Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 63, Issue 7, pp 1565–1572

Flaw propagation and buckling in clay-bearing sandstones


  • Timothy P. Wangler
    • Institute for Technology in Architecture, ETH Zürich
    • Empa Swiss Federal Institute for Materials Testing and Research
  • Alisa Stratulat
    • Department of MaterialsUniversity of Oxford
  • Philippa Duffus
    • Department of MaterialsUniversity of Oxford
  • Jean H. Prévost
    • Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringPrinceton University
    • Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringPrinceton University
Special Issue

DOI: 10.1007/s12665-010-0732-y

Cite this article as:
Wangler, T.P., Stratulat, A., Duffus, P. et al. Environ Earth Sci (2011) 63: 1565. doi:10.1007/s12665-010-0732-y


Many historically and culturally significant buildings have sandstones that contain swelling clay inclusions in the binding phase. Differential strains that evolve during wetting and drying cycles can generate stresses that are on the order of the strength of the stone, leading to degradation. Most damage observed in the field is surface delamination and buckling of the stone over a flaw, indicating that the damage is occurring during wetting. Classical buckling theory predicts buckling to occur at a particular aspect ratio, or flaw size. The results of this study confirm buckling theory experimentally. Through finite-element simulation and experiment, the study then explores a potential flaw propagation mechanism whereby nonuniform wetting patterns generate stress intensities capable of flaw propagation. As a result, small natural flaws can grow to the critical size necessary for buckling.


ClaySwellingStressFinite-element analysisCrack growthBucklingCultural heritage

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010