Material Conservation in Unique Aquatic Environments

Posted by: danaapti on Friday, October 14, 2011 at 5:00:00 am

I had the pleasure of listening to several excellent presentations as part of today’s session on Materials chaired by Sue Ann Pemberton.  I was particularly struck by the well organized and delivered presentation of Teresa Almond for the government of Canada.  Here are my motes from her presentation, “Material Conservation in Unique Aquatic Environments.”

Teresa Almond offered a look into the unique problems of preserving structures associated with historic hot springs. She focused on three hot springs, including the Upper Banff Hot Springs and the Radium Hot Springs as case studies.

Ground water seeps through mineral rich rock to inner layers of the earth where it is heated.  These waters then flow back to the surface into hot springs.  The characteristic smell of a hot spring is due to the sulphate minerals accumulated in the water. Hot springs  have long been used for medicinal and recreational activities.  The historic baths and pools constructed for the public are subjected to the extreme mineral waters.  These environments lead to corrosive environments for a full range of materials from the concrete to metals.

Almond presented an overview of the problems and issues, then discussed preservation efforts including the use of  systems for treating the pools.  She noted setbacks, including the problem of improper curing of the coating systems that resulted in bathers turning blue!

Most importantly, Almond reminds us, the water itself is a cultural resource.

Mary Striegel, Ph.D.
Chief, Materials Research
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training

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