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Microbial Deterioration of Historic Stone

Christopher J. McNamara and Ralph Mitchell
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Vol. 3, No. 8 (Oct., 2005), pp. 445-451
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/3868661
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3868661
Page Count: 7
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Microbial Deterioration of Historic Stone
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Abstract

Environmental science has traditionally focused on conservation of natural resources. However, there is a second, little known, branch of environmental science that deals with the conservation of cultural resources. Many historic stone structures, archeological sites, and objects are at risk, and in need of protection, as a result of physical, chemical, and biological weathering. Because these structures are often large and located outdoors, they pose particular conservation challenges that require collaborative efforts between conservators and scientists. Historic stone supports large and diverse communities of microorganisms that colonize both the stone surface and the porous interior. In many cases, microbial processes have been implicated in the deterioration of the stone. The study of the role of microorganisms in this process is in its infancy, but recent findings have important implications for the preservation of cultural resources and for our understanding of weathering in natural systems.

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