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SIMULATION OF SALT WEATHERING IN A CLOSELY REPLICATED COASTAL ENVIRONMENT

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ABSTRACT.

A fundamental concern in the practice of experimental research is how to ensure that laboratory simulations model field conditions as closely as possible, thereby providing useful information about natural and built environments. Salt weathering is one research area where studies conducted in the laboratory have fostered a significant portion of the knowledge, but the results of many experiments are difficult to apply to field sites because they focus on the salt weathering process itself, rather than the situation at a particular site. The design of the experiment reported in this paper, which simulates salt weathering along a hard-rock coast near Swansea, Wales, incorporates the results of previous work that demonstrated the critical importance of the salt solution, rock properties, and environmental conditions in determining the rate and nature of salt weathering. SEM images demonstrate the development of incipient weathering zones with characteristics specific to the type of salt solution used, a result that may have implications for the origins of larger-scale weathering features. Samples also gained mass due to the uptake of salt. This work is useful both for understanding a process that helps to shape hard-rock coasts, and in highlighting the importance of experimental design in salt-weathering research.
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Keywords: coastal environment; salt weathering; simulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Geography, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Oxford, UK

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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