, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 1-14

Damage evaluation and conservation treatment of the tenth century Korean rock-carved Buddha statues

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Abstract

This study focuses on the lithological characterization, quantitative deterioration assessment and conservation treatment of the tenth century rock-carved Buddha statues in Korea. The Buddha statues were carved on light gray macrocrystalline biotite granite, and features microcline phenocrysts and pegmatite patches. The rock-forming minerals are quartz, plagioclase, microcline and biotite showing micrographic and porphyritic textures. Feldspars and biotite in the host rock have been partly altered into sericite and chlorite by weathering. The surface of the Buddha statues is remarkably irregular due to granular disintegration and the differential weathering of the quartz and microcline. In addition, horizontal and vertical cracks in the host rock have promoted mechanical weathering. Biological colonization of the statues was serious, and featured dark gray and yellowish green lichen, dark green bryophyte and some plants. The Buddha statues were evaluated as the highly weathered rock by ultrasonic survey. The lower parts under the influence of water and areas with severely broken surfaces showed a much more advanced weathering grade. Therefore, scientific conservation treatment was carried out for the long-term maintenance and conservation of the Buddha statues. After pretests, dry, wet and chemical cleanings were applied to the statues. Next, joining of cracked parts and surface consolidating were executed. Finally, the site environment was improved by installation of drain and trimming trees around the statues to ensure more stable long-term conservation.