Lichen Encroachment onto Rock Art in Eastern Wyoming: Conservation Problems and Prospects for Treatment

  • Constance S. Silver
  • Richard Wolbers


Since lichen encroachment onto rock art panels of an important petroglyph site administered by the U. S Bureau of Land Management in eastern Wyoming is extensive, cultural resource managers included an evaluation of the lichen problem as part of a comprehensive management program. During 1999–2001, an interdisciplinary team composed of archaeologists, conservators, conservation scientists, lichenologists studied the problems posed by lichens at this site. This contribution summarizes the results of these studies, including new approaches to the use of non-toxic, enzyme biocides, cleaning methods.


rock art conservation lichens biodeterioration sandstone consolidation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Banfield, J.F., Barker, W.W., Welch, S.A., Taunton, A. (1999) Biological impact on mineral dissolution: application of the lichen model to understanding mineral weathering in the rhizosphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 96: 3404–3411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bennett, P.C., Melcer, M.E. Siegel, D.I., Hassett, J.P. (1988) The dissolution of quartz in dilute aqueous solutions of organic acids at 25 degrees centigrade. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 52: 1521–1530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brunet, J., Vidal, P., Vouve, J. (1985) Conservation de l’Art Rupestre. UNESCO, Paris. Buchet, G. (1890) Les lichens attaquent le verre et, dans les vitraux, semblent préférer certaines couleurs. Céreal Séance Société Biologique, Sér. 2: 13.Google Scholar
  4. Cameron, S., Urquehart, D., Wakefield, R., Young, M. (1997) Biological Growths on Sandstone Buildings. Masonry Conservation Research Group, Robert Gordon University, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  5. Chiari, G. (2001) Report on the Study of the Sandstone from Whoopup Canyon (48WE33). Unpublished report on file, Bureau of Land Management, Newcastle Field Office, Newcastle, Wyoming.Google Scholar
  6. Edwards, H.G.M., Seaward, M.R.D. (1993) Raman microscopy of lichen-substratum interfaces. Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory 74: 303–316.Google Scholar
  7. Geikie, A. (1880) Rock weathering as illustrated in Edinburgh churchyards. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 518–532.Google Scholar
  8. Grissom, C.A., Weiss, N.R. (1981) Alkoxysilanes in the conservation of art, architecture: 1861–1981. AATA Supplement 18: 149–204.Google Scholar
  9. Hallbauer, D.K., Jahns, H.M. (1977) Attack of lichens on quartzitic rock surfaces. The Lichenologist 9: 119–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Julien, A.A. (1884) The durability of building stones in New York City, vicinity. In: US 10th Census 1880, Vol.X. Special Report on Petroleum Coke Building Stone: 364–384. New York, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Kumar, R., Kumar, A.V. (1999) Biodeterioration of Stone in Tropical Environments. The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  12. Lloyd, A.O. (1972) An approach to the testing of lichen inhibitors. In: Biodeterioration of Materials, Vol. 2. (A.H.Walters, E.H.Hueck van der Plas, eds.): 185–191. Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  13. Martin, A.K., Johnson, G.C. (1992) Chemical control of lichen growths established on building materials: a compilation of published literature. Biodeterioration Abstracts 6: 101–117.Google Scholar
  14. May, E., Lewis, F.J., Pereira, S., Tayler, S., Seaward, M.R.D., Allsopp, D. (1993) Microbial deterioration of building stone — a review. Biodeterioration Abstracts 7: 109123.Google Scholar
  15. Piervittori, R., Salvadori, O., Laccisaglia, A. (1994) Literature on lichens, biodeterioration of stonework. I. The Lichenologist 26: 171–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Silver, C.S. (2004) The Rock Art of Site 48WE33: research on lichen-induced deterioration, prospects for conservation treatment. Unpublished report, Bureau of Land Management, Newcastle, Wyoming.Google Scholar
  17. Silvermann, M.P. (1979) Biological, organic chemical decomposition of silicates. Studies in Environmental Science 3, Biogeochemical Cycling of Mineral forming Elements (P.A.Trudinger, D.J.Swaine, eds.): 445–465. Elsevier, Oxford.Google Scholar
  18. St. Clair, L.L. (2000) Characterization of lichen communities associated with rock art sites in eastern Wyoming. Technical Report submitted to the Bureau of Land Management, Newcastle Field Office, Newcastle, Wyoming.Google Scholar
  19. Tratebas, A.M., Chapman, F. (1996) Ethical, conservation issues in removing lichens from petroglyphs. Rock Art Research 13: 129–133.Google Scholar
  20. Watchman, A. (1995) Paint Stabilization by Using an Artificial Silica Gel Consolidant. Unpublished report, Australian Institute of Aboriginal, Tones Strait Islander Studies, Canberra.Google Scholar
  21. Weed, R.,, Norton, S.A. (1991) Siliceous crusts, quartz rinds, biotic weathering of sandstones in the cold desert of Antarctica. In: Diversity of Environmental Biochemistry (J. Berthelin, ed.): 327–339. Elsevier, Amsterdam.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Constance S. Silver
    • 1
  • Richard Wolbers
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Preservar Inc.New YorkUSA
  2. 2.Winterthur MuseumWinterthurSwitzerland
  3. 3.University of DelawareUSA

Personalised recommendations