Laboratory simulation of ‘the wick effect’ in salt weathering of rock

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Abstract

‘The wick effect’ is the upward migration of saline solutions into rocks and their subsequent crystallization. Lower Carboniferous sandstone blocks of rectangular shape have been subjected to this process in the laboratory using a range of salt types, a range of salt concentrations, and various mixtures of salts. Some treatments produced severe disintegration, notably sodium carbonate and a mixture of sodium carbonate with magnesium sulphate, whereas other salts (including sodium chloride and gypsum) were much less effective. The debris produced by this experimental salt weathering included appreciable quantities of silt-sized material, which were analysed with a laser granulometer. Such material could provide a source for desert loess.

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