Hygrothermal stress and freeze-thaw risk assessment in rocks exposed to changing climatic conditions

01 January 2018 → 31 December 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Atmospheric sciences not elsewhere classified
Hygrothermal stress
Project description

This project aims at measuring the influence of climatic conditions on the decay of exposed rocks

(natural outcrops or building stones). This is pursued by monitoring the temperature and relative

humidity at different depths within test rocks, and comparing this with the ambient climatic

conditions. This will be done in laboratory experiments, where climatic chambers are used to expose

rocks to controlled environmental cycles. In parallel, this is done in real-time conditions 'on-site'. For

this, both a rural site and an urban site are selected, where there is a full and detailed monitoring of

the climate. The laboratory experiments allow to study the process under standardized conditions,

while the on-site measurements allow to study the impact of the prevailing climate. Of special

interest is the opportunity to do this in both rural and urban site in the same region. This way, the

effect of the urban heat island on stone weathering can be investigated. The specific decay

processes studied are freeze-thaw damage through ice crystallization and stresses through

variations in temperature and moisture. For this, critical rock parameters such as the elasticity

modulus are derived from the measurements of individual speeds of sound in the rock. The final aim

is to establish a relationship between intrinsic rock properties, climatic conditions and the potential

for stone weathering.