Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Oxygen in Underwater Cave
Name: Natalie
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Location: HI
Country: USA
Date: Spring 2011

Is it possible for there to be free oxygen in an underwater cave? If it is, then how does it work?

Yes it is possible as I have personally experienced.

If the cave roof rises to a level above the water, air dissolved in the water will slowly out gas until the water is at the same level at all places. A pocket of breathable air will form.

In many caves the roof dips below water level in one place but it above it on both sides. Think of a U shaped tube where the bottom of the U is blocked by water. This is called a siphon and I have passed through many of these to find breathable air on the other side.

R. W. "Bob" Avakian Oklahoma State Univ. Inst. of Technology

Click here to return to the Environmental and Earth Science Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory