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A Bridge

A Client
Concrete Petrographic Report CO1
Example

Petrolab Limited

www.petrolab.co.uk
tel +44 (0)1209 219541 email petrolab@petrolab.co.uk

C Edwards Offices, Gweal Pawl, Redruth, Cornwall TR15 3AE
Registered in England & Wales · Company No. 4777735

Petrographic Report - Concrete

A Client

Contents
1 Sample details..........................................................................................1
2 Petrographic description – C1...................................................................2
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4
2.5

Aggregates.............................................................................................................2
Binder....................................................................................................................3
Voids......................................................................................................................4
Fractures and degradation....................................................................................4
Composition - C1...................................................................................................5

3 Petrographic description – C2...................................................................6
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5

Aggregates.............................................................................................................6
Binder....................................................................................................................8
Voids....................................................................................................................10
Fractures and degradation..................................................................................11
Composition - C2.................................................................................................13

4 Summary.................................................................................................14
4.1 Concrete C1........................................................................................................14
4.2 Concrete C2........................................................................................................14

5 Images....................................................................................................15
5.1 Sample C1...........................................................................................................16
5.2 Sample C2...........................................................................................................19

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Petrographic Report - Concrete

A Client

Petrolab document control
Client

A Client

Report title

A Bridge

Analysis required

Detailed petrographic examination in accordance with ASTM C-856 on two
concrete cores.

Client reference

--

Client contact

A Client

Report ID (version)

CO1

Report date

Example

Prepared by

R Garside BA MSci

Checked by

J Strongman Msci ARSM

Limitations
This report relates only to those samples submitted and specimens examined and to any materials properly
represented by those samples and specimens. This report is issued to the Client named above for the benefit of
the Client for the purposes for which it was prepared. It does not confer or purport to confer on any third party any
benefit or right pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.

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Petrographic Report - Concrete

A Client

Petrographic methods of investigation for hardened concrete
Preliminary examination
The submitted sample / specimens are examined as received, and after careful washing to remove
loose debris, using a Nikon SMZ-U stereomicroscope. The microscope has a continuous zoom range
of 7.5x to 75x and it is equipped with a 150W continuous ring, fibre optic illuminator. It is useful for the
preliminary examination of materials and it is possible to discriminate and sometimes identify features
as small as 100 µm in size. The microscope has a trinocular head and can be used for low power
photomicrography. The main purpose of the preliminary examination is to identify the degree of
consistency or variability in the submitted sample / specimens and any superficial evidence of
deterioration. This facilitates the selection of the most appropriate specimen(s) for a full petrographic
examination when multiple specimens of the same concrete type are submitted.
Sample preparation
Following preliminary examination, the selected specimen is cut in half parallel or perpendicular with its
axis (to suit the objectives of the investigation). One half of a cut specimen may be carefully ground,
finishing with #600 grit carborundum powder. At least one standard petrographic thin section is
prepared from each selected specimen. Additional thin sections may be prepared from a large
specimen in order to investigate variation in the concrete or to suit the objectives of the investigation.
The cut specimen, used for section preparation, is typically vacuum impregnated with a low viscosity
epoxy resin containing a yellow fluorescent dye. A high resolution, low magnification digital image of
each thin section is prepared using a film scanner. This type of image is useful for illustrating the
mesostructure of the concrete.
Microscopic examination
High-power microscopy is undertaken using a Nikon research polarising microscope. The thin section(s)
may be examined in both plain and cross-polarised light, and reflected ultraviolet light creating
secondary fluorescence. Photomicrographs are taken using a Nikon high resolution digital camera fitted
to the trinocular head of the microscope.
Quantitative investigations
Modal analysis to determine the concrete composition is performed using a Pelcon 64 channel
electromechanical point counter using stepping and traverse intervals of 0.5 mm. One thousand points
are counted from each thin section (provided the area of the sample represented on the thin-section is
sufficient). Water-cement ratios for uncarbonated concrete can be estimated by the petrographic
comparison of the fluorescent intensity of the paste with that of standard mortars viewed under carefully
controlled reflected ultraviolet illumination. An estimated mix design may be calculated for standard
Portland-type cement without cement substitutes.
Other testing
In some circumstances, additional (non-petrographic) testing using an appropriate chemical or physical
testing procedure may be undertaken by an approved laboratory. When undertaken, the test certificate
and the results obtained are provided in an appendix to the main body of the report.

