Environmental Geology

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 339–352 | Cite as

Gypsum: a review of its role in the deterioration of building materials

  • A. Elena CharolaEmail author
  • Josef Pühringer
  • Michael Steiger
Original Article


The deterioration of buildings and monuments by gypsum is the result of crystallization cycles of this salt. Although gypsum can dehydrate to a hemihydrate, the mineral bassanite, and to an anhydrate, the mineral anhydrite, this reaction occurs in nature on a geological time scale and therefore it is unlikely to occur when gypsum is found on and in building materials. The CaSO4–H2O system appears deceptively simple, however there are still discrepancies between the experimental and thermodynamically calculated data. The reason for the latter can be attributed to the slow crystallization kinetics of anhydrite. Apart from this, the large numbers of studies carried out on this system have focused on industrially important metastable phases, such as the hemihydrate and soluble anhydrite. The paper presents a review of the studies dealing with the phase equilibria of the CaSO4–H2O system as well as the influence of other salts on the solubility of gypsum. It tries to glean out the relevant information that will serve to explain the deterioration observed on building materials by the crystallization of gypsum and thus allows developing improved conservation methods.


Gypsum Solubility Deterioration action Phases Crystallization kinetics 



The authors gratefully acknowledge Christine Bläuer Böhm, Konrad Zehnder and Andreas Kueng for providing information on the natural occurrence of bassanite on building materials.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Elena Charola
    • 1
    Email author
  • Josef Pühringer
    • 2
  • Michael Steiger
    • 3
  1. 1.WMF-P, Mosteiro dos JerónimosLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.TäbySweden
  3. 3.Chemistry Department, Inorganic and Applied ChemistryUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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