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Impacts of WWII bomb explosions on weathering damage of architectural heritage: Bath, England

Wang, Xiaoyu; Mol, Lisa; Tucker, Maurice; Blenkinsop, Tom; Gilbert, Oscar; Campbell, Oliver

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Xiaoyu Wang

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Lisa Mol
Professor of Geomorphology and Heritage in Conflict

Maurice Tucker

Tom Blenkinsop

Oscar Gilbert

Oliver Campbell


The effects of bomb impacts, including the explosive force and combustion associated with these impacts, are preserved in only a few cities across the UK. In particular, World War Two (WWII) has left scars across a wide range of structures as a result of air raids. On immovable heritage, such as architectural structures, these impacts commonly take the form of craters, fractures and fire damage to stonework. This instantaneous damage is subsequently exposed to environmental stresses, such as moisture cycling, thermal stress and the movement of soluble elements and can thus lead to further deterioration of the stone. In this study, Rock Surface Hardness (RSH) measurements, permeametry measurements and microscopic observations were selected to capture stone deterioration data from 80-year-old bomb impacts on two walls of the Labour Exchange in Bath (UK) for spatial distribution analysis (Kriging) in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The results show that the weathering forms that were found on the two walls can be attributed to nine different types. They can provide quantitative assessment of damage caused by bomb explosions and combustion in the war. The increase in permeability of walls and craters is shown to be primarily caused by the bomb explosion and combustion, whereas the decrease of hardness is associated with subsequent stone deterioration processes. This indicates that the interplay of initial damage likely accelerates subsequent response to environmental stress, extending the initial damage patterns from the impact crater to larger areas of stonework.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 26, 2024
Online Publication Date May 16, 2024
Publication Date May 16, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 21, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jun 21, 2024
Journal Heritage Science
Electronic ISSN 2050-7445
Publisher SpringerOpen
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 1
Article Number 157
Keywords Fire, Bath city, Bomb impact, Craters, Weathering damage
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