Special Issue "Geoscience of the Built Environment"

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A special issue of Geosciences (ISSN 2076-3263).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2012)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Carlos Alves

Lab2PT, Landscape, Heritage and Territory Laboratory (research unit of the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia) and CIG-R, Centre of Geological Research, Management and Valorisation of Resources (School of Sciences), Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal
Fax: +351253678206
Interests: environmental geochemistry and mineralogy; natural stone durability; petrographic features and stone decay; salt weathering; porous media; weathering processes in the built environment; effects of pollutants on stone decay; stone decay as markers of pollution effects; conservation strategies for stone architectural heritage

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The main goal of this special issue will be the relevance of the geosciences for the study of the built environment, assessing the problem-situation especially on the following issues:

  • Selection of Building Materials

Selection of materials (masonry and carved stone; aggregates for mortars, concrete and bituminous pavements; raw materials for the manufacture of other building materials such as cement, bricks, tiles and glass) needs to consider aesthetic features and the characteristics that influence the performance of the materials in the built environment regarding durability, energy efficiency and pollution effects (also in a perspective of sustainability).

  • Weathering Processes

The same weathering processes that act on rock outcrops affect the built environment surfaces. There are specificities related to the kind and contents of pollutants related to anthropogenic activities and with the geometrical configurations of the built elements (namely in relation to the circulation of polluting solutions and in the exposition to the climatic conditions), resulting in weathering products involving neoformation of substances or the cracking and erosion of the existing surface. The study of these processes requires observational studies (including mapping of weathering products) and in situ and field characterization of the weathering products (namely by non destructive techniques).

  • Study Methods

Includes theoretical models applied to explain (and foresee) the evolution of the materials and the relation between the influencing factors, including numerical simulation and procedures for simulation in the laboratory or in the field in relation to the simulation conditions and the morphology and size of the specimen and confrontation of results of these experimental studies and the features observed in the field.

  • Environmental Impact

Release of pollutants (including radon) from materials applied in the built environment and as waste and their impact on organisms and other materials, as well as the impact of the built surfaces on the energy budget of the surrounding environment.

  • Pollution Monitoring

Geologic materials used as passive monitors of organic and inorganic pollutants and in retrospective dosimetry of radiation.

  • Historical Research

Including historical uses of geological materials and its relation with the economic and technological development and also dating of built elements.

  • Conservation

Relevance of the understanding of the interactions between weathering processes and the geologic materials for the conservation of the cultural heritage.

Dr. Carlos Alves
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • building materials
  • sustainability
  • characterization of weathering products
  • theoretical models
  • observational studies
  • experimental simulations
  • environmental impact
  • pollution monitoring
  • historical research
  • durability
  • conservation historical heritage

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Extending the Avenues for Geosciences Research
Geosciences 2013, 3(3), 446-447; doi:10.3390/geosciences3030446
Received: 5 July 2013 / Accepted: 5 July 2013 / Published: 9 July 2013
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Abstract
The special issue “Geoscience of the Built Environment” [1] has received diverse contributions that can be considered to be on something like the outer limits of geosciences, extending their methods and studies to what can be designated the extended anthroposphere, considering not [...] Read more.
The special issue “Geoscience of the Built Environment” [1] has received diverse contributions that can be considered to be on something like the outer limits of geosciences, extending their methods and studies to what can be designated the extended anthroposphere, considering not only the human modified environment, but also the natural space that man enjoys and assumes the burden to manage. Perhaps because of the orientation of the work of the editor, most of the contributions concerned building materials in diverse perspectives: the characterization of building materials used either directly as built elements [2,3] or as elements of the preparation of manufactured building materials [4]; the implications of geologic materials to the performance of buildings—namely, regarding thermal stability [5], and the alteration [6] and preservation [7] of existing applications of natural stone. These papers reflect diverse epistemological concerns both at the level of basic conceptual research—namely, taxonomy; and applied research—durability of materials used in built works and the impacts of these natural materials on the comfort of built elements. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)

