Real-time condition assessment of a painted megalithic cave using Wireless Sensor Network

dc.contributor.authorWang, Chaoen
dc.contributor.authorTavares, Aliceen
dc.contributor.authorFonseca, Jorgeen
dc.contributor.authorSoares, Filipeen
dc.contributor.authorLi, Zilien
dc.contributor.funderScience Foundation Irelanden
dc.contributor.funderEuropean Cooperation in Science and Technologyen
dc.contributor.funderUniversidade de Aveiroen
dc.contributor.funderTransport Infrastructure Irelanden
dc.contributor.funderRegional Operational Programme Centroen
dc.description.abstractThe deterioration of underground heritage caves caused by visitations has attracted extensive attention over the recent decades. Most previous research focused on investigating the impact of visitors on the microclimatic conditions of the interior of large show caves, but much less relevant effort was made for small confined caves, for example, megalithic burial dolmen caves. In addition to environmental condition issues, the structural performance of underground heritage caves also deteriorates in the long-term subject to both natural hazards (e.g. creep in geo-materials and extreme weather) and manmade ones (e.g. construction activities). To this end, a real-time Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) system is deployed inside an underground megalithic dolmen to monitor its structural performance with time so as to assess its long-term structural stability. Meanwhile, the WSN system together with other field sensors and inspection monitors the interior environmental change caused by human visitation effect, aiming to reveal the mechanism behind visitor-caused rock painting deterioration in the small confined dolmen chamber. Results show that structurally, the dolmen can be regarded as generally stable despite a progressive development of structural performance during the first 1.5 months and accidental instability of the near-opening pillar A. In terms of environmental condition, the presence of visitors leads to significant changes of interior microclimatic conditions frequently inside the confined cave against consistent rock painting conservation. Particularly, the cave paintings may deteriorate critically with time as visitation induces a ‘hotbed’ environment for interactions between microorganisms and microstructures of the rock paintings due to the variations of interior microclimate. To ensure long-term structural stability and restore acceptable level of interior microclimate, tinted hydraulic lime and steel rod/brace were recommended for enhancing structural robustness and a mechanical ventilation system for improving environmental resilience of the dolmen. A generalized monitoring approach was proposed for the reference of other similar caves.en
dc.description.sponsorshipScience Foundation Ireland, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and European Cooperation in Science and Technology (Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM) of European COST Action CA18110 - Underground Built Heritage as catalyser for Community Valorisation); European Commission (Regional Operational Programme Centro); Universidade de Aveiro (CICECO and the RISCO from the University of Aveiro)en
dc.description.statusPeer revieweden
dc.description.versionAccepted Versionen
dc.identifier.citationWang, C., Tavares, A., Fonseca, J., Soares, F. and Li, Z. (2022) ‘Real-time condition assessment of a painted megalithic cave using Wireless Sensor Network’, Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology, 120, p. 104270. Available at:
dc.identifier.journaltitleTunnelling and Underground Space Technologyen
dc.relation.ispartofTunnelling and Underground Space Technologyen
dc.rights© 2021 Elsevier Ltd. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
dc.subjectWireless sensor networken
dc.subjectLong-term structural performanceen
dc.subjectEnvironmental conditionsen
dc.subjectHuman visitation impacten
dc.subjectRock painting deteriorationen
dc.subjectGeneralised approachen
dc.titleReal-time condition assessment of a painted megalithic cave using Wireless Sensor Networken
dc.typeArticle (peer-reviewed)en
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