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Artificial microcracking of granites subjected to salt crystallization aging test


Salt crystallization-induced decay of Vardavard granodiorite and Shirkouh monzogranite, two Iranian building stones, were assessed with two non-destructive methods: saturation-buoyancy technique and P- and S-wave velocity measurement. Moreover, polarized and fluorescence microscopy studies were used to evaluate the behavior of the studied stones at microscopic scale against a salt crystallization aging test. The aging test extended pre-existing microcracks and generated new ones. Intracrystalline microcracking was the most predominant microcrack type for both samples. Fine-grained Vardavard granodiorite experienced higher intercrystalline microcracking than coarse-grained Shirkouh monzogranite. The microcracking mechanism of feldspars substantially depends on their alteration degree and microstructural precursors. When a growing microcrack reaches a biotite, it propagates within the crystal if the growing microcrack coincides with the cleavage plane; otherwise, it propagates as an intercrystalline one. The increase in maximum microcrack length of the samples was higher than the increase in their mean microcrack length. Low-strength Vardavard granodiorite showed higher microcrack width after the aging test. Dry weight loss in low-strength Vardavard granodiorite was more pronounced than in high-strength Shirkouh monzogranite. Dry unit weight decreased at a higher rate than saturated unit weight with the increase of effective porosity. The reduction in ultrasonic wave velocities and the increment in effective porosity and water absorption were more pronounced for Vardavard granodiorite, indicating a higher degree of decay, i.e., higher microcrack generation, enlargement, and widening. Shirkouh monzogranite, which has large-sized crystals and pores, wider initial microcracks, high tensile strength, and low effective porosity and microcrack density, was more durable than Vardavard granodiorite.

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Authors are grateful to Pedro Vicente Lozano Carrasco, a laboratory technician of the Petrology and Geochemistry department of Complutense University of Madrid for his help in preparing fluorescence impregnated thin sections. Authors wish to thank Cristian Zapatero Martín, a member of the Petrophysical Laboratory of IGEO (CSIC, UCM) for doing MIP tests. We thank Alfonso Chao for English revision.


This study is financially supported by Tarbiat Modares University of Tehran (Iran), the Community of Madrid (Spain) under the GEOMATERIALS-2CM (S2013/MIT-2914) and TOP HERITAGE-CM (S2013/MIT-2914 and S2018/NMT-4372) programs and Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia of Portugal (FCT) CEECIND/03568/2017. The Ministry of Science and Technology of Iran financed a six-month stay of the first author in Geosciences Institute IGEO (CSIC, UCM) of Madrid (Spain) to perform this research.

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Correspondence to Mashalah Khamehchiyan.

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Zalooli, A., Khamehchiyan, M., Nikudel, M.R. et al. Artificial microcracking of granites subjected to salt crystallization aging test. Bull Eng Geol Environ 79, 5499–5515 (2020).

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  • Building stones
  • Microcracking
  • Salt crystallization
  • Non-destructive test
  • Durability