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Petrographic Report - Concrete

1

A Client

Sample details

Two samples of concrete were supplied by A Client on xx/xx/xxxx for petrographic
examination. The samples were reported to be from a concrete bridge structure.
Sample details, as received, are shown in the table below.
Table 1 · Samples received
Report no.

Sample reference

Type

C1

Core location

Concrete core, Ø100 mm

C2

Core location

Concrete core, Ø100 mm

The investigation requested was a detailed petrographic description and quantitative
modal analysis, to assess concrete quality and any evidence of degradation, in
particular any evidence or potential for Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR). A thin section was
made parallel to the core axis in the area of the core which showed the greatest
evidence of degradation, or, when there was no immediately evident damage, the base
of the core as this would be most likely to show the presence of ASR.
Two types of concrete were identified. Petrographic observations are recorded in the
tables below with additional explanatory text beneath. A summary of the concrete
type(s) is provided followed by annotated images of the samples.

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2

Petrographic description – C1

2.1

Aggregates

Table 2 · Aggregate details
crushed aggregate and natural sand

Type

Coarse aggregate crushed limestone

Abundance

Major components

bioclastic limestone

Minor components

calcareous shell fragments

Size range

3 mm

Grading

good

to

20 mm

47.4%

Average

10 mm

Rounding

angular – sub-angular

angular morphologies predominate
Shape

mainly equant

Fine aggregate

beach sand

Major components

vein quartz, calcareous shell fragments

Minor components

limestone, ferruginous sandstone, stable silicate minerals (plagioclase feldspar, Kfeldspar, pyroxene), altered basalt, iron oxides, calcite, chert, zircon, glauconite,
volcanic glass

Size range

50 µm

Grading

good

to

Sphericity

low
Abundance

1 mm

22.1%

Average

300 µm

Rounding

sub-angular - rounded

sub-rounded morphologies predominate
Shape

mainly equant

Percentage passing 600 µm
Sample
C1

Sphericity

moderate

80 (visual estimate)

Aggregate microfractures

Secondary alkali-silica gel

none seen

none seen

The coarse aggregate is a crushed limestone and the fine aggregate is a beach sand.
Both aggregates are generally considered stable. The fine aggregate contains a minor
amount of chert and volcanic glass (2.7 % of the aggregate total, modal analysis) which
are considered potential alkali-silica reactive components 1. However the aggregate in
this sample shows no evidence of alkali-silica gel development or associated radial
microfracturing.
There is no evidence of any other aggregate instability or reaction between aggregate
and the binder.

1 The Diagnosis of Alkali-Silica Reaction, Report of a working party. Appendix D. British Cement
Association, 1992. Where rocks or mineral types are noted as 'reactive', it does not necessarily imply
that damage has been caused by ASR when these have been used.
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Petrographic Report - Concrete
2.2

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Binder

The binder is Portland-type cement, probably OPC. The sample appears to be
completely uncarbonated except for trace patchy carbonation in the surface 10 mm of
the concrete.
The optical properties of the uncarbonated paste are summarised in the table below.
Table 3 · Uncarbonated binder
Cement type

Portland-type Cement (probably OPC)

Replacement

local ettringite replacement

Modal volume

29.8%

Optical properties of least altered paste
Colour

dark brown to pale fawn

Isotropy

weakly anisotropic

Texture

irregularly mottled

Disseminated calcite abundant

Dye absorption

variable, moderate to high

Fluorescence

variable, moderate to high

abundant

Distribution

irregular

Shape

granular and branching
anhedral grains

Aggregate margins common

Distribution

irregular

Maximum size (µm) 80

Shape

monolayers and outgrowths

Portlandite
In paste

Maximum size (µm) 60
Replacement

Replacement

calcite (common)

calcite, ettringite (rare)

Cement clinker grains
Alite

common

Maximum size (µm)

