Nondestructive testing methodology to assess the conservation of historic stone buildings and monuments

Nondestructive testing methodology to assess the conservation of historic stone buildings and monuments, Chastre, Carlos, and Ludovico-Marques Marco , Handbook of Materials Failure Analysis: With Case Studies from the Construction Industries, p.255-294, (2018) copy at


Earthquakes, soil settlements, traffic vibrations, and air pollution are some of the actions that can affect historic old buildings. Besides these, the lack of continuous maintenance puts a large part of this heritage in risk due to structural problems that reduce their own safety and that of their users. The preservation and risk mitigation of built cultural heritage require the use of reliable tools in order to assess its state of conservation and to identify and prevent potential vulnerabilities. Having this in mind, it is not possible to carry out destructive tests in most historic old buildings, so it is preferable to opt for nondestructive tests (NDT) or alternative methodologies that allow the physical and mechanical characterization of materials and structure. In this chapter, a general view of NDT methods used in historic buildings to obtain the geometrical information, the damage mapping, the mechanical and physical characterization, and the petrographic analysis of stones is presented. An alternative methodology to physically and mechanically characterize the stone of historic buildings using NDT tests is also proposed. The chapter ends with a case study carried out in the St. Leonard’s Church, a Portuguese monument built in Atouguia da Baleia village in the 13th century, where the alternative methodology here presented was applied. The final results of this study show that the methodology proposed allows the obtention of stress-strain curves in a completely nondestructive way, based on the water absorption coefficient at low pressure.


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