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Deterioration Effects on Bricks Masonry in the Venice Lagoon Cultural Heritage: Study of the Main Façade of the Santa Maria dei Servi Church (14th Century)

Tidal exchange, capillary rise, water condensation-evaporation cycles, and crystallization of salts are the main causes of damage in historic brick buildings in Venice. The present study addressed these issues by proposing a study of twenty-three brick samples collected on the main façade of the Santa Maria dei Servi Church (14th century). The color, mineralogical composition, and texture of these samples were studied using standard methods such as spectrophotometry, X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD), optical microscopy (OM), and field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). The presence of carbonates (calcite and dolomite) and newly formed silicate phases, such as gehlenite and diopside, provided indications of the temperatures reached during firing and suggested the absence of a good standardization in the production process.

Meanwhile, XRPD and hyperspectral analysis (HA) detected sulfates (e.g., gypsum and mirabilite) as the main weathering products due to the salt decay process that affects monuments in the Venice lagoon environment. Moreover, secondary phases, such as Mg- and Ca-zeolites, occurred in bricks where the groundmass observed by OM was more vitrificated, and the XRPD patterns displayed the highest amorphous content. On-site mapping of sulfates and chlorophyll by HA was also performed on the main façade of the Church, highlighting the large presence of salts and biodeterioration.

Authors:

Chiara Coletti, Ludovica Pia Cesareo, Jacopo Nava, Luigi Germinario, Lara Maritan, Matteo Massironi, Claudio Mazzoli

Published in:

Heritage 2023, 6(2), 1277-1292

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