Field Kit and Methodology for Detecting, Measuring, and Remediating Salt Attack (Salt Weathering) in Adobe and Earthen Structures

Image of report cover


Salt attack (salt weathering) is an insidious natural process that threatens historic and cultural resources around the world. Driven by capillary action coupled with evaporation of salt-laden moisture, salt attack is accelerating the loss of historic adobe and other masonry buildings in the arid southwestern United States.1 Because salts often provide a footprint for moisture movement, understanding and visualizing salt concentrations can yield useful forensic insights into building issues. Precisely locating and measuring concentrated salts allows them to be targeted for removal as a part of informed remediation—setting the clock back for affected structures.

Man using a drill-like tool to take a core sample out of an exterior wall.

The sampling tool is advanced into the wall at suitable increments while holding the collection tube with the other hand

Mesilla Valley Preservation, Inc. (MVP) employed a generous NCPTT grant to design a field toolkit for both collection and accurate measurement of salt loads in the field. MVP then used the tools to evaluate remediation techniques with permeable sacrificial mud and lime plasters. Print, presentation, and video media were created to instruct, communicate, and raise awareness around salt attack and its effective remediation.

Video Series:

Salts of the Earth: When Salts Attack! (1)

Salts of the Earth: Identifying Salt Attack (2)

Salts of the Earth: Understanding Salt Attack (3)

Salts of the Earth: Accurately Detecting and Measuring Salts in the Field (4)

Salts of the Earth: Remediating Salt Attack with Permeable Sacrificial Renders (5)

Salts of the Earth: Adobe Sample Collection (6)

Salts of the Earth: Lab Kit and Calibration (7)

Salts of the Earth: Sample Processing and Analysis (8)