100

Max. birefringence

not determined

Colour

pale yellow

Hydration

CSH-replaced

Reaction rims

none seen

Belite

rare

Maximum size (µm)

30

Max. birefringence

not determined

Colour

muddy brown

Hydration

CSH-replaced

Reaction rims

diffuse opaque rims

Ferrite

present

Maximum size (µm)

50

Alteration

strongly oxidised

Colour

dark red-brown - opaque

Maximum size (µm)

200

Clinker grain clusters
Alite

common

Matrix

dark brown glassy phase, granular iron oxide

Hydration

completely hydrated

Reaction rims

none seen

Belite

rare

Maximum size (µm)

150

Matrix

sparse, medium brown glassy phase

Hydration

strongly hydrated

Alite + belite

none seen

Reaction rims

diffuse opaque rims

The mineralogy and texture of the uncarbonated paste are characteristic of Portland
Cement concrete made at a moderate water/cement ratio (≥ 0.45). The uncarbonated
binder shows evidence of minor local ettringite replacement.

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2.3

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Voids

The main features of the air void system are summarised below.
Table 4 · Voids
Void system
Modal volume

0.7%

Size range

100 µm to

Interconnectivity

generally isolated

5 mm

Shape

spherical – irregular

Average size

500 µm

Secondary minerals
ettringite

present

Alteration at void walls

local ettringite replacement

There are traces of ettringite in voids and the surrounding binder, particularly in areas of
slightly higher porosity, however there is no evidence of significant sulphate attack.
2.4

Fractures and degradation

Table 5 · Fractures
Anastomosing microcracks
Abundance
none seen
Peripheral fissures
Abundance

rare

Distribution
Maximum aperture
Secondary minerals
Mineral 1
Mineral 2
Mineral 3

at margins of aggregate fragments, no specific lithologies
Average aperture 35 µm
60 µm

Alteration at crack walls

local ettringite replacement

granular calcite
portlandite
ettringite

Abundance
Abundance
Abundance

rare
present
present

Fractures related to degradation
Abundance
none seen

Peripheral fissures may form as a result of aggregate shrinkage and as a result of
dissolution or ettringite replacement of portlandite outgrowths and monolayers.
The samples show no evidence of microfracturing related to sulphate replacement of
the binder or other aggregate-related degradation.

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2.5

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Composition - C1

The volumetric composition of the concrete was determined by modal analysis. One
thousand points were counted from the thin section.
Sample

C1

Coarse aggregate

47.4%

Fine aggregate

22.1%

Binder

29.8%

Voids

0.7%

Water-cement ratio was estimated by comparing the fluorescent intensity of the paste
under high intensity reflected ultraviolet illumination with that of standard mortars. A
range of values between 0.4 and 0.5 were obtained. A preferred water-cement ratio of
0.45 has been used to estimate the mix design.
Table 6 · Estimated (theoretical) mix design
Volume
%

Density
(kgm3)

Coarse aggregate

47.4

2650

Coarse aggregate

1256 kgm3

Sand aggregate

22.1

2650

Sand aggregate

586

kgm3

Binder

29.8

3120

Cement

387

kgm3

Voids

0.7

Water

174

kgm3

Total

100.0
Density

2403 kgm3

Slump without plasticiser

30-60 mm

28-day strength

51.7

Component

Fluorescent intensity
Preferred water/cement ratio
Maximum aggregate size, mm

0.4-0.5
0.45
20

crushed

Estimated mix design

w/c
0.45

Calculated cement content 16.1

MPa
%

The estimate assumes that no air entrainment agent or plasticiser is present.
NOTE: It must be emphasised that the estimation of concrete mix design by petrographic methods is
subject to many potential errors. It should not be used as a substitute for appropriate and approved
methods of chemical analysis and physical testing.

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Petrographic Report - Concrete

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3

Petrographic description – C2

3.1

Aggregates

Table 7 · Aggregate details
crushed aggregate and natural sand

Type

Coarse aggregate crushed limestone

Abundance

Major components

bioclastic limestone, carbonaceous limestone (silicified limestone?)

