Advertisement

Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp 995–1003 | Cite as

Technological study of “ghiara” mortars from the historical city centre of Catania (Eastern Sicily, Italy) and petro-chemical characterisation of raw materials

  • Cristina M. BelfioreEmail author
  • Mauro F. La Russa
  • Paolo Mazzoleni
  • Antonino Pezzino
  • Marco Viccaro
Original Article

Abstract

This paper presents new petro-chemical data on some typical mortars found in many buildings in the historic city centre of Catania (Eastern Sicily). Extensively used in the architecture of the city from the second half of the nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century, these mortars are characterised by a particular aggregate locally known as “agghiara” or “ghiara”. This is the product of thermal transformation induced by the heating undergone by palaeo-soils, originally rich in organic matter, covered by lava flows, which change their colour to reddish nuances. The volcanic origin of ghiara is a peculiar feature of the Etnean area. Mixed with lime, it gives to mortars an intense reddish colour, as well as hydraulic properties, which are comparable with those of the historically used pozzolana. This work aimed at complete characterisation of these ghiara mortars, for providing information on several important technological aspects. In order to get information on used raw materials, sampling of some ancient underground quarries, located both in the historic city centre and at the periphery, was also performed. Results led to the complete characterisation of the selected ghiara mortars and yielded information on some technological features and the composition of both newly formed and secondary phases, these latter due to alteration processes. The hydraulic properties of mortars have been related to the occurrence of amorphous phases within the ghiara aggregate, which were identified by means of SEM morphological observations. These phases, formed during the “firing” process of palaeo-soils, react with lime producing hydraulic compounds (C–S–H and C–A–H), which are responsible for the mortars durability.

Keywords

Ghiara mortars Catania Sicily Aggregate Amorphous phases Hydraulic properties 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the Etnean Speleological Centre (CSE), particularly Franco Politano and Giuseppe Calcagno, for their guide expertise during the quarry sampling. We would also express our gratitude to Gunter Doerhoefer for his editorial guidance and to an anonymous reviewer for the useful comments and suggestions provided.

References

  1. Bakolas A, Bertoncello R, Biscontin G, Glisenti A, Moropoulou A, Tondello E, Zendri E (1995a) Chemico-physical interactions among the constituents of historical walls in Venice. In: Druzik JR, Vandiver PB (eds) Materials issues in art and archaeology IV. Materials Research Society, Pittsburgh, pp 771–777Google Scholar
  2. Bakolas A, Biscontin G, Contardi V, Franceschi E, Moropoulou A, Palazzi D, Zendri E (1995b) Thermoanalytical research on traditional mortars in Venice. Thermochim Acta 269(270):817–828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bakolas A, Biscontin G, Moropoulou A, Zendri E (1995c) Characterization of the lumps in the mortars of historic masonry. Thermochim Acta 269:809–816CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barone G, Belfiore CM, La Russa MF, Mazzoleni P, Pezzino A, Ruffolo SA (2009) Petro-chemical characterization of agghiara mortars used in historic city centre of Catania (Eastern Sicily). In: Proceedings of 12th euroseminar on microscopy applied to building materials, 15–19 September 2009, Dortmund, Germany (submitted)Google Scholar
  5. Battiato G (1988) Le malte del centro storico di Catania. In: Margani L, Salemi A (eds) Materiali e tecniche costruttive della tradizione siciliana, Documento 16 dell’I.D.A.U. Università di Catania, pp 85–107Google Scholar
  6. Belfiore CM, La Russa MF, Mazzoleni P, Pezzino A, Russo LG, Viccaro M (2008) The “agghiara” mortars in the historical centre of Catania: petrographic and geochemical characterization of the employed raw materials. In: 37th International symposium on archaeometry (ISA), abstracts volume, Siena, 12–16 May 2008, p 206Google Scholar
  7. Benezet JC, Benhassaine A (1999) Grinding and pozzolanic reactivity of quartz powders. Powder Technol 105:167–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bultrini G, Fragalà I, Ingo GM, Lanza G (2006) Minero-petrographic, thermal and microchemical investigation of historical mortars used in Catania (Sicily) during the XVII century A.D. Appl Phys A 83:529–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davoli M, Russo LG, Pezzino A, Crisci GM (2006) Caratterizzazione delle fasi idrauliche e provenienza dei materiali pozzolanici impiegati nelle malte del centro storico di Catania. In: Crisci GM, Gattuso C (eds) Proceedings of Convegno nazionale di Archeometria (AIAr) “Archeometria del costruito. L’edificato storico: materiali, strutture e rischio sismico”. Ravello, 6–7 February 2003, Edipuglia, Bari, pp 119–129Google Scholar
  10. Diamond S (1976) A review of alkali–silica reaction and expansion mechanisms (2. Reactive aggregates). Cem Concr Res 6:549–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Folk RL (1954) The distinction between grain size and mineral composition in sedimentary nomenclature. J Geol 62:344–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Folk RL (1974) Petrology of sedimentary rocks. Hemphill Publishing Co, Austin, p 182Google Scholar
  13. Giua M (1958) Trattato di Chimica Industriale, vol 3. UTET, TorinoGoogle Scholar
  14. Lo Faro A, Salemi A (2002) Ghiara: history, culture and tecnology of volcanic inert. In: Proceedings of XXX IAHS world congress on housing—housing construction—an interdisciplinary task. Aters Graficas Lda, Coimbra, pp 1701–1709Google Scholar
  15. Mazzoleni P (2006) The use of volcanic stones in architecture: the example of Etnean region. An overview. Acta Vulcanol 18(1–2):141–144Google Scholar
  16. Politano F, Licitra GM (1999) Le cavità artificiali nelle colate laviche: le cave di ghiaia. In: Proceedings of IX simposio internazionale di vulcano speleologia, Catania, pp 106–112Google Scholar
  17. Sciuto Patti C (1896) Sui materiali da costruzioni più usati in Catania. In: Atti del Collegio d’Ingegneri ed Architetti in Catania—Anni XVII e XVIII, Tipografia Editrice dell’EtnaGoogle Scholar
  18. Shepard FP (1954) Nomenclature based on sand-silt-clay ratios. J Sediment Petrol 24(3):151–158Google Scholar
  19. Tunçoku SS, Caner-Saltık EN (2006) Opal-A rich additives used in ancient lime mortars. Cem Concr Res 36:1886–1893CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Wentworth CK (1922) A scale of grade and class terms for clastic sediments. J Geol 30:377–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina M. Belfiore
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mauro F. La Russa
    • 2
  • Paolo Mazzoleni
    • 1
  • Antonino Pezzino
    • 1
  • Marco Viccaro
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze GeologicheUniversità degli Studi di CataniaCataniaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversità degli Studi della CalabriaCosenzaItaly

Personalised recommendations