarth System Dynamics
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Sep 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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