Minor components

greywacke, sandstone

Size range

2 mm

Grading

good

to

20 mm

53.0%

Average

10 mm

Rounding

angular – sub-angular

angular morphologies predominate
Shape

mainly equant

Fine aggregate

beach sand

Major components

vein quartz, calcareous shell fragments

Minor components

limestone, ferruginous sandstone, stable silicate minerals (plagioclase feldspar, Kfeldspar, pyroxene), altered basalt, iron oxides, calcite, chert, zircon, glauconite,
volcanic glass

Size range

50 µm

Grading

good

to

Sphericity

low
Abundance

1 mm

18.7%

Average

300 µm

Rounding

sub-angular - rounded

sub-rounded morphologies predominate
Shape

mainly equant

Percentage passing 600 µm
Sample
C2

Sphericity

moderate

80 (visual estimate)

Aggregate microfractures

Secondary alkali-silica gel

common - generally gel-filled, iron
oxide filled near base of sample

common, sometimes carbonated

The coarse aggregate is a crushed limestone and the fine aggregate is a beach sand.
The fine aggregate contains a minor amount of chert and volcanic glass (2.5 % of the
aggregate total, modal analysis) and the coarse aggregate contains a minor amount of
greywacke (< 5 % of the aggregate total, visual estimate). These are considered
potential alkali-silica reactive components 1 but show no evidence of initiating ASR in the
thin section.
In this sample < 20 % coarse aggregate (visual estimate) shows evidence of internal
fracturing and the development of pervasive cracking and alkali-silica gel formation. The
binder around these aggregate fragments also shows significant gel replacement, in
patches Ø < 2 mm.
In this sample the coarse aggregate most commonly associated with fracturing and
surrounding gel-filled binder is the carbonaceous limestone. This aggregate type is not
typically considered a high risk ASR aggregate, as ASR is usually attributed to the
presence of microcrystalline or highly strained quartz. Although the limestone does not
appear to be obviously silicified in thin section, it does contain small strained and finely
1 The Diagnosis of Alkali-Silica Reaction, Report of a working party. Appendix D. British Cement
Association, 1992. Where rocks or mineral types are noted as 'reactive', it does not necessarily imply
that damage has been caused by ASR when these have been used.
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crystalline quartz grains and the abundant opaque carbonaceous material may also
contain microcrystalline silica which is not distinguishable under the microscope. The
aggregate fragments are harder than typical limestone which would also suggest that
they have been silicified.
Silicified limestone is not widely considered a high risk aggregate and only a small
number of cases of reaction with this aggregate have been reported in the UK. It is
possible that some unusual environmental conditions, such as high alkali cement, may
have caused the aggregate to react.
There is no evidence of any other aggregate instability or reaction between aggregate
and the binder.

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3.2

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Binder

The binder is Portland-type cement, probably OPC. The core is completely
uncarbonated except for a strong carbonation layer around some fractures and patchy
carbonation of alkali-silica gel.
The optical properties of the uncarbonated paste are summarised in the table below.
Table 8 · Uncarbonated binder
Cement type

Portland-type Cement (probably OPC)

Replacement

local ettringite, alkali-silica gel, iron oxide

Modal volume

27.7%

Optical properties of least altered paste
Colour

pale fawn to dark brown

Isotropy

weakly anisotropic

Texture

irregularly mottled

Disseminated calcite abundant

Dye absorption

variable, moderate to high

Fluorescence

variable, moderate to high

abundant

Distribution

irregular

Shape

granular and branching
anhedral grains

Aggregate margins common

Distribution

irregular

Maximum size (µm) 110

Shape

tabular crystals and
outgrowths

Portlandite
In paste

Maximum size (µm) 50
Replacement

Replacement

calcite (common)

calcite, ettringite (rare)

Cement clinker grains
Alite

common

Maximum size (µm)

100

Max. birefringence

not determined

Colour

pale yellow

Hydration

CSH-replaced

Reaction rims

none seen

Belite

rare

Maximum size (µm)

40

Max. birefringence

not determined

Colour

muddy brown

Hydration

CSH-replaced

Reaction rims

diffuse opaque rims

Ferrite

present

Maximum size (µm)

75

Alteration

strongly oxidised

Colour

dark red-brown - opaque

Maximum size (µm)

