Sulfate attack - Reaction mechanisms revealed by a multi proxy approach

Florian Mittermayr, Andre Baldermann, Dietmar Klammer, Albrecht Leis, Josef Tritthart, Martin Dietzel


The destructive effects of sulfate attack on concrete structures are well known, but the reaction paths and mechanisms that cause the deterioration are still under debate. The aim of this study is to contribute to a deeper understanding on investigating concrete damage by introducing a novel and promising multi proxy approach method. The methodology comprises advanced mineralogical and hydro-geochemical methods as well as stable isotope signals. Investigations were performed on various field case studies in Austria, where the locally occurring ground water was classified as slightly aggressive to concrete, in accordance to DIN EN 206-1. Nevertheless intense concrete damage related to sulfate attack was found. Severely damaged mushy concrete consisted mainly of thaumasite, secondary calcite, gypsum and relicts of aggregate. The expressed interstitial solutions from such material were extremely enriched in SO4 (up to >30000 mg L-1). Stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope were applied successfully and demonstrated that the degree of evaporation provoked enrichments in SO4 and other dissolved, potentially harmful ions such as Cl. Furthermore, the enormous accumulation of incompatible trace elements (e.g. Rb and Li) clearly indicated that numerous wetting and drying cycles had occurred. Such a highly dynamic system is known to induce severe destructive effects on concrete. In this study we demonstrate that the application of a multi proxy approach can provide a better understanding of the complexity of reaction mechanisms involving sulfate attack on concrete structures. More detailed knowledge on the individual reactions that promote concrete damage in field structures will help to find specific counter measures for already affected buildings and to develop tailored concrete recipes, applications and constructive measures for future projects.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5790 ISSN (Online)2225-0514

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