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The Guardian Weekly - - Comment & Debate - Ro­man con­crete Ni­cola Davis

Their struc­tures are still stand­ing more than 1,500 years after the last cen­tu­rion snuffed it: now the Ro­mans’ se­cret of durable con­crete has fi­nally been cracked. The Ro­man recipe – a mix of vol­canic ash, lime (cal­cium ox­ide), sea­wa­ter and lumps of vol­canic rock – held to­gether piers, break­wa­ters and har­bours. More­over, in con­trast to mod­ern ma­te­ri­als, the an­cient wa­ter-based struc­tures be­came stronger over time. Sci­en­tists say this is the re­sult of sea­wa­ter re­act­ing with the vol­canic ma­te­rial in the ce­ment and cre­at­ing new min­er­als that re­in­forced the con­crete.

Writ­ing in the jour­nal Amer­i­can Min­er­al­o­gist, Marie Jack­son, a ge­ol­o­gist at the Univer­sity of Utah, said: “I think [the re­search] opens up a com­pletely new per­spec­tive for how con­crete can be made – that what we con­sider cor­ro­sion pro­cesses can ac­tu­ally pro­duce ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial min­eral ce­ment and lead to con­tin­ued re­silience, in fact, en­hanced per­haps re­silience over time.”

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