100

Clinker grain clusters
Alite

common

Matrix

dark brown glassy phase, granular iron oxide

Hydration

completely hydrated

Reaction rims

none seen

Belite

rare

Maximum size (µm)

140

Matrix

sparse, medium brown glassy phase

Hydration

strongly hydrated

Reaction rims

diffuse opaque rims

Alite + belite

rare

Maximum size (µm)

165

Matrix

medium brown glassy phase, granular iron oxide

Hydration

strongly hydrated

Reaction rims

diffuse opaque rims

The mineralogy and texture of the uncarbonated paste are characteristic of Portland
Cement concrete made at a moderate water-cement ratio (≥ 0.5). The uncarbonated
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binder shows evidence of minor local ettringite replacement. It also shows evidence of
patchy alkali-silica gel replacement around aggregate fragments and iron oxide
replacement at the base of the core, presumably in proximity to corroded reinforcement.
The main features of the carbonated paste are summarised below.
Table 9 · Carbonated binder
Transition zones
Carbonation fronts

sharp, irregular

Width of transition zone

100 µm – 300 µm

Replacement sequence

1

portlandite

2

paste

3

cement clinker grains

Fine-grained paste
Abundance

present

Size range

< 1 µm

Relict clinker grains

present

Residual gel

present

Granular iron oxide present

Maximum size

50 µm

Maximum size

50 µm

Microporosity

low

Pore size

5 µm

Secondary minerals

ettringite, alkali-silica gel

Distribution

patches next to corroded
reinforcement

Texture

microgranular

to

5 µm

Distribution

around microcracks and areas
of carbonated gel

Texture

uniform, compact

To

25 µm

Coarse-grained paste
Abundance

present

Size range

5 µm

Relict clinker grains

present (alite)

Residual gel

present

Granular iron oxide present

Maximum size

100 µm

Maximum size

100 µm

Microporosity

high locally

Pore size

5 µm

Secondary minerals

ettringite, iron oxides

Snowflake calcite

none seen

to

25 µm

to

50 µm

The carbonated paste around gel-associated fractures is mainly fine-grained and
strongly recrystallised. The texture is typical of natural atmospheric carbonation along
high porosity zones. Carbonated paste around the iron oxide filled binder is coarse
grained, suggesting that fractures penetrating down to the reinforcement have acted as
pathways for leaching in addition to facilitating corrosion of the steel.

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Voids

The main features of the air void system are summarised below.
Table 10 · Voids
Void system
Modal volume

0.6%

Size range

50 µm

Interconnectivity

locally highly connected

to

5 mm

Shape

spherical – irregular

Average size

500 µm

Secondary minerals
Voids in uncarbonated paste

Voids in carbonated paste

ettringite

rare

granular calcite

rare

portlandite

rare

ettringite

rare

alkali-silica gel

rare

alkali-silica gel

rare

iron oxides

rare

Alteration at void walls

local ettringite or alkali-silica gel replacement

There are traces of ettringite in voids and the surrounding binder, particularly in areas of
slightly higher porosity, however there is no evidence of significant sulphate attack.
Voids around the edge of gel filled binder or fractures show evidence of gel linings and
voids next to the iron oxide filled binder also contain iron oxides.

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Fractures and degradation

Table 11 · Fractures
Anastomosing microcracks
Abundance
none seen
Peripheral fissures
Abundance

rare

Distribution

around coarse aggregate fragments, no specific lithologies

Maximum aperture

30 µm

Average aperture

15 µm

Mineral 1

ettringite

Abundance

present

Mineral 2

portlandite

Abundance

present

Mineral 3

alkali-silica gel

Abundance

rare

Mineral 4

iron oxides

Abundance

rare

Mineral 5

granular calcite

Abundance

rare

Secondary minerals

Alteration at crack walls ettringite, iron oxide binder replacement
Fractures related to degradation
Abundance
common
Type 1 – throughout core sample, no specific orientation
Distribution
Type 2 – at base of sample, generally sub-parallel to surface
Maximum aperture
1 – 1.2 mm; 2 – 100 µm Average aperture 1 – 200 µm; 2 - 25 µm
usually closely matching in binder and aggregate, occasionally non-matching in
Crack walls
carbonaceous limestone aggregate
cracks commonly run through and possibly propagate in carbonaceous
Cracks in aggregate
limestone aggregate fragments
Secondary minerals
Mineral 1

ettringite

Abundance

common

Mineral 2

alkali-silica gel

Abundance

common

Mineral 3

iron oxides

Abundance

common

granular calcite

Abundance

present

Mineral 4

Alteration at crack walls ettringite, alkali-silica gel, iron oxide binder replacement