Research

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Open AccessArticle Syracuse Limestone: From the Past a Prospect for Contemporary Buildings
Geosciences 2013, 3(2), 159-175; doi:10.3390/geosciences3020159
Received: 25 January 2013 / Revised: 15 March 2013 / Accepted: 21 March 2013 / Published: 11 April 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1217 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The conservation of the historic stone heritage has great importance when this material characterizes the image of a city, as it happens in Syracuse (Sicily). Its historical buildings are afflicted by a heavy state of deterioration due to the particular microclimate, to [...] Read more.
The conservation of the historic stone heritage has great importance when this material characterizes the image of a city, as it happens in Syracuse (Sicily). Its historical buildings are afflicted by a heavy state of deterioration due to the particular microclimate, to pollution and to neglect endured over time. This article reports the investigations made on limestone samples from historic façades of the city and from the neighboring quarries still in operation, in order to understand the petrographic typology, the reaction to the degradation over time, the possible maintenance and recovery interventions, and the correct applications in buildings of new construction. For this aim, bulk and surface analysis have been made both on the quarry materials and on the corresponding aged materials. It is therefore possible to define the types of rock most suitable for the use in contemporary architecture guaranteeing criteria of perfect biocompatibility. In this way a natural material can be employed in traditional and innovative uses and ensure both the sustainability of the interventions and the continuity of a consolidated tradition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)
Open AccessArticle Spatial Evolution of the Chromium Contamination in Soils from the Assopos to Thiva Basin and C. Evia (Greece) and Potential Source(s): Anthropogenic versus Natural Processes
Geosciences 2013, 3(2), 140-158; doi:10.3390/geosciences3020140
Received: 25 January 2013 / Revised: 20 March 2013 / Accepted: 21 March 2013 / Published: 9 April 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2214 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The investigation of the contamination in soil, plants and groundwater revealed a spatial evolution, with an increasing trend in the Cr, Fe, Ni, Mn and Co contents in soils from the Assopos to Thiva basin, followed by C. Evia and Ni-laterite deposits, [...] Read more.
The investigation of the contamination in soil, plants and groundwater revealed a spatial evolution, with an increasing trend in the Cr, Fe, Ni, Mn and Co contents in soils from the Assopos to Thiva basin, followed by C. Evia and Ni-laterite deposits, suggesting that the latter and their parent ophiolites are a potential source for these metals. In contrast, the contamination in groundwater by Cr(VI), ranging from 2 to 360 μg/L Cr, and a varying degree of salinization is probably due to both human activities and natural processes. A diverse source for the contamination of soil and groundwater in the Assopos-Thiva basins is consistent with the increasing trend of the Mg/Si ratio and Cr(VI) concentration in water. The use of deep karst-type aquifer instead of the shallow-Neogene one may provide a solution to the crucial environmental problem. The selective extraction by EDTA and alkaline solution showed that Cr and Fe are less available than Mn. The Cr contents in plants range from <1 to tens of mg/kg, due probably to the high resistance of chromite. However, the average Crtotal contents in plants/crops are higher than normal or sufficient values, whilst Crtotal accumulation [(% metals in plants × 100)/metal in soil] and Cr(VI) accumulation are relatively low. There is a very good positive correlation between accumulation factors for Cr and Fe (R2 = 0.92), suggesting a similarity concerning their uptake. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)
Figures

