Spatial variability of cave-air carbon dioxide and methane concentrations and isotopic compositions in a semi-arid karst environment


Material Information

Spatial variability of cave-air carbon dioxide and methane concentrations and isotopic compositions in a semi-arid karst environment
Series Title:
Environmental Earth Sciences
McDonough, L. K.
Iverach, C. P.
Beckmann, S.
Manefield, M.
Rau, G. C.
Baker, A.
Kelly, B. F. J.
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Karst ( local )
Methane ( local )
Sink ( local )
Semi-Arid ( local )
Carbon Dioxide ( local )
Caves ( local )
Isotopic Ratio ( local )
serial ( sobekcm )


There is insufficient information on the movement of air in karst environments to constrain the uncertainty associated with quantifying sources and sinks of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) within caves for global carbon accounting. We analysed cave-air samples for their CO2 and CH4 concentrations ([CO2] and [CH4]) and carbon isotopic compositions from sampling campaigns in winter (August 2014) and summer (February 2015) at numerous heights and locations throughout Gaden and Cathedral caves, in a semi-arid environment, Wellington Caves, NSW, Australia. Ventilation is the dominant control on cave-air CO2 and CH4, with the highest cave-air CO2 concentrations ([CO2]cave) occurring in summer, in association with the lowest cave-air CH4 concentrations ([CH4]cave). Analyses show that the cave-air CO2 has both atmospheric and soil sources. Soil air and cave air in both caves undergo methanogenesis and methanotrophy, but we identify cave-specific differences in cave-air CH4 and CO2. [CH4]cave in Cathedral Cave shows an inverse relationship to [CO2]cave, particularly in areas separated from the main cave passage. In contrast, Gaden Cave has near-atmospheric [CH4]cave and isotopic ratios present at all locations sampled in winter. Where no ventilation is occurring in summer, [CH4]cave in Gaden Cave decreases, but remains reasonably high compared to Cathedral Cave. Our research shows adjacent caves vary in their ability to act as a net sink for CH4, and highlights the need for further studies before global generalisations can be made about the carbon budget of karst environments.
Original Version:
Environmental Earth Sciences, Vol. 75, no. 8 (2016-04-01).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
This object is protected by copyright, and is made available here for research and educational purposes. Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce the object beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder.

USFLDC Membership

University of South Florida
Karst Information Portal

Postcard Information



Download Options


No images or PDF downloads are available for this resource.

Cite this item close


Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.


Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.


Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.


Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.