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A REPORT ON SERPENTINITES IN THE CONTEXT OF HERITAGE STONE RESOURCES (2012)
Serpentinites are metamorphic rocks that are produced by low grade metamorphism or hydrothermal alteration of ultramafic igneous rocks. They have been used for many centuries in the construction of major cultural and religious symbols. The serpentinization of igneous rocks is a widespread process, present in most ultramafic massifs, in which the original rock changes its mineralogical composition during phases of hydration (Moody, 1976; O´Hanley, 1996). The process can take place through shearing and can also affect the rock partially or totally. Today serpentinites are commonly used in construction around the world in view of their attractive structures, colours and patterns, mostly in various shades of green. But they have also been utilised in monuments. The high porosity that can be present in serpentinites (up to 10% in the Appenine serpentinites (Malesani et al., 2003) can cause major problems of alteration and in durability, both indoors and outdoors, and the deterioration of the rock requires that a replacement material is quickly found. Knowledge of the composition of the rock and the provenance of the deteriorated tiles can help to preserve the exterior visual aspect of a building that has to be restored. This is vital in the case of monuments and the characterization of serpentinites should be the first step in a planned restoration of a deteriorated part of a historical building. Therefore, the importance of appropriate information on serpentinites as heritage stone resource (Cooper, 2010).
Department of Geology, Plaza de la Merced s/n, University of Salamanca, 37008 Salamanca, Spain