Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 4, pp 1237–1248 | Cite as

Surface changes on crystalline stones due to salt crystallisation

  • Patricia Vázquez
  • Ana Luque
  • Francisco J. Alonso
  • Carlota M. Grossi
Special Issue


This study assesses the changes on the surface of crystalline stones due to salt crystallisation. Efflorescence was forced to grow on the surface of granite and marbles through 60 cycles of salt crystallisation with sodium sulphate. Changes on surface roughness, gloss and colour were measured every 15 cycles and the specimens were examined with naked eye and SEM. Sodium sulphate produces damage which depends on mineral composition. Results show that granites experience a mechanical decay with an increase in roughness. Peaks of mica can be observed on the surface and cracks widen and grow deeper. Colour and gloss do not show any significant change, although gloss decreases with an increase in surface roughness. In marbles, the decay is mainly chemical. Surface roughness increases due to dissolution of the calcite. White marbles exhibit yellowing. Gloss decreases during the first cycles—as grain boundaries become more visible—but tends to regain almost its initial value as the number of cycles increases. In this case, gloss does not show any relation with surface roughness.


Surface roughness Colour Gloss Granites Marbles Sodium sulphate 



This research was funded by the “Fondo Social Europeo” from Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation under project MAT2004-06804-C02-01, and by FICYT under the project IB09-080. The Asociación de Graniteiros de Galicia is thanked for providing the material used. We would like to thank Dr. David Benavente for his help in understanding the chemical processes.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Vázquez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ana Luque
    • 3
  • Francisco J. Alonso
    • 2
  • Carlota M. Grossi
    • 4
  1. 1.Géosciences et EnvironnementUniversité de Cergy-PontoiseCergy-Pontoise, CedexFrance
  2. 2.Facultad de GeologíaUniversidad de OviedoOviedoSpain
  3. 3.Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  4. 4.School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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