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This paper presents a study of stone decay on the Basílica da Estrela, the most famous 18th century monument in the city of Lisbon, Portugal. It was built with Jurassic and Cretaceous limestones from the surroundings of Lisbon. Different approaches were used to establish the typology, causes and processes of the major weathering forms. Limestone samples from ancient quarries, salt efflorescences and disintegrated stone material from the interior of the church were characterized by chemical, mineralogical and petrographical analyses. Limestone physical properties related to fluid percolation were also determined. Detailed surveys of stone decay phenomena were carried out on the monument. Textures of grey-level images representative of the weathering forms were analysed by image analysis through covariance and granulometry operators. An HIDSPEC computational hydrogeochemical model, phase and graphical diagrams, and multivariate statistical analysis were used for water–rock interaction studies. Physical weathering forms prevail inside the church. The yellow Cretaceous limestone is the most deteriorated stone. This observation compares well with its intrinsic properties. The weathering is determined by the stone structures, such as stilolytes and fossils, and architectural features (geometry and surface finish). Soluble salts such as trona and thenardite were only found in a very small area inside the church.

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