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Subsurface fracturing of sedimentary stones caused by bullet impacts

Campbell, Oliver, Blenkinsop, Tom ORCID:, Mol, Lisa and Gilbert, Oscar 2023. Subsurface fracturing of sedimentary stones caused by bullet impacts. PLoS ONE 18 (10) , e0292351. 10.1371/journal.pone.0292351

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The immovable nature of built heritage means that it is particularly vulnerable during times of armed conflict. Although impacts from small arms and shrapnel leave relatively inconspicuous impact scars, they elevate the risk of future stone deterioration. This study investigates the subsurface damage caused by bullet impacts, which is not apparent from surface inspection, in order to better understand the geometry and mechanics of this form of conflict damage to heritage. Controlled firearm experiments were conducted to simulate conflict damage to sandstone and limestone buildings. The bullet impacts created conical fractures or zones of increased fracture intensity below the impact, radial fractures, and spallation, in addition to a crater. Dynamic fracture distinguishes the formation of these features from quasi static cone crack experiments, while the lack of a shockwave differentiates these bullet impacts from hypervelocity experiments. Damage was created by momentum transfer from the bullet, so that differences in target properties had large effects on the nature of the damage. The crater in the limestone target was almost an order of magnitude deeper than the sandstone crater, and large open fractures formed in the limestone below the crater floor, compared with zones of increased fracture intensity in the sandstone target. Microstructural analysis of subsurface damage showed that fracture intensity decreased with increasing distance from the impact centre, suggesting that regions proximal to the impact are at increased risk of future deterioration. Conical subsurface fractures dipping away from the impact beneath multiple impact craters could link up, creating a continuous fracture network. By providing pathways for moisture and other weathering agents, fractures enlarge the region at increased risk of deterioration. Their lack of surface expression makes understanding their formation a vital part of future surveying and post conflict assessments.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 October 2023
Date of Acceptance: 19 September 2023
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2023 10:00

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