The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) has long maintained a program of research into the deterioration and treatment of stone materials. Early investigations assessed the biodeterioration susceptibility of stone consolidants, evaluated the deterioration of monumental stones in situ, and examined the use of epoxy resins for stone consolidation.

The prevention of deterioration of stone materials used in works of art and in construction is of widespread interest. While many studies have considered the physical and chemical mechanisms that contribute to such deterioration, prior to the GCI's work, little research focused on the problem of microorganisms exacerbating the deterioration of stone. In collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Bloomfield College, the GCI initiated a large-scale project to assess the biodeterioration susceptibility of stone consolidants. Sixteen polymers and resins important in preserving art materials, particularly stone, were evaluated for their ability to support fungal growth.

In a project with the University of Oviedo in Spain, a nondestructive ultrasonic procedure was used to evaluate the relative deterioration of monumental stones in situ. Ultrasonic waves were introduced into rock and processed to evaluate the ultrasonic parameters of velocity, amplitude, duration, energy, and count number. The procedure was applied to the stonework of two Spanish monasteries: El Escorial, Madrid, built with granodiorite, and Sta. Maria de Ripoll, Gerona, built with sandstone. Possible areas of application include assessments of the stability of rock foundations of monuments; stability of monuments as architectural objects; states of stress and characterization of rock masonry; and treatments applied to stones after conservation programs.

A third project analyzed the literature on the use of epoxy resins for stone preservation and included research and documentation on buildings treated with epoxies, including failures and successes. In related research, scientists examined the limestone used in the construction of Maya structures at Xunantunich, Belize. Tests revealed deterioration and weaknesses in stone caused by active microfloral growth, cyclic changes in humidity and temperature, and exposure to the erosive effects of wind and rain. Limestone samples were consolidated using water-compatible and other consolidants, and were exposed to both sunny and shaded tropical environments for one year.

Related Scientific Research Abstracts

  • 3.1 Assessment of the Biodeterioration Susceptibility of Stone Consolidant
  • 3.2 Evaluation In Situ of the State of Deterioration of Monumental Stones by Non-Destructive Sonic Techniques
  • 3.7 The Use of Epoxy Resins for Stone Consolidation

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