Submitted to: Geological Society of America Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/30/2006
Publication Date: 10/25/2006
Citation: Ziegler, C., Groves, C., Meiman, J., Bolster, C.H. 2006. Processes influencing variability in cave drip water temperatures. Geological Society of America Meeting. Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 38, No. 7, P. 354; Philadelphia, PA October 2006
Technical Abstract: We have investigated five months of epikarst storage drip water temperatures along with surface air temperature and rainfall at a small waterfall in Cave Spring Caverns, Kentucky. Falling from about 4 m, water temperatures are measured within seconds of entering the cave passage with two minute, and ±0.1oC, resolution. This site, the first of a series that will be located successively deeper in the cave system, is within 100m of an entrance to determine weather air temperature variations propagating from the surface can influence drip temperatures. Results show that drip temperature fluctuated ~6oC over the study, varying over diurnal and storm timescales. At least two processes appear to drive these variations, including 1) direct contact with fluctuating air temperatures in phase with diurnal surface variations, and 2) cold or warm rainfall recharge reaching the drips before reaching a stable temperature. Diurnal fluctuations occur during cold surface periods, apparently from air moving into the cave from outside, but not during warm temperatures when the air from deeper in the cave, not subject to such diurnal variations as outside air, is apparently exiting the cave system and moving past the drips. Though conditions become more stable deeper in cave systems, a long-term goal is to understand conditions leading to potential spatial thresholds in water temperature variability, and a provisional suggestion is that drips at speleothems used in paleotemperature interpretation be tested for thermal variability before assuming stable temperatures.