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Bubble-induced cave collapse.

Girihagama L, Nof D, Hancock C - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Using familiar theories for the strength of flat and arched (un-cracked) beams, we first show that the flat ceiling of a submerged limestone cave can have a horizontal expanse of 63 meters.Using familiar bubble dynamics, fluid dynamics of bubble-induced flows, and accustomed diving practices, we show that a group of 1-3 divers submerged below a loosely connected ceiling rock will quickly trigger it to fall causing a "collapse".In these experiments, a metal ball represented the rock (attached to the cave ceiling with a magnet), and the bubbles were produced using a syringe located at the cave floor.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Conventional wisdom among cave divers is that submerged caves in aquifers, such as in Florida or the Yucatan, are unstable due to their ever-growing size from limestone dissolution in water. Cave divers occasionally noted partial cave collapses occurring while they were in the cave, attributing this to their unintentional (and frowned upon) physical contact with the cave walls or the aforementioned "natural" instability of the cave. Here, we suggest that these cave collapses do not necessarily result from cave instability or contacts with walls, but rather from divers bubbles rising to the ceiling and reducing the buoyancy acting on isolated ceiling rocks. Using familiar theories for the strength of flat and arched (un-cracked) beams, we first show that the flat ceiling of a submerged limestone cave can have a horizontal expanse of 63 meters. This is much broader than that of most submerged Florida caves (~ 10 m). Similarly, we show that an arched cave roof can have a still larger expanse of 240 meters, again implying that Florida caves are structurally stable. Using familiar bubble dynamics, fluid dynamics of bubble-induced flows, and accustomed diving practices, we show that a group of 1-3 divers submerged below a loosely connected ceiling rock will quickly trigger it to fall causing a "collapse". We then present a set of qualitative laboratory experiments illustrating such a collapse in a circular laboratory cave (i.e., a cave with a circular cross section), with concave and convex ceilings. In these experiments, a metal ball represented the rock (attached to the cave ceiling with a magnet), and the bubbles were produced using a syringe located at the cave floor.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

A rectangular beam.The cross-sectional area, BH (not shown, B and H are beam width and height, respectively), represents the roof covering the cave tunnel. The beam rests loosely on the sidewalls, where L and W are the beam span and self-weight, respectively. Water flow in the cave is into the paper, denoted by ⊗.
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pone.0122349.g004: A rectangular beam.The cross-sectional area, BH (not shown, B and H are beam width and height, respectively), represents the roof covering the cave tunnel. The beam rests loosely on the sidewalls, where L and W are the beam span and self-weight, respectively. Water flow in the cave is into the paper, denoted by ⊗.

Mentions: Consider the situation in Fig 3a, shown as a 2D image in Fig 4 for ease of understanding. The rectangular rock, with a cross-sectional area BH (where B and H are rock width and height, respectively), represents the roof covering the cave tunnel. The cave span next to the ceiling is L, where the rectangular rock, loosely resting on the sidewalls, is taken to be slightly longer than L. Note that variables are defined in the text.


Bubble-induced cave collapse.

Girihagama L, Nof D, Hancock C - PLoS ONE (2015)

A rectangular beam.The cross-sectional area, BH (not shown, B and H are beam width and height, respectively), represents the roof covering the cave tunnel. The beam rests loosely on the sidewalls, where L and W are the beam span and self-weight, respectively. Water flow in the cave is into the paper, denoted by ⊗.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4388830&req=5

pone.0122349.g004: A rectangular beam.The cross-sectional area, BH (not shown, B and H are beam width and height, respectively), represents the roof covering the cave tunnel. The beam rests loosely on the sidewalls, where L and W are the beam span and self-weight, respectively. Water flow in the cave is into the paper, denoted by ⊗.
Mentions: Consider the situation in Fig 3a, shown as a 2D image in Fig 4 for ease of understanding. The rectangular rock, with a cross-sectional area BH (where B and H are rock width and height, respectively), represents the roof covering the cave tunnel. The cave span next to the ceiling is L, where the rectangular rock, loosely resting on the sidewalls, is taken to be slightly longer than L. Note that variables are defined in the text.

Bottom Line: Using familiar theories for the strength of flat and arched (un-cracked) beams, we first show that the flat ceiling of a submerged limestone cave can have a horizontal expanse of 63 meters.Using familiar bubble dynamics, fluid dynamics of bubble-induced flows, and accustomed diving practices, we show that a group of 1-3 divers submerged below a loosely connected ceiling rock will quickly trigger it to fall causing a "collapse".In these experiments, a metal ball represented the rock (attached to the cave ceiling with a magnet), and the bubbles were produced using a syringe located at the cave floor.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Conventional wisdom among cave divers is that submerged caves in aquifers, such as in Florida or the Yucatan, are unstable due to their ever-growing size from limestone dissolution in water. Cave divers occasionally noted partial cave collapses occurring while they were in the cave, attributing this to their unintentional (and frowned upon) physical contact with the cave walls or the aforementioned "natural" instability of the cave. Here, we suggest that these cave collapses do not necessarily result from cave instability or contacts with walls, but rather from divers bubbles rising to the ceiling and reducing the buoyancy acting on isolated ceiling rocks. Using familiar theories for the strength of flat and arched (un-cracked) beams, we first show that the flat ceiling of a submerged limestone cave can have a horizontal expanse of 63 meters. This is much broader than that of most submerged Florida caves (~ 10 m). Similarly, we show that an arched cave roof can have a still larger expanse of 240 meters, again implying that Florida caves are structurally stable. Using familiar bubble dynamics, fluid dynamics of bubble-induced flows, and accustomed diving practices, we show that a group of 1-3 divers submerged below a loosely connected ceiling rock will quickly trigger it to fall causing a "collapse". We then present a set of qualitative laboratory experiments illustrating such a collapse in a circular laboratory cave (i.e., a cave with a circular cross section), with concave and convex ceilings. In these experiments, a metal ball represented the rock (attached to the cave ceiling with a magnet), and the bubbles were produced using a syringe located at the cave floor.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus