UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis
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Karstbase Bibliography Database

FernáNdez-CortéS, A
Microclimatic characterization of caves and analysis of the antropic impact for touristic use, phd thesis

The conservation and protection of caves requires suitable management tools that are based on a detailed knowledge of the environmental parameters of karst areas. The main tool for karst management is the definition and delimitation of protected areas and, in the case of tourist caves, an estimation of the visitor carrying capacity. This doctoral thesis deals with the most important methodologies related to the monitoring of cave microclimates, and focuses on show caves. The use of a great quantity of environmental data derived from different caves in southern Spain has required the use of several statistical techniques to meet the objective of simplifying and revaluating this environmental information. It is expected that the main focus of interest of this research thesis to managers of these geo-heritage sites lies in the possibility of incorporating the results of cave environmental monitoring into an integrated model of management, which also contemplates socio-economic aspects. The analysis of microclimates in each of the caves under study is dealt with in different ways depending on the type of data recorded within each one of them. Caves such as the 'Cueva del Agua' and 'Cueva de las Ventanas' are typified by the spatiotemporal behavior of the main microclimatic variables, such as the temperature and carbon dioxide content of the air. This information about the 'zero state' of the cave is complemented by an analysis of the infiltration processes and a study of the air-mass exchange phenomena. In the Sorbas karst, the design and installation of an intelligent environmental control system inside one of the potential tourist caves (System Covadura) allowed an extensive time series database to be assembled, which together with information about the spatial microclimate, comprises the base knowledge of the initial state of the cave before any tourist activities are authorized. The Giant Geode of Pulpí (Almería, Spain) represents an exceptional case with characteristics that are distinct from show caves as defined in the strictest sense of the term. The uniqueness of this site in terms of its fragility and dimension, together with the imminent need to adopt measures for its protection, resulted in the execution of an exhaustive microclimatic study in order to evaluate the possibility of opening the geode to tourists.

antropic impact, microclimatic characterization of caves