Document Detail

Patinas developed in environmental burial conditions: the Neolithic steles of Reguers de Seró (Lleida, Spain).
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20213307     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND, AIM AND SCOPE: Weathering patinas in rocks are the result of interaction processes between rock surfaces and atmosphere, biosphere and soil. Therefore, their textural and mineral composition is strongly related to environmental and bioactivity conditions. Whereas the development of weathering patinas in atmospheric conditions is well documented (e.g. typical Mediterranean patina), only very few studies focus on their formation in a burial environment. Our study of patinas developed on the tumular structure of Reguers de Seró deals with the knowledge of burial patinas from a textural and mineralogical point of view. The aims of this study include: (1) the characterisation of the rock used in this megalithic monument as well as inferences regarding the origin of the raw material; (2) the evaluation of the patinas developed on the surface of the carved steles; and (3) the discussion of the environmental conditions (atmospheric or burial) that favoured the development of the patinas. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Whole rock and related patinas (powdered samples and small single pieces) were carefully sampled in five of the seven Neolithic steles discovered during a municipal excavation. Some whole rock samples from the surrounding outcrops were also collected in order to correlate them with the stone forming the megalith. Samples were analysed macroscopically, using a glass binocular, and microscopically, by means of a polarising light microscope and a scanning electron microscope (SEM-EDAX). The mineralogical composition was determined by X-ray diffraction, and a colorimetric analysis was also carried out in all the sampled patinas. RESULTS: The obtained results evidence a strong textural and mineralogical correlation between the whole rock of the megalith and the collected samples of the nearby outcrops; both are classified as calcarenite. A uniformly distributed beige-orange patina (35-100 microm thick) covering the surface of the steles modifies their aspect. A layer of calcite (micrite) with granular texture was detected in all the sampled patinas, being the main mineral compositions (approximately 60-90%). In contrast, a discontinuous external layer (25-50 microm thick) of botryoidally gypsum occurs on only a few patinas. SEM-EDAX analyses evidenced that Ca is related to several processes, including inorganic processes, as well as to minor bioactivity. DISCUSSION: The textural and mineralogical characteristics of the Reguers patinas differ from typical Mediterranean patina sequences, suggesting different environmental conditions for their formation. Several arguments supporting the formation of the Reguers patinas in a burial environment include: (1) patinas cover the entire surface of the steles, iconograhic motifs and fractures. The uniform colour, texture and composition of the patinas throughout the steles suggests their development after the construction of the megalithic tomb during a period in which the archaeological site was buried and sealed by the products of the Senill ravine; (2) the absence of heavy metals mainly contained in flying ashes and other depositions from atmospheric dust and pollutants in the micritic patina; (3) non-appearance of minerals directly formed by biological activity (i.e. oxalates and phosphates); (4) the absence of a well-defined textural sequence (typically of the Mediterranean area) already defined for patinas developed in an atmospheric environment; and (5) the discontinuous occurrence of an external gypsum layer (only present in a few samples) without the presence of the typical spherules related to atmospheric particulate matter. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: The petrographic characteristics of the Neolithic steles of Reguers de Seró show that the raw material came from a nearby outcrop. The formation of beige-orange patinas is related to a burial environment attending their textural and mineralogical features. The protective role played by these patinas indicates that no previous treatment of such steles would be necessary on an eventual exhibition in atmospheric conditions. Further in-depth studies, similar to those that already exist for patinas developed in atmospheric conditions, are recommended in order to better define the petrographic characteristics and mechanisms on the formation of patinas in burial environments.
Maite Garcia-Valles; Meritxell Aulinas; Joan B López-Melción; Andreu Moya-Garra
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Historical Article; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2010-03-07
Journal Detail:
Title:  Environmental science and pollution research international     Volume:  17     ISSN:  1614-7499     ISO Abbreviation:  Environ Sci Pollut Res Int     Publication Date:  2010 Aug 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-07-07     Completed Date:  2010-08-05     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9441769     Medline TA:  Environ Sci Pollut Res Int     Country:  Germany    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1287-99     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department Cristal.lografia, Mineralogia i Dip. Minerals, Universitat de Barcelona, 08028, Barcelona, Spain.
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MeSH Terms
Calcium Carbonate / chemistry
Calcium Sulfate / chemistry
History, Ancient
Materials Testing
Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
Microscopy, Polarization
Minerals / analysis*
Physicochemical Phenomena
Soil / analysis
Surface Properties
X-Ray Diffraction
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Minerals; 0/Soil; 471-34-1/Calcium Carbonate; 7778-18-9/Calcium Sulfate

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