Peripheral fissures may form as a result of aggregate shrinkage and as a result of
dissolution or ettringite replacement of portlandite outgrowths and monolayers.
Fractures related to development of alkali-silica gels mostly propagate into the thin
section from outside the area, though there are a few microfractures which appear to
originate in carbonaceous limestone fragments. These discontinuous fractures
permeate into the surrounding paste approximately perpendicular to the aggregate
surface and can be traced for up to at least 20 mm. Fractures in the binder generally
have matching walls with discontinuous linings of alkali-silica gel and/or lining of fibrous
ettringite. Maximum fracture apertures are < 1.2 mm but are typically 200 µm in width.
The gel in the majority of fractures is uncarbonated, except for the wider fractures and
areas with gel replacing the binder. It appears to be at least partly contemporaneous
with the ettringite, since it both overgrows ettringite in fractures and has ettringite
forming on its surface.
The most likely cause of the ASR development is due to the concrete being
continuously wet which allows the alkalinity of the pore fluid to increase to a point where
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any microcrystalline and/or highly strained quartz reacts. The presence of sulphate
replacement in the uncarbonated binder is further evidence that the concrete has been
wet for prolonged periods. The presence of carbonated gel and evidence that ASR
fracturing has caused reinforcement corrosion suggests that some of the gel is relatively
old. However, it is not possible to determine whether alkali-silica reaction in the concrete
has ceased or is ongoing.
Observations of the core sample show evidence of corrosion and associated expansion
of steel reinforcement at the base. This has produced multiple radiating surface-parallel
microfractures which are iron oxide-filled and there is local iron oxide impregnation of
the binder (< 3 mm from sample base). The cause of corrosion is due to air ingress and
subsequent carbonation. The process is a classic feedback system: as the steel
becomes more corroded it expands further creating more fractures which penetrate to
the surface allowing further air ingress and corrosion.
The core sample provided is almost completely uncarbonated and the concrete is
extremely dense. It is considered unlikely that surface carbonation has penetrated to the
depth of the reinforcement and, therefore there must have been an initial fracture
mechanism to create a pathway to the reinforcement. From the evidence of carbonated
alkali-silica gels in fractures it seems likely that the initial fracturing was caused by ASR.

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Petrographic Report - Concrete
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Composition - C2

The volumetric composition of the concrete was determined by modal analysis. One
thousand points were counted from the thin section. The concrete appears to be slightly
unevenly mixed as there are patches of high cement content with abundant unhydrated
clinker and other areas with a higher water content.
Sample

C2

Coarse aggregate

53.0%

Fine aggregate

18.7%

Binder

27.7%

Voids

0.6%

Water-cement ratio was estimated by comparing the fluorescent intensity of the paste
under high intensity reflected ultraviolet illumination with that of standard mortars. A
range of values between 0.45 and 0.55 were obtained. A preferred water-cement ratio of
0.5 has been used to estimate the mix design.
Table 12 · Estimated (theoretical) mix design
Volume
%

Density
(kgm3)

Coarse aggregate

53.0

2650

Coarse aggregate

1405 kgm3

Fine aggregate

18.7

2650

Sand aggregate

496

kgm3

Binder

27.7

3120

Cement

338

kgm3

Voids

0.6

Water

169

kgm3

Total

100.0
Density

2406 kgm3

Slump without plasticiser

30-60 mm

28-day strength

45.5

Component

Fluorescent intensity

0.45-0.55

Preferred water/cement ratio

0.5

Maximum aggregate size, mm

20

crushed

Estimated mix design

w/c
0.5

Calculated cement content 14.0

MPa
%

The estimate assumes that no air entrainment agent or plasticiser is present
NOTE: It must be emphasised that the estimation of concrete mix design by petrographic methods is
subject to many potential errors. It should not be used as a substitute for appropriate and approved
methods of chemical analysis and physical testing.

