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Amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) in fresco mural paintings

Oriols, N., Salvadó, N., Pradell, T., Butí, S.

Microchemical Journal Volume 154, May 2020, Article number 104567


Abstract: A fresco painting has a calcium carbonate binder produced as result of the carbonation process of a lime paste. The reaction environmental conditions are similar to those of bio-mineral formation where an amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) phase has been found to be the precursor of other CaCO3 polymorphs following the sequence: hydrated ACC, anhydrous ACC, vaterite, aragonite, and, finally, stable calcite. In order to determine whether ACC is also formed during the fresco drying process, as well as, the final surface calcium carbonate phases present, a series of laboratory mock-ups, replicating as close as possible each of the paint strata and submitted to the same atmospheric conditions have been designed and studied. The results indicate that the continuous supply of water and reagents by the lime and sand mortar promote the ACC formation even at the completion of water evaporation and that the high pH of the medium does not favour the formation of calcium carbonate polymorphs other than calcite. In fact, the results demonstrate that the presence of an ACC layer in the mural painting surface confirms that the original painting technique used was fresco. Finally, the presence of an ACC layer is important for stablishing adequate cleaning (the solubility of hydrated ACC is superior to those of calcite) and conservation protocols (ACC is susceptible to suffer dehydration) for the fresco paintings. © 2019 Elsevier B.V..

DOI: 10.1016/j.microc.2019.104567

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