Ultrasonic pulse velocity for the evaluation of physical and mechanical properties of a highly porous building limestone

Ultrasonics. 2015 Jul;60:33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ultras.2015.02.010. Epub 2015 Feb 23.


UPV as non-destructive technique can effectively contribute to the low invasive in situ analysis and diagnosis of masonry elements related to the conservation, rehabilitation and strengthening of the built heritage. The use of non-destructive and non-invasive techniques brings all the times many advantages in diagnostic activities on pre-existing buildings in terms of sustainability; moreover, it is a strong necessity with respect to the conservation constraints when dealing with the historical-architectural heritage. In this work laboratory experiments were carried out to investigate the effectiveness of ultrasonic pulse velocity (UPV) in evaluating physical and mechanical properties of Lecce stone, a soft and porous building limestone. UPV and selected physical-mechanical parameters such as density and uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) were determined. Factors such as anisotropy and water presence that induce variations on the ultrasonic velocity were also assessed. Correlations between the analysed parameters are presented and discussed. The presence of water greatly affected the values of the analysed parameters, leading to a decrease of UPV and to a strong reduction of the compressive strength. A discussion of the role of the water on these results is provided. Regression analysis showed a reliable linear correlation between UPV and compressive strength, which allows a reasonable estimation of the strength of Lecce stone by means of non-destructive testing methods such as the ultrasonic wave velocity. Low correlation between UPV and density was found, suggesting that other factors than density, related to the fabric and composition, also influence the response of the selected stone to the UPV. They have no influence on the UCS, that instead showed to be highly correlated with the packing density.

Keywords: Non-destructive test; Physical–mechanical characterization; Soft building limestone; Ultrasonic wave propagation; Water influence.