Oxygen in Underwater Cave
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
Update: June 2012