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Publication Detail
A Geological Perspective on Climate Change and Building Stone Deterioration in London: Implications for Urban Stone-Built Heritage Research and Management
The decay rates of building stones and, the processes leading to their deterioration is governed by intrinsic properties such as texture, mineralogy, porosity and pore size distribution, along with other extrinsic factors related to the climate and anthropogenic activities. For urban cities such as London, the influence of extrinsic factors like temperature and rainfall, as well as the concentrations of air pollutants, such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides, along with the emissions of carbonaceous aerosols, can be particularly significant. While considering the long-term preservation of building stones used in various heritage sites in the city, it is imperative to consider how the stone could be affected by the changing air pollutant concentrations, superimposed on the effects of climate change in the region, including rising average annual temperature and precipitation with a hotter, drier summer and, warmer, wetter winter months. This paper deals with the intrinsic rock properties of the common building stones of London, including limestone, marble, granite, sandstone, slate, flint as well as bricks, building on known characteristics including strength and durability that determine how and where they are placed in a building structure. The study reviews how these stones decay due to different processes such as salt weathering in sandstone, microcracking of quartz with kaolinisation of K-feldspar and biotite in granite and dissolution of calcite and dolomite, followed by precipitation of sulphate minerals in the carbonate rocks of limestone and marble. In the urban environment of London, with progressive build up in the concentration of atmospheric nitrogen oxides leading to an increasingly acidic environment and, with predicted climate change, the diverse stone-built heritage will be affected. For example, there can be enhanced carbonate dissolution in limestone with increased annual precipitation. Due to the prolonged wetter winter, any sandstone building stone will also undergo greater damage with a deeper wetting front. On the other hand, due to predicted wetter and warmer winter months, microcracking of any plagioclase in a granite is unlikely, thereby reducing the access of fluid and air pollutants to the Ca-rich core of the zoned crystals limiting the process of sericitisation. Management of the building stones in London should include routine expert visual inspection for signs of deterioration, along with mineralogical and compositional analyses and assessment of any recession rate.
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Dept of Civil, Environ &Geomatic Eng
Dept of Earth Sciences
Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources
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