Diagnostics and monitoring of cultural heritage
sites are mandatory as part of the preservation of
artistic artifacts. The more delicate and prone to
degradation a work of art is, the more efficient and
informative a diagnostic technique must be. The
innovative techniques described in this paper were
applied to the study of walls, whether painted or
unpainted, to determine the moisture content and
degree of salinity to gather information about the
porosity in the sub-surface, and to detect the
presence of voids and anomalies at a depth of
several tens of millimeters. The techniques used
(evanescent field dielectrometry [EFD], unilateral
nuclear magnetic resonance [NMR] and holographic
radar) were largely complementary. EFD
and unilateral NMR can measure the water present
in a wall from a few to approximately 20 mm
beneath the surface. EFD can detect the presence
of soluble salts before efflorescence takes place;
unilateral NMR can estimate the porosity of a wall;
and holographic radar can provide information
about the texture of a wall and detect any large
detachments and cavities present therein. The
above techniques were applied to the ancient
San Rocco Church located in Cornaredo, a small
town near Milan, Italy. These techniques were
applied on a very degraded fresco painting, with
the main objective of quantifying the increasing
dampness. As a result, moisture and salinity
images of the wall were obtained by EFD and
unilateral NMR, determining the moisture distribution
from a depth of 5 to 20 mm inside the wall,
and the distribution of soluble salts in the subsuperficial
layer. Furthermore, the presence of
detachments and material anomalies were
detected by means of a holographic radar survey.
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