Evaporative Moisture Loss from Heterogeneous Stone: Material- Environment Interactions During Drying

Daniel McAllister, Patricia Warke, Stephen McCabe, Miguel Gomez-Heras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
585 Downloads (Pure)


The complexities of evaporation from structurally and mineralogically heterogeneous sandstone (Locharbriggs Sandstone) are investigated through a laboratory-based experiment in which a variety of environmental conditions are simulated. Data reported demonstrate the significance of material-environment interactions on the spatial and temporal variability of evaporative dynamics. Evaporation from porous stone is determined by the interplay between environmental, material and solution properties, which govern the rate and mode by which water is transmitted to, and subsequently removed from, an evaporating surface. Initially evaporation is marked by high rates of moisture loss controlled by external atmospheric conditions; then, when a critical level of surface moisture content is reached, hydraulic continuity between the stone surface and subsurface is disrupted and the drying front recedes
beneath the surface, evaporation rates decrease and are controlled by the ability of the material to transport water vapour to the surface. Pore size distribution and connectivity, as well as other material properties, control the timing of each stage of evaporation and the nature of the transition.

These experimental data highlight the complexity of evaporation, demonstrating that different regions of the same stone can exhibit varying moisture dynamics during drying and that the rate and nature of evaporative loss differs under different environmental conditions. The results identify the importance of material-environment interactions during drying and that stone micro-environmental conditions cannot be inferred from ambient data alone.
These data have significance for understanding the spatial distribution of stone surface weathering-related morphologies in both the natural and built environments where mineralogical and/or structural heterogeneity creates differences in moisture flux and hence variable drying rates. Such differences may provide a clearer explanation for the initiation and subsequent development of complex weathering responses where areas of significant deterioration can be found alongside areas that exhibit little or no evidence surface breakdown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-322
Number of pages15
Early online date05 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2016


  • evaporation
  • sandstone
  • porosity
  • permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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