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Petrographic Report - Concrete

4

Summary

4.1

Concrete C1

A Client

1. One core sample of concrete was investigated to assess concrete quality and any
evidence of degradation. A thin section was prepared parallel with the long axis of the
core from an area near the base of the sample provided.
2. The cement appears to be Ordinary Portland Cement; there is no petrographic evidence
of any admixtures or air entrainment.
3. The estimated mix design appears to be within normal limits.
4. The coarse aggregate is composed of crushed limestone.
5. The fine aggregate is a beach sand.
6. Chert and volcanic glass make up circa 2.7 % of the total aggregate (modal analysis).
Chert and volcanic glass are considered potentially alkali–silica reactive components.
However, chert and glass in this sample show no evidence of alkali-silica reaction and/or
fracturing.
7. There is no evidence of any other aggregate instability or aggregate binder reaction in
the sample.
8. The sample appears to be completely uncarbonated except for trace patchy carbonation
in the surface 10 mm of the concrete.
9. Carbonation of the concrete is not a problem in itself as it does not significantly alter the
strength of the concrete. However, it is a potentially serious problem if the carbonation
penetrates to the depth of steel reinforcement, where it may facilitate corrosion and
associated expansion of the steel.
10. No reinforcement was observed in this sample.
11. There are traces of secondary sulphates in some voids and peripheral microfractures
and the surrounding binder, particularly in areas of slightly higher porosity, however there
is no evidence of significant sulphate attack.
12. The sample shows no evidence of microfracturing related to sulphate replacement of the
binder or other aggregate-related degradation.
13. The concrete in this sample shows no evidence of macroscopic fracturing relating to
degradation and appears to be currently sound.

4.2

Concrete C2

1. One core sample of concrete was investigated to assess concrete quality and any
evidence of degradation. A thin section was prepared parallel with the long axis of the
core from an area which appeared to show the most evidence of degradation.
2. The cement appears to be Ordinary Portland Cement; there is no petrographic evidence
of any admixtures or air entrainment.
3. The estimated mix design appears to be within normal limits.
4. The coarse aggregate is composed of crushed limestone.
5. The fine aggregate is a beach sand.
6. The fine aggregate contains a minor amount of chert and volcanic glass (circa 2.5 % of
the aggregate total, modal analysis) and the coarse aggregate contains a minor amount
of greywacke (< 5 % of the aggregate total, visual estimate). Chert, volcanic glass and
greywacke are considered potentially alkali–silica reactive components. However, in this
sample these components show no evidence of alkali-silica reaction and/or fracturing.
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7. Carbonaceous limestone aggregate fragments shows evidence of internal fracturing and
the development of radial cracking and alkali silica gels. Although limestone aggregates
are generally considered to be of low reactivity, there have been some cases where
silicification of limestones has been identified as the source of deleterious ASR. Silicified
limestone is not widely considered a high risk aggregate and only a small number of
cases of reaction with this aggregate have been reported in the UK. It is possible that
some unusual environmental conditions, such as high alkali cement, may have caused
the aggregate to react.
8. Fractures related to development of alkali-silica gels in the sample show patchy
distribution through the core sample. The microfractures typically contain discontinuous
linings and fills of alkali-silica gel and fibrous ettringite, with gel usually overgrowing the
sulphates (though in some places sulphate also overgrows gel). The binder around some
carbonaceous aggregate samples also shows significant gel replacement, in patches Ø
< 2 mm.
9. The most likely cause of the ASR development is due to the concrete being continuously
wet which allows the alkalinity of the pore fluid to increase to a point where any
microcrystalline and/or highly strained quartz reacts. The presence of sulphate
replacement in the uncarbonated binder is further evidence that the concrete has been
wet for prolonged periods. The presence of carbonated gel and evidence that ASR
fracturing has caused reinforcement corrosion suggests that some of the gel is relatively
old. However, it is not possible to determine whether alkali-silica reaction in the concrete
has ceased or is ongoing.
10. There are traces of secondary sulphates, alkali-silica gel linings and iron oxides in some
voids, peripheral microfractures and the surrounding binder, particularly in areas of
slightly higher porosity, however there is no evidence of significant sulphate attack.
11. The core is completely uncarbonated except for a strong carbonation layer around some
fractures and patchy carbonation of alkali-silica gel.
12. Carbonation of the concrete is not a problem in itself as it does not significantly alter the
strength of the concrete. However, it is a potentially serious problem if the carbonation
penetrates to the depth of steel reinforcement, where it may facilitate corrosion and
associated expansion of the steel.
13. Three 2 mm reinforcement bars were observed in the core sample at 35-42 mm depth.
These pieces of reinforcement show no evidence of corrosion or microfracturing. The
core also contains evidence of steel reinforcement at a depth of 60 mm from the surface.
The reinforcement is extremely corroded and shows multiple radiating sub horizontal
microfractures, the fractures are iron oxide filled and there is locally strong iron oxide
impregnation of the binder.
14. The cause of corrosion is due to air ingress and carbonation. The process has a positive
feedback because as the steel becomes more corroded it expands further creating more
fractures, thus allowing further air ingress and corrosion of the steel.
15. Due to the evidence of degradation from both ASR and reinforcement
sample provided, the concrete and the associated structure requires
damage and ongoing close monitoring. It is recommended that the
concrete in proximity to any reinforcement be ascertained because of
corrosion observed.

