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Content archived on 2024-04-19

Marine spray and polluted atmosphere as factors of damage to monuments in the Mediterranean coastal environment


The project aims to make a scientific study of the climatic and environmental influences on the process of weathering and the problems of stone decay of monuments, in the Mediterranean coastal areas of southern Europe, with particular attention to the effects of marine salts acting together with atmospheric pollutants. The second objective concerns the development of a study methodology which, based on appropriate and interdisciplinary analytical techniques, is able to identify the characteristics of stones that can aid the understanding of the weathering phenomena. This will help provide a basis for identifying the most suitable conservation techniques and practices.

To understand the relationship between environmental factors and damage to the cultural heritage along the Mediterranean coast, where a corrosive marine environment acts together with air pollutants, pilot monuments located along the east-west axis of the Mediterranean will be studied.
The monuments selected are: the Cathedral of Cadiz (Spain), the Cathedral of Bari (Italy), and the Temple of Eleusis (Greece). The comparison of these three locations will be supplemented by data which will be gathered in Malta (the Church of Sta. Marija Ta' Cuerra, Siggiewi). The research programme includes the following principal functional parts:

1) Monitoring of environmental and micro-environmental parameters including microclimate variation, rising damp, air sampling for suspended particulates, run-off water characterization, characterization of aerosols, and identification of trace organic compounds. For the latter, fourier transform ion cyclotious resonance mans spectrometry will be used. Newer methods of data processing, e.g. signal analysis will be employed.

2) Systematic mineralogical, petrographical and chemical examination of weathered stones and crusts on the surfaces of the stones formed as a result of atmospheric pollution, on samples from different parts of the monument, in relation to the conditions of exposure to rain and the characteristics of the surface alteration including the formation of black crusts and the grow
3) Comparison of non-destructive dating techniques for crhonological information on the organic components contaminating stones. An attempt will be made to develop concentration-time correlations for organisms (e.g. lichens colonies) growth.

4) Analysis of the physical and mechanical characteristics of the weathered surfaces and walls. A goal is the development of a model of the stone pore structure and its effects on the mechanical properties of stone.

5) Mapping of weathered monuments using non-destructive techniques in the in situ evaluation of damage. Ultra-sound and false color techniques will be applied to the systematic evaluation of damage.

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Comunità delle Università Mediterranee
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Piazza Umberto I 1
70121 Bari

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Participants (7)