Natural building stone composed of light-transmissive minerals: Impacts on thermal gradients, weathering and microbial colonization. A preliminary study, tentative interpretations, and future directions
Environmental Earth Sciences
Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa; Geography Program, University of Northern British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC V2N 4Z9, Canada
A number of modern buildings employing claddings of granites or marbles have experienced bowing of the rock panels together with weathering of the material. Theoretical and field-based data analysis and laboratory experimentation have assumed that heat exchange resulting from incoming solar radiation is at the material surface. However, a number of recent experiments have clearly shown that some lithologies, including both marble and granite, comprise a number of light-transmissive minerals that significantly change the thermal responses in the outer few millimetres of the rock. Further, this translucence will create mineral-to-mineral stresses where light-transmissive minerals are in contact with opaque ones. The whole is further exacerbated by differences in thermal coefficients of expansion and conductivity which themselves may depend on the mineral axis; surface modifiers such as paints further complicate the situation. The degree of light penetration, based on field measurements, can be significant and can facilitate rapid changes in temperature (ΔT/Δt > 2°C min-1) at depth within the rock thereby increasing the sub-surface stresses. The amount of light penetration for any given mineral will be dependent upon material slope, the latitude, season, and albedo. Albedo is identified as a complex variable, changing as a function of the angle of the sun to the particular surface; polished surfaces, as often with cladding, will further influence this. Data analysis suggests that, in the Northern hemisphere, south of the polar circle, the summer may not be the time of the largest heat loading on the southern aspect and that larger loadings, coupled with lower air temperatures, occur early and late in the year. This seasonal impact has great potential for thermal stresses on the southern aspect. The presence of light-transmissive minerals also allows sub-surface biotic colonization and results in weathering. Overall, where light transmissive minerals/lithologies occur the thermal responses are highly complex and in need of more rigorous consideration. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.
Air temperature; Building stone; Complex variable; Data analysis; Endolithic colonization weathering; Field measurement; Field-based data; Future directions; Heat exchange; Heat loading; Light penetration; Material surface; Microbial colonization; Modern buildings; Monuments; Northern Hemispheres; Polished surfaces; Rapid changes; Sub-surfaces; Surface modifiers; Thermal coefficients of expansions; Thermal response; Building materials; Data handling; Experiments; Granite; Loading; Marble; Minerals; Rocks; Silicate minerals; Soil mechanics; Solar radiation; Sun; Surface properties; Thermal expansion; Weathering; air temperature; albedo; colonization; data acquisition; granite; laboratory method; latitude; light effect; lithology; marble; measurement method; microbial activity; mineral; monument; Northern Hemisphere; rock; solar radiation; temperature effect; weathering