Scientists Have Figured Out How Ancient Rome’s Concrete Has Survived 2,000 Year
Scientists have solved the mystery of the durability of ancient Rome concrete and in the process may have learned something that could influence modern construction.
The research, published this week in the American mineralogist magazine, details how ancient Roman walls built there about 2000 years have been able to withstand the inclement weather due to a rare chemical reaction that apparently reinforced concrete over time.
Modern cement mixes tend to erode, especially in the presence of sea water, but the Roman recipe volcanic ash, lime, sea water and a mineral called tobermorite in aluminum reinforced concrete and avoids development cracks.
The reaction was caused by seawater that continuously accumulates in structures for hundreds of years, allowing mineral blends of silica and lime oxides to develop between aggregate volcanic rock and mortar to develop resistance.
And it created concrete like a rock that develops in an open chemical exchange with sea water, “said author Marie Jackson of the University of Utah in the paper.
“This is a very rare event on Earth,” he added.
Although the Romans granted greater access to natural volcanic ash, the concept could someday be used as a more environmentally friendly alternative in the modern cement mix, which emits a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
“The Romans were lucky with the kind of rock they had to work on,” Jackson said. “They found that volcanic cement ash to produce the [mortar]. We do not have such rocks in many people, so it would have to be replacements.”
Jackson is working to create a recipe for his proposed replacement to use steel instead for a planned tidal lagoon UK.
“I think Roman concrete or a type that would be a very good option [pond]. This project will require a 120 year life to cushion the investment,” he told the BBC earlier this year. ”
Jackson warned that typical cement mixes do not withstand the elements as well as the Roman concrete style.