New insights on the consolidation of salt weathered limestone: the case study of Modica stone

  • Silvestro A. RuffoloEmail author
  • Mauro F. La Russa
  • Michela Ricca
  • Cristina M. Belfiore
  • Andrea Macchia
  • Valeria Comite
  • Antonino Pezzino
  • Gino M. Crisci
Original Paper


The deterioration of a stone material is related to its pore structure, which affects the interaction between surface and environmental agents. Indeed, salt crystallization is one of the most dangerous weathering agents in porous building materials. The crystallization pressure of salt crystals, growing in confined pores, is found to be the main cause for damage. The consolidation of such degraded stone materials represents a crucial issue in the field of restoration of cultural heritage. This paper presents the results of a laboratory experimentation carried out on Modica stone, a limestone largely used in the Baroque architecture of eastern Sicily. Several specimens, collected from a historical quarry near the city of Modica, were artificially degraded by salt crystallization tests. Then, degraded samples were treated with three different consolidating products: a suspension of nanolime in alcohol, a suspension of nanosilica in water, and ethyl silicate dispersed in white spirit. A systematic approach, including mercury intrusion porosimetry, peeling tests and point load test, was used to evaluate the correlation between the salt crystallization and the micro-structural features of the limestone, as well as the efficacy of treatments. The consolidating behavior of the tested products was also appraised by repeating salt crystallization tests after consolidation, in order to assess the resistance of treated stone to further salt crystallization phenomena. Results showed that nanolime provides a good resistance to the stone; conversely, ethyl silicate, although inducing an enhancement of stone cohesion, leads to an increase of the crystallization pressure, which generates dangerous susceptibility to weathering.


Modica stone Salt weathering Stone consolidation Nanolime Nanosilica 



This research was supported by the Italian national project “Polo di Innovazione dei Beni Culturali”.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvestro A. Ruffolo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mauro F. La Russa
    • 1
  • Michela Ricca
    • 1
  • Cristina M. Belfiore
    • 2
  • Andrea Macchia
    • 3
  • Valeria Comite
    • 1
  • Antonino Pezzino
    • 2
  • Gino M. Crisci
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Biologia, Ecologia e Scienze della Terra (DiBEST)Università della CalabriaCosenzaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali, Sezione di Scienze della TerraUniversità di CataniaCataniaItaly
  3. 3.YOuth in COnservation of CUltural Heritage, YOCOCURomeItaly

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