Granular disintegration has long been recognized and referred to in weathering texts from all environments, including the Antarctic. Despite this universal identification and referral, few to no data exist regarding thermal conditions at this scale and causative mechanisms remain little more than conjecture. Here, as part of a larger weathering study, thermal data of individual grains (using infrared thermometry and ultra-fine thermocouples) composing a coarse granite, as well as the thermal gradients in the outer 10 cm (using thermistors), were collected from a north-facing exposure. Measurements were also made regarding the surface roughness of the rock. Based on recorded temperatures, the nature of the rock surface and the properties of the minerals, an argument is made for complex stress fields that lead to granular disintegration. Mineral to mineral temperature differences found to occur were, in part, due to the changing exposure to solar radiation through the day (and through seasons). Because the thermal conductivity and the coefficient of thermal expansion of quartz are not equal in all directions, coupled with the vagaries of heating, this leads to inter-granular stresses. Although fracture toughness increases with a decrease in temperature, it is suggested that the tensile forces resulting from falling temperatures are able to exceed this and produce granular disassociation. The lack of equality with respect to crystal axis of both thermal conductivity and expansion in quartz further exacerbates the propensity to failure. Grain size and porosity also influence the thermal stresses and may help explain why some grains are held in place despite disassociation near the surface. While the data presented here appear to beg more questions than providing answers, they do provide a basis for better, more detailed studies of this important weathering scale.

Weathering of granite in Antarctica, II: thermal stress at the grain scale

GUGLIELMIN, MAURO;
2008

Abstract

Granular disintegration has long been recognized and referred to in weathering texts from all environments, including the Antarctic. Despite this universal identification and referral, few to no data exist regarding thermal conditions at this scale and causative mechanisms remain little more than conjecture. Here, as part of a larger weathering study, thermal data of individual grains (using infrared thermometry and ultra-fine thermocouples) composing a coarse granite, as well as the thermal gradients in the outer 10 cm (using thermistors), were collected from a north-facing exposure. Measurements were also made regarding the surface roughness of the rock. Based on recorded temperatures, the nature of the rock surface and the properties of the minerals, an argument is made for complex stress fields that lead to granular disintegration. Mineral to mineral temperature differences found to occur were, in part, due to the changing exposure to solar radiation through the day (and through seasons). Because the thermal conductivity and the coefficient of thermal expansion of quartz are not equal in all directions, coupled with the vagaries of heating, this leads to inter-granular stresses. Although fracture toughness increases with a decrease in temperature, it is suggested that the tensile forces resulting from falling temperatures are able to exceed this and produce granular disassociation. The lack of equality with respect to crystal axis of both thermal conductivity and expansion in quartz further exacerbates the propensity to failure. Grain size and porosity also influence the thermal stresses and may help explain why some grains are held in place despite disassociation near the surface. While the data presented here appear to beg more questions than providing answers, they do provide a basis for better, more detailed studies of this important weathering scale.
weathering; granular disintegration; temperature monitoring; thermal stresses; granite; Antarctica
Hall, K; Guglielmin, Mauro; Strini, A.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11383/1674330
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