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Weathering patterns of the hard grey-striped limestone in the typical Mediterranean climate of northeastern Algeria at the Roman city of Djemila

Abstract : The ancient ruins of Djemila, located in northeastern Algeria, represent the most important Roman archaeological site in North Africa. Originally named “Cuicul” in 96 or 97 A.D./C.E. when the Roman emperor Nerva built and established it as a Roman colony, Djemila (“beautiful” in Arabic) has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1982. The primary research objective at these ruins was to explain the major decay patterns observed, and the related processes affecting the hard grey-striped limestone widely used in the construction of the city. Mineralogical, petrophysical, and mechanical tests were performed on samples of this limestone collected from both the ancient city and the original quarry using different tools (XRD, XRF, SEM-EDX, etc.) and methods. Results obtained show that this stone has a high compressive strength with very low porosity and capillary absorption. The linear thermal coefficient showed a marked difference between the matrix and the veinlet of the same sampled stone. Hence, exposure over many centuries to strong climatic variations due to the typical Mediterranean climate of Northeastern Algeria naturally resulted in the characteristic yet spectacular decay patterns exhibited on the stone, namely cracks, fractures, contour scaling, large fragmentation, and delamination, as well as orange patina and lichens. The main effective parameters involved are temperature variations (thermal gradient), along with the wet–dry cycles resulting from climatic changes, and insolation decay due to the extreme radiant energy. These factors work in conjunction with the heterogeneity of the stone (presence of the calcite veinlets on the matrix) causing a fatigue phenomenon which, in turn, catalyzes deterioration patterns.
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Soumis le : jeudi 4 août 2022 - 15:07:06
Dernière modification le : vendredi 5 août 2022 - 15:33:49

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Naïma Rabahi-Touloum, Ahmed Brara, David Dessandier. Weathering patterns of the hard grey-striped limestone in the typical Mediterranean climate of northeastern Algeria at the Roman city of Djemila. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment, Springer Verlag, 2021, 80 (8), pp.6003-6022. ⟨10.1007/s10064-021-02344-w⟩. ⟨hal-03745748⟩

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