Experimental studies of near-surface temperature cycling and surface wetting of stone and its implications for salt weathering

Bernard Smith, Sudarsan Srinivasan, Miguel Gomez-Heras, Muhammed Basheer, Heather Viles

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    It has long been accepted that thermal and moisture regimes within stonework exert a major influence upon patterns of salt movement and, subsequently, the type and severity of salt-induced decay. For example, it is suggested that slow drying is more likely to bring dissolved salts to the surface, whereas rapid drying could result in the retention of some salt at or near the frequent wetting depth. In reality however, patterns of heating, cooling and surface wetting regimes that drive them – are complex and inconsistent responses to a wide range of environmental controls. As a first step to understanding the complexity of these relationships, this paper reports a series of experiments within a climatic cabinet designed to replicate the effects of short-term temperature fluctuations on the surface and sub-surface temperature regimes of a porous Jurassic limestone, and how they are influenced by surface wetting, ambient temperature and surface airflow. Preliminary results confirm the significance of very steep temperature/stress gradients within the outer centimetre or less of exposed stone under short-duration cycles of heating and cooling. This is important because this is the zone in which many stone decay processes, particularly salt weathering, operate, these processes invariably respond to temperature and moisture fluctuations, and short-term interruptions to insolation could, for example,
    trigger these fluctuations on numerous occasions over a day. The data also indicate that there are complex patterns of temperature reversal with depth that are influenced in their intensity and location by surface wetting and moisture penetration, airflow across the surface and ambient air temperature. The presence of multiple temperature reversals and their variation over the course of heating and cooling phases belies previous assumtions of smooth, exponential increases and decreases in subsurface temperatures in response, for example to diurnal patterns of heating and cooling
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008
    EventSWBSS- Salt Weathering on Buildings and Stone Sculptures - Copenhegen, Denmark
    Duration: 22 Oct 200824 Oct 2008


    ConferenceSWBSS- Salt Weathering on Buildings and Stone Sculptures


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