Ive been having a look through some films recently of diving within caves around the world and it got me thinking about the waste or exhailed gases left behind by divers. Cave diving appears to me that it is becoming more popular recently as with the increased popularity the results are an increase of redundant exhailed gas which stays at the high pointss within the cave system. During recent trips to the red sea and the most famous wreck the Thistlegorm work has been carried out to reudce the amount of gas left behind as it was causing the rusting process of the wreck to be accelerated.
Now I'm certainly no science bod but from what i can remember the structures and formations within some of these caves are lime stone dposits mixed with water & now O2 of varing percentages must be having a chemical reaction to these beautiful scenes which could be being destroyed without realising this.
Does anybody have any evidence that this is not the case
As cave diver, I saw a big destruction on mud structures, like percolation, wich cleans the roof for next divers along main line. About Lime stone, the mix of CO2 with water, destroy the cave structures, but the amount of CO2 exhaled is little in comparision of the CO2 captured from atmosfere by the rain drops, wich ends in the same caves.
Caves, like wrecks is always changing. Caves much more slower than wrecks, but the real bad impact the cave community does is to destroy stalactites because they have no buoyancy skills or good propulsion techniques and hit the roof or stalagmites, etc... much more (million time more) than the exhaled gas.
A lot of the exhaled gas doesn't remain in the cave, mostly escapes by fall land breaks, and other dissolve in water after a long time. Only a little gas remains on the roof probably accelerating corrosion of stone, but I didn't saw it before, in my experience I have no certain evidences of it.
Best, from Spain.
CO2, when combined with water, forms carbonic acid CO2 + H2O = H2CO3. Carbonic acid dissolves the carbonates that are the principle minerals in cave/karst areas. This mechanism is the usual mechanism by which solution caves are formed. The effect of the CO2 in a divers exhalations on the cave is unknown, though likely negligible. I think there is a study underway somewhere to look at the effects. Air is about 0.033% CO2 when inspired and a human's exhalation is about 4.4% CO2. This is dependent on metabolic rate and nothing else.
It is far more likely that the major changes in caves caused by divers are mechanical as opposed to chemical. Poor skills are likely a major factor with percolation being secondary. This is certainly worth considering, especially with the growth of cave diving as a business.
Groundwater pollution is also a major concern, especially in populous areas with little or no environmental regulation.