Clay swelling mechanism in clay-bearing sandstones

Timothy Wangler, George W. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Swelling clays in stone can generate damaging stresses during a wetting or a drying cycle, which lead to deterioration of building stones such as Portland Brownstone. There are two primary types of swelling identified for clays: short-range, ordered intracrystalline swelling, and long-range, continuous osmotic swelling. Identification of the swelling mode is important for understanding and ultimately preventing swelling damage. Through comparison of XRD and swelling experiments with cationic pretreatments and organic solvents, we demonstrate that intracrystalline swelling is the primary mode of swelling present in three different stones, including Portland Brownstone. The results highlight the importance of the counterbalancing cation to the swelling process, and a method for characterizing the intracrystalline swelling in sandstones is developed. Finally, the implications of long-term swelling behavior for stones are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-534
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Geology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Soil Science


  • Building deterioration
  • Geomorphology
  • Stone decay


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