Open AccessArticle Verde Macael: A Serpentinite Wrongly Referred to as a Marble
Geosciences 2013, 3(1), 102-113; doi:10.3390/geosciences3010102
Received: 16 November 2012 / Revised: 18 January 2013 / Accepted: 28 January 2013 / Published: 5 February 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2457 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Serpentinites are used in both exterior and interior locations, but not all serpentinites are equal: they vary in physical-mechanical behavior and are not all suitable for similar uses. The serpentinites most commonly used worldwide come from India, Pakistan or Egypt. Spain has [...] Read more.
Serpentinites are used in both exterior and interior locations, but not all serpentinites are equal: they vary in physical-mechanical behavior and are not all suitable for similar uses. The serpentinites most commonly used worldwide come from India, Pakistan or Egypt. Spain has traditionally quarried two ultramafic massifs, one in Galicia (Verde Pirineos) and one in Andalucía (Verde Macael). Some of these quarries were small family-run businesses. In both cases, these rocks are commercially available as “green marble.” These serpentinites commonly have a high degree of carbonation, but the process does not always take place with the same intensity. Carbonate can act as a cementing agent of the other phases, increasing the mechanical strength parameters. As a result, an improvement in the strength conditions is achieved, but a misinterpretation of the suitability of the rock may occur because a perception among users that “green marble” is similar to geologically defined marble. This may lead to inappropriate applications as an ornamental stone. At a time of economic crisis in Europe, the natural stone sector is encouraged to invest in research to identify the best quality products that can compete profitably with those currently being imported from other countries. This paper provides a comparison of properties of the Verde Macael serpentinite with a true marble in the hope of contributing to improving the natural stone industrial sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)
Open AccessArticle Rocks, Clays, Water, and Salts: Highly Durable, Infinitely Rechargeable, Eminently Controllable Thermal Batteries for Buildings
Geosciences 2013, 3(1), 63-101; doi:10.3390/geosciences3010063
Received: 3 December 2012 / Revised: 13 January 2013 / Accepted: 15 January 2013 / Published: 25 January 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2361 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Materials that store the energy of warm days, to return that heat during cool nights, have been fundamental to vernacular building since ancient times. Although building with thermally rechargeable materials became a niche pursuit with the advent of fossil fuel-based heating and [...] Read more.
Materials that store the energy of warm days, to return that heat during cool nights, have been fundamental to vernacular building since ancient times. Although building with thermally rechargeable materials became a niche pursuit with the advent of fossil fuel-based heating and cooling, energy and climate change concerns have sparked new enthusiasm for these substances of high heat capacity and moderate thermal conductivity: stone, adobe, rammed earth, brick, water, concrete, and more recently, phase-change materials. While broadly similar, these substances absorb and release heat in unique patterns characteristic of their mineralogies, densities, fluidities, emissivities, and latent heats of fusion. Current architectural practice, however, shows little awareness of these differences and the resulting potential to match materials to desired thermal performance. This investigation explores that potential, illustrating the correspondence between physical parameters and thermal storage-and-release patterns in direct-, indirect-, and isolated-gain passive solar configurations. Focusing on heating applications, results demonstrate the superiority of water walls for daytime warmth, the tunability of granite and concrete for evening warmth, and the exceptional ability of phase-change materials to sustain near-constant heat delivery throughout the night. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)
Open AccessArticle Engineering Geology Maps for Planning and Management of Natural Parks: “Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia” and “Quilamas” (Central Spanish System, Salamanca, Spain)
Geosciences 2013, 3(1), 46-62; doi:10.3390/geosciences3010046
Received: 31 October 2012 / Revised: 10 January 2013 / Accepted: 10 January 2013 / Published: 18 January 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (4370 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Presented herein is a cartographic procedure that is easy to utilise and at low-cost, which facilitates the first stages of planning and management of a naturally protected space and considers the geotechnical parameters that influence human activity. This procedure uses geographical information [...] Read more.
Presented herein is a cartographic procedure that is easy to utilise and at low-cost, which facilitates the first stages of planning and management of a naturally protected space and considers the geotechnical parameters that influence human activity. This procedure uses geographical information systems technology by combining the cartographies for the most influential parameters on the stability of the area (lithology, hydrogeology, geomorphology, slopes, lineament/fractures and seismicity) with geomechanical mapping generated from geotechnical parameters obtained through field and laboratory tests. This geotechnical mapping facilitates the division of a territory into zones according to each type of problem and generates a cartography for natural hazards. Using this information, it is possible to produce a cartography of constructive conditions or geotechnical hazards. This methodology has been validated by application to two natural protected spaces, “Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia” and “Quilamas”. The validation confirmed that the cartography procedure described herein is a preventive, and not a structural measure. It is a tool that delimits areas with different constructive use recommendations and limitations, and therefore, is useful for natural space managers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)
Open AccessArticle Hellenic Natural Zeolite as a Replacement of Sand in Mortar: Mineralogy Monitoring and Evaluation of Its Influence on Mechanical Properties
Geosciences 2012, 2(4), 298-307; doi:10.3390/geosciences2040298
Received: 9 October 2012 / Revised: 14 November 2012 / Accepted: 16 November 2012 / Published: 22 November 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (550 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
HEU-type zeolite-rich volcaniclastic tuff (Hellenic natural zeolite) is used as a raw material for the production of lighter mortars. The addition of natural zeolite in mortar mixtures of sand and Portland cement leads to a decrease of up to 18.35% unit weight. [...] Read more.
HEU-type zeolite-rich volcaniclastic tuff (Hellenic natural zeolite) is used as a raw material for the production of lighter mortars. The addition of natural zeolite in mortar mixtures of sand and Portland cement leads to a decrease of up to 18.35% unit weight. The increase of the natural zeolite proportions increases the porosity and water absorption of the mortar and, at the same time, decreases the uniaxial compressive strength. These variations in the mortar’s mechanical properties are due to the addition of natural zeolite, which causes incomplete hydration of C2S (2CaO.SiO2) and retardation of the mortar’s hardening. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)
Open AccessArticle A Site-Specific Index Based on Weathering Forms Visible in Central Oxford, UK
Geosciences 2012, 2(4), 277-297; doi:10.3390/geosciences2040277
Received: 15 September 2012 / Revised: 1 November 2012 / Accepted: 6 November 2012 / Published: 12 November 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (8231 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The authenticity of much of the stone-work along Queen’s Lane in central Oxford, UK presented an opportunity to produce a photographic survey from which a weathering index could be established. This represents a site-specific approach to devising a weathering form. Because it [...] Read more.
The authenticity of much of the stone-work along Queen’s Lane in central Oxford, UK presented an opportunity to produce a photographic survey from which a weathering index could be established. This represents a site-specific approach to devising a weathering form. Because it is photo-based, weathering forms are visible for comparison and classification purposes across disciplines. Limestone pertaining to building ashlar and plinths along this roadway, which mainly belong to Queen’s College, St Edmund Hall, New College, and Hertford College, was classified according to this newly introduced weathering index, the size-extent (S-E) index, through consideration of type, size, extent, impact, and trigger. This size- (range) and extent-based classification system enables for the assessment of weathering forms of various types, including soiling and decay features as well as those potentially expected in the presence of vegetation and animals. Weathering forms of a range of sizes were present, with a slightly greater abundance of small types (mm-cm in the micro- to mesoscale) and more discrete types with a low extent. For this location in central Oxford, chemical weathering was found to be the predominant type of soiling and decay. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)
Open AccessArticle Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Contribution to the Inventory of Infrastructure Susceptible to Earthquake and Flooding Hazards in North-Eastern Greece
Geosciences 2012, 2(4), 203-220; doi:10.3390/geosciences2040203
Received: 1 August 2012 / Revised: 12 September 2012 / Accepted: 17 September 2012 / Published: 27 September 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (9814 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
For civil protection reasons there is a strong need to improve the inventory of areas that are more vulnerable to earthquake ground motions or to earthquake-related secondary effects, such as landslides, liquefaction or soil amplifications. The use of remote sensing and Geographic [...] Read more.
For civil protection reasons there is a strong need to improve the inventory of areas that are more vulnerable to earthquake ground motions or to earthquake-related secondary effects, such as landslides, liquefaction or soil amplifications. The use of remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) methods along with the related geo-databases can assist local and national authorities to be better prepared and organized. Remote sensing and GIS techniques are investigated in north-eastern Greece in order to contribute to the systematic, standardized inventory of those areas that are more susceptible to earthquake ground motions, to earthquake-related secondary effects and to tsunami-waves. Knowing areas with aggregated occurrence of causal (“negative”) factors influencing earthquake shock and, thus, the damage intensity, this knowledge can be integrated into disaster preparedness and mitigation measurements. The evaluation of satellite imageries, digital topographic data and open source geodata contributes to the acquisition of the specific tectonic, geologic and geomorphologic settings influencing local site conditions in an area and, thus, estimate possible damage to be suffered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)

