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This interactive database provides key information and images on building stone used on listed buildings and monuments throughout Northern Ireland, as well as the quarries (active and inactive) from which the stone was extracted. The database is the outcome of an Industry-Research Partnership of the architectural practice - Consarc Design Group (Dawson Stelfox MBE) and Queen's University Belfast (Prof. Bernard Smith) supported by Environment and Heritage Service (EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme). Please follow this link to the Natural Stone Database.
High definition laser scanning (and object scanning) can be used to analyse stone surfaces and monitor change. Past studies demostrated that pore-filling by salts can be detected by object scanning, and scanning with high resolution will help us to understand the growth of biofilms over time, blocking pores and effectively sealing stone surfaces. Another useful aspect of laser scanning is the ability to quantify the reflectance of a surface - in essence, this will help us in objectively deciding if, and to what extent, a building 'greened'.
Sandstone is the construction material under investigation in this project. Three widely used sandstones are used in test walls and laboratory experiments - Peak Moor Sandstone, St Bees Sandstone, and Scrabo Sandstone. Each sandstone has different properties which will control how the stone responds to moisture and 'greening'. The use of these stones on buildings within Northern Ireland can be explored using the Natural Stone Database for Northern Ireland (see link above).
Peakmoor Sandstone is a Carboniferous Millstone Grit, quarried near Matlock in Derbyshire. It is medium grained and buff in colour. Examples of use include walling and dressing stone in restoration and new builds. For results of BRE standards tests, see the BRE Technical Data Sheet for Peakmoor Sandstone.
Cove Red Sandstone is from the New Red Sandstone of Triassic age. It is a fine-grained stone, and red to brown in colour with varying bed definitions. Examples of use include Kelingrove Museum, Glasgow. For results of BRE standards tests, see the BRE Technical Data Sheet for Cove Red Sandstone.
Local, clayey sandstone comes from the Upper Carboniferous Millstone Grit formation which outcrops in and around the Dungannon area in Co. Tyrone. The sandstone is typically fine- to medium-grained and bedded, with colours and hues ranging from cream to greyish-white or grey to yellow. Although the quarries are largely inactive today, this sandstone was used extensively throughout Co. Tyrone and transported to Belfast when the railways were established. BRE test results for this sandstone are not published; however, Stanton Moor Sandstone is from the same geologic formation and appears petrographically similar. Therefore, results from BRE standards tests for Stanton Moor Sandstone may be similar to those for the local, clayey sandstone.
The movement of moisture through building stone is a critical factor in both biotic and abiotic processes. Whilst moisture on the surface of stone is readily apparent (and easily measured), it is much more difficult to discover what is happening within the stone. This project uses a geoelectrical technique known as 2D electrical resistance tomography (ERT) to ‘see’ into building stone and infer moisture conditions at depth. The technique is based upon the relationship between electrical resistance, current, and voltage, and the fact that moisture readily conducts electricity. This implies the assumption that low electrical resistivity equals high moisture content and vice versa. In order to estimate the resistivity at depth, a known electrical current is applied to building stone using the Geotom, a combined power source, voltage meter, and switching device (the orange ‘suitcase’). The current is applied via an array of electrodes, in this case medical ECG electrodes, as these do not damage the stone surface. Measuring the voltage between different combinations of electrodes enable calculation of the resistivity and inference of internal moisture conditions. The2D Geotom surveys of moisture are augmented with surface moisture measurements, collected using a protimeter. Regular surveys of the study structure walls in Derrygonelly will reveal how moisture distribution through stone walls changes as the surface is colonized by microorganisms.
Weathering Research Group, Queens' University Belfast
The Limestone Project: Understanding catastrophic decay of building limestone
The Giant's Causeway: Slope instability at a coastal World Heritage Site
Below are some images of 'greening' sandstone, representing sites across Northern Ireland.