International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 102, Issue 5, pp 1513–1539 | Cite as

Cryogenic powderization of Triassic dolostones in the Buda Hills, Hungary

  • Zsófia PorosEmail author
  • Hans G. Machel
  • Andrea Mindszenty
  • Ferenc Molnár
Original Paper


Disintegration of dolostones to dolomite powder (powderization) was a widespread phenomenon in Triassic dolostones of the Buda Hills, where the areal extent of powdered dolostones is large compared to similar occurrences elsewhere in the world. In the Buda Hills, dolostone disintegration proceeded in four stages that correspond to a gradual decrease in particle size, that is, from the parent dolostone to (1) crackle breccia; via (2) mosaic breccia (diameter <2 cm); via (3) mosaic breccia blocks ‘floating’ in dolomite powder; to (4) dolomite powder (diameter 100–300 μm). Stable isotope ratios and trace element compositions of dolomite remained constant throughout these stages, and there are no indications of dissolution in most locations, suggesting that disintegration was predominantly a mechanical process. Combining these findings with the geological history of the region, and supported by a simple freezing/thawing experiment and pertinent experimental studies on weathering of building stones, it appears that powderization in the Buda Hills was caused by repeated freeze–thaw cycles during and/or after the Pleistocene glaciations. Subaerial exposure under cold climate conditions involves multiple freeze–thaw cycles that create mechanical stresses in the rock framework related to the opposing thermal expansion of rock and water that freezes and of ice that liquefies. This process is herewith called ‘cryogenic powderization’. Our data further suggest that the synergy of four factors promoted dolostone powderization in the Buda Hills: (1) tectonics, which created a pervasive fracture network; (2) intercrystalline porosity of the dolostone; (3) relatively high water saturation; and (4) subaerial exposure under cold climate conditions.


Cryogenic powderization Triassic dolostone Dedolomitization Physical weathering Buda Hills 



The project was initiated as part of a cooperation between Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest, Hungary) and ENI S.p.A. (Milano, Italy). Principal financial support for the research was provided by ENI S.p.A. The authors are grateful to Paola Ronchi (ENI S.p.A) for initiating and coordinating this cooperation. We also appreciate that she called our attention to the powderization of dolostones outside of Hungary and for sharing her experience related to dedolomitization. Additional financial contribution was provided by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA, project numbers K 72590 and K 81296) and also by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to H. Machel. We are thankful to Gergely Surányi for the U-Th measurements. The assistance of Orsolya Győri, Benedek Gál, and Róbert Part especially in the field work and the help of Péter Pekker and Zsolt Bendő during XRD and SEM analyses are appreciated. The authors are grateful to János Haas and Kinga Hips for thought-provoking discussions. Siegfried Siegesmund opened our eyes to the prolific literature on natural and experimental weathering of carbonate rocks. The authors are grateful to Qilong Fu and Bob Loucks for their thorough reviews.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zsófia Poros
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Hans G. Machel
    • 2
  • Andrea Mindszenty
    • 1
  • Ferenc Molnár
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Eötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.ConocoPhillips CompanyHoustonUSA
  4. 4.Geological Survey of FinlandEspooFinland

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