5

corrosion in the
assessment for
condition of the
the evidence of

Images

Colour images (scanned images and annotated photomicrographs of each sample)
begin over-page.

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5.1

A Client

Sample C1
A

Sample C1

Photograph of sample as received
(scale in cm).
Image A
Fuji S3 Pro digital camera
Daylight balanced oblique light

Thin section(s)
B

Sample C1

Low magnification view of sample thin
section. (Orientation arrow points
towards drilling surface.)
Image B
Epson scanner
White cold cathode light

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Petrographic Report - Concrete

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Photomicrographs
C
shell

Sample C1

General view of sample showing all
main phases.

limestone

void

Image C
Nikon Microphot-FXA petrological
microscope
Plane polarised transmitted light
x40

quartz

shell

500 µm

D
shell

Sample C1

View of image C in cross polarised
light.

limestone

void

Image D
Nikon Microphot-FXA petrological
microscope
Cross polarised transmitted light
x40

quartz

shell

500 µm

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Petrographic Report - Concrete

A Client
E

Sample C1

Image showing minor ettringite in
voids.
void

ettringite

Image E
Nikon Microphot-FXA petrological
microscope
Plane polarised transmitted light
x200

ettringite

100 µm

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Petrographic Report - Concrete
5.2

A Client

Sample C2
A

Sample C2

Photograph of sample as received
(scale in cm).
Image A
Fuji S3 Pro digital camera
Daylight balanced oblique light

Thin section(s)
B

Sample C2

Low magnification view of sample thin
section. (Orientation arrow points
towards drilling surface.)
Image B
Epson scanner
White cold cathode light

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Petrographic Report - Concrete

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Photomicrographs
C

Sample C2

Image showing corrosion induced
microfracturing and iron oxide
impregnation of binder at the base of
the core.
iron oxides

limestone

microfracture

Image C
Nikon Microphot-FXA petrological
microscope
Plane polarised transmitted light
x40

quartz
iron oxides

500 µm

D

Sample C2

Image showing an area of alkali-silica
gel completely replacing the binder
around carbonaceous limestone
aggregate.
Image D
Nikon Microphot-FXA petrological
microscope
Plane polarised transmitted light
x100

gel

quartz

carbonaceous
limestone

250 µm

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Petrographic Report - Concrete

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E

Sample C2

Image showing alkali silica gel and
ettringite within microfractures. An
area of gel replacing the binder is also
visible.
gel

Image E
Nikon Microphot-FXA petrological
microscope
Plane polarised transmitted light
x200

gel
microfracture

gel
ettringite

100 µm

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