Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 1433–1447 | Cite as

Application of laser ablation ICP-MS and traditional techniques to the study of black crusts on building stones: a new methodological approach

  • Donatella Barca
  • Cristina Maria Belfiore
  • Gino Mirocle Crisci
  • Mauro Francesco La Russa
  • Antonino Pezzino
  • Silvestro Antonio Ruffolo
Research Article



In this work, we propose an innovative application of laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) as a methodological approach for the chemical characterisation of black crusts on stone monuments, associated with traditional micro-morphological (optical and scanning electron microscopy) and infrared spectroscopic techniques (FTIR).


This new approach was tested on black crusts developing on two marble substrates, one, the columns of the San Cosimato cloister in Rome, and the other, a sculpture representing an angel, located in Pessano con Bornago, a small industrial town near Milan.


The main aim of this study was to develop and test the reliability of the LA-ICP-MS analytical method on black crusts and to explore the idea that trace element concentrations in black crusts can be applied to investigate their origin and the relations between concentrations of polluting elements in black crusts and environmental conditions.


The results obtained by applying traditional techniques find considerable support in the innovative method used here, which could determine the concentrations of a large number of trace elements (including heavy metals) in the black crusts examined, and thus could also be used as a reliable indicator of environmental pollution.


LA-ICP-MS Black crusts Marble substrate Trace elements Environmental pollution 



We would express our gratitude to Alvin Young for his editorial guidance and to the anonymous reviewers for the constructive comments and suggestions provided that certainly contributed to increase the quality of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donatella Barca
    • 1
  • Cristina Maria Belfiore
    • 2
  • Gino Mirocle Crisci
    • 1
  • Mauro Francesco La Russa
    • 1
  • Antonino Pezzino
    • 2
  • Silvestro Antonio Ruffolo
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversità della CalabriaArcavacata di Rende (CS)Italy
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze GeologicheUniversità di CataniaCataniaItaly

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