Environmental Geology

, Volume 56, Issue 3–4, pp 677–688 | Cite as

Assessment of sandstone deterioration at Ta Keo temple (Angkor): first results and future prospects

  • Marie-Françoise AndréEmail author
  • Samuel Etienne
  • Denis Mercier
  • Franck Vautier
  • Olivier Voldoire
Special Issue


A first application of geomorphological methods to the assessment of sandstone deterioration at Angkor is presented. Damage diagnosis was carried out on the first eastern tier of the central pyramid of the 1,000 year-old Ta Keo temple. Methods combine field observations and measurements at 230 sampling points, high-resolution lasergrammetry and stereophotogrammetry on a 2-m2 test zone, and SEM observations. The first results indicate that decay operates through a synergistic combination of weathering phenomena dominated by scaling and solution, and exhibits a high spatial variability. Percentages of deteriorated surfaces vary from 17.6 to 93.8%, and average stone recession values from 0.00 to 2.71 cm (minimum) and 0.34 to 5.49 cm (maximum). On the test-zone, stereophotogrammetry and 3D-mapping of the present and reconstructed initial states using lasergrammetry indicate that erosion scars up to 6 cm deep have formed since 1963. On the whole, the amount of deteriorated surfaces more than tripled between 1963 and 2008. The degree of implication of salts in stone decay remains unclear for most efflorescences are composed of calcite (CaCO3), with secondary importance of barite (BaSO4) and gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O). Future prospects aim to evaluate the impact on stone decay of the clearing out of the temple from the forest in the 1920s.


Cambodia Sandstone decay Weathering rates Photogrammetry Lasergrammetry 



The Ta Keo research project is funded by the CNRS (Paris) and the Blaise Pascal University (Clermont-Ferrand). The authors express their gratitude to the APSARA National Authority, the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic site of Angkor (permanent secretariat: UNESCO) and the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient, which encouraged and facilitated this undertaking. They are also grateful to Dov Corenblit (GEOLAB) for his contribution to statistical analyses, to Thomas Warscheid (GACP) for comments on biological structures, and to Alain Barreau and Nicolas Stephan for technical assistance at the Service de Microscopie SMEBMN (Nantes University).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Françoise André
    • 1
    Email author
  • Samuel Etienne
    • 1
  • Denis Mercier
    • 2
  • Franck Vautier
    • 1
  • Olivier Voldoire
    • 1
  1. 1.GEOLAB, Laboratory of Physical and Environmental GeographyUMR 6042 CNRS Blaise Pascal UniversityClermont-Ferrand Cedex 1France
  2. 2.GEOLITTOMERUMR 6554 CNRS/Nantes UniversityNantes Cedex 3France

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