• Artificial CO2 was injected in ventilated karst conduits (caves and mines), to assess the airflow
  • Geometrical conduit parameters, air velocity, and tracer dispersion were also carried out
  • The 1-D advection-dispersion model was compared with measured breakthrough curves
  • The theory of dispersion is also compared with dipersion inferred from field data
  • BTC tailing may stem from dead-flow zones that enhance aerosol deposition


Artificial CO2 was used as a tracer along ventilated karst conduits to infer airflow and investigate tracer dispersion. In the karst vadose zone, cave ventilation is an efficient mode of transport for heat, gases and aerosols and thus drives the spatial distribution of airborne particles. Modelling this airborne transport requires geometrical and physical parameters of the conduit system, including the cross-sectional areas, the airflow and average air speed, as well as the longitudinal dispersion coefficient which describes the spreading of a solute. Four gauging tests were carried out in one mine (artificial conduit) and two ventilated caves (natural conduits). In this paper, we demonstrate that it is possible to gain reliable airflow rates and geometric information of ventilated karst conduits using CO2 as a tracer. Airflow was gauged along two caves and one mine and compared with punctual measurements made with a hot-wire anemometer. Cross-sectional areas estimated with CO2 tests were compared with those measured in situ. Moreover, breakthrough curve (BTC) analysis displayed an accentuated tailing along the investigated natural conduits due to the presence of dispersive singularities which possibly enable aerosol deposition. The long tailing observed in Milandre and Longeaigue Caves is probably due to cross-section variations. A 1-D advection-dispersion model tested for these sites was unable to fit BTC tailing in natural conduits. In Baulmes artificial conduit, where long tailing is not observed, the dispersion coefficient has been estimated using Chatwin’s method, and compared with the prediction of Taylor’s theory. Despite the regular geometry of Baulmes Mine, Taylor’s correlation significantly underestimates the dispersion coefficient deduced from field data, showing the need for more theoretical work on turbulent dispersion in mines. This paper gives a first insight into air motion and matter dispersion along ventilated karst conduits, preparing for proper aerosol dispersion modelling.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Pastore etal.ris (1 kB)
Export RIS