Methods Detail

Cave Monitoring

Our research group has been involved in the study of modern cave systems for more than a decade. The prime incentive of this physically demanding and time-consuming work is the need to „calibrate“ speleothem proxy data – for instance, trace elements -  for the present-day system. This information is crucial to reliably interpret proxy records.

The map on the left (click to enlarge) shows caves where our group has been active in cave monitoring, partly in collaboration with other teams.

Our focus have been caves in the Alps where our goal is to establish multi-annual environmental data series of cave air and dripwater discharge and composition. One of these sites, Obir Cave in southern Austria, has been monitored since 2000. There are only very few other cave sites worldwide which have such a long record.

Method development
Marc Luetscher together with Felix Ziegler (Switzerland) developed a rugged device which logs the partial pressure of carbon dioxide as well as temperature and barometric pressure. This small instrument is battery-powered and has been successfully employed in caves for periods extending one year.
For more information see this publication.