Characterization of serpentinites to define their appropriate use as dimension stone
Published:January 01, 2007
D. Pereira, M. Yenes, J. A. Blanco, M. Peinado, 2007. "Characterization of serpentinites to define their appropriate use as dimension stone", Building Stone Decay: From Diagnosis to Conservation, R. Přikryl, B. J. Smith
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Many questions arise when considering the appropriate use of building stones such as serpentinites. The commercial names of these rocks, collectively grouped as ‘Green marbles’, have no correspondence to their actual mineralogy, geochemistry and/or physical characteristics. Serpentinite being the hydrated product of an ultramafic parent rock and not a metamorphic product of limestone as implied by the term ‘marble’. However, the serpentinites most widely used for ornamental purposes come from India (e.g. Rajasthan Green, Emerald Green) and in these the original mineralogy has been almost completely converted into carbonates. By contrast, serpentinites from elsewhere (e.g. Vermont Verde Antique from the USA and Verde Pirineos from Spain) do preserve some of their original mineralogy. The different physical and chemical behaviour of carbonates and serpentine minerals can result in significantly different behaviour of commercial building stones. Thus, carbonates are resistant to weathering but suffer from acidic cleaning agents in interior use; whereas serpentinites, with a high content of talc, used on external faces undergo an increase in volume and a consequent rapid degradation.
Accurate and precise characterization of serpentinites, including information on their mineralogy and geochemistry (including major, trace and volatile elements together with oxygen isotopes), in conjunction with their physical properties, would enable architects to select the appropriate interior or exterior use of these handsome building stones.
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Building Stone Decay: From Diagnosis to Conservation
Stone buildings and monuments from the cultural centres of many of the world's urban areas. Frequently these areas are prone to high levels of atmospheric pollution that promote a variety of aggressive stone decay processes. Because of this, stone decay is now widely recognized as a severe threat to much of our cultural heritage. If this threat is to be successfully addressed it is essential that the symptoms of decay are clearly identified, that appropriate stone properties are accurately characterized and that decay processes are precisely identified. It is undoubtedly the case that successful conservation has to be underpinned by a comprehensive understanding of the causes of decay and the factors that control them. The accomplishment of these demanding goals requires an interdisciplinary approach based on co-operation between geologists, environmental scientists, chemists, material scientists, civil engineers, restorers and architects. In pursuit of this collaboration, this volume aims to strengthen the knowledge base dealing with the causes, consequences, prevention and solution of stone decay problems.