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Deterioration of dolostone by magnesium sulphate salt: An example of incompatible building materials at Bonaval Monastery, Spain

AuthorsLópez-Arce, Paula ; García-Guinea, Javier ; Benavente, David; Tormo, Laura ; Doehne, Eric
KeywordsStone deterioration
Salt decay
Magnesium sulphate
Issue Date12-May-2008
CitationConstruction and Building Materials (2008)
AbstractSince its abandonment 185 years ago, the XII century Santa Maria de Bonaval Monastery located in Guadalajara (Spain) has suffered significant deterioration: first the roof was lost, followed by partial collapse of the walls, moisture infiltration and extensive loss of stone surfaces due to salt weathering. This case study is a clear example of the incompatibility of some building materials: in this case, the combination of sulphate-bearing mortars and magnesium-rich stone and mortars leading to extensive weathering by magnesium sulphate crystallization. Samples of plaster, bedding and core mortars, stone fragments and flakes, salt crust and powders were collected, as well stone samples from the historic quarries located close to the Monastery. Characterization by XRD (X-ray diffraction), ESEM-EDS (environmental scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy) shows that the most important stone-type used in the structure, dolostone, is mainly affected by magnesium sulphate salts (epsomite, MgSO4 · 7H2O), although other salts as kalicinite (KHCO3) and mercallite (KHSO4) were also detected. The connected porosity and pore size distribution determined by mercury intrusion porosimetry and capillarity behaviour suggest that the core mortar could easily be dissolved and the stone, plaster and bedding mortars are able to transport infiltrating solutions, giving rise to the precipitation of magnesium sulphate in the mortar joints and over the surface of the stone. Due to their chemical incompatibility, the combination of sulphate and magnesium-bearing mortars and stone with high magnesium content appears to be problematic and should be avoided in future restoration work.
Description10 pages (final publisher version), 27 pages (post-print version, attached).-- Article in press.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2008.04.001
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