Other

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Open AccessTechnical Note Hydrophobization by Means of Nanotechnology on Greek Sandstones Used as Building Facades
Geosciences 2013, 3(1), 30-45; doi:10.3390/geosciences3010030
Received: 2 November 2012 / Revised: 8 January 2013 / Accepted: 9 January 2013 / Published: 18 January 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2776 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Modern sustainable architecture indicates the use of local natural stones for building. Greek sandstones from Epirus (Demati, Greece, EN 12440) used as building facades meet aesthetic and have high mechanical properties, but the inevitable interaction between stone materials and natural or anthropogenic [...] Read more.
Modern sustainable architecture indicates the use of local natural stones for building. Greek sandstones from Epirus (Demati, Greece, EN 12440) used as building facades meet aesthetic and have high mechanical properties, but the inevitable interaction between stone materials and natural or anthropogenic weathering factors controls the type, and extent of stone damages. In the present paper, samples of sandstone were treated with a conventional hydrophobic product and four solutions of the same product, enriched with nanosilica of different concentrations. The properties of the treated samples, such as porosity and pore size distribution, microstructure, static contact angle of a water droplet, and durability to deterioration cycles (freeze-thaw) were recorded and conclusions were drawn. The research indicates the increased hydrophobic properties in nanosilica solutions but also the optimum content in nanoparticles that provides hydrophobicity without altering the properties of the stone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geoscience of the Built Environment)

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