Pore and hygric properties of porous limestones: a case study from Bratislava, Slovakia
Marek Laho, Christoph Franzen, Rudolf Holzer, Peter W. Mirwald, 2010. "Pore and hygric properties of porous limestones: a case study from Bratislava, Slovakia", Natural Stone Resources for Historical Monuments, R Přikryl, Á Török
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Most historic stone monuments in Bratislava (Slovakia) are built with various types of porous, light and weakly cemented sedimentary rocks. These Neogene sandstones and limestones, also known as Leitha limestones, were quarried in the Vienna Basin. The various sedimentary environments are reflected in the heterogeneity of lithotypes and their cementation. The distinctly different pore structure of these rocks is reflected in their very variable physical properties and consequently in the distinct durability. Petrographic and petrophysical properties were determined on main ashlar types of the two most important historical monuments of Bratislava, the Castle and St Martin's Cathedral. Fresh samples of Leitha limestones were also obtained from the existing or abandoned quarries. The study includes a detailed petrographic examination of major rocks types and an assessment of their mineralogical composition by X-ray diffraction and microscopy. Hygric properties and porosity influence the weathering stability and the chances to apply conservation treatment. Parameters such as pore volume, pore size distribution by mercury porosimetry, specific surface of pores by nitrogen adsorption (BET) analysis as well as water sorption, capillary water uptake and drying behaviour were measured and compared for the six studied lithotypes.
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Natural stone is considered to be a versatile, durable and aesthetically pleasing building material. From the beginning of civilization, important structures and monuments have been built from, or based on, natural stone. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the use of local stone resources was mostly in balance with the local environment. Strict environmental legislation has resulted in the closing of many long-standing quarries in industrialized countries, which has led to a shortage of traditional stone varieties. This has caused problems for restoration practice. Cheap, imported stone from less industrialized countries has become more widely available in recent years.
Some of the issues related to built stone conservation and restoration covered by this volume are: the establishment of inventories of possible replacement stones; understanding the decay mechanism and use of preventive conservation methods for slowing down decay processes; evaluation of the properties of natural stone; and assessing the risks of using replacement stones of different qualities.