Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky, Brian Marker

Biological Weathering

  • Maria Heloisa Barros de Oliveira FrascáEmail author
  • Eliane Aparecida Del Lama
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73568-9_29


Biodeterioration; Organic weathering; Weathering by organisms


Mineralogical components of rocks are altered and modified when exposed to Earth surface conditions in response to different atmospheric agents and insolation that may result in the disaggregation (physical weathering) or the decomposition (chemical weathering) of the rock. When these processes are assisted by biologic action they are called biological weathering.

Organisms may alter rock by both mechanical and chemical actions. The penetrating and expanding pressure of plant roots in cracks, fractures, pores and other discontinuities may cause the rupture and disaggregation of the rock, if there are favorable conditions and the strength of the rock is lower than that applied by the roots (Fig. 1). Penetration and expansion of lichen thalli has a similar behavior to that of the roots since some thalli may expand up to 3900 per cent due to their high content of gelatine (Bland and Rolls 1998).
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bland W, Rolls D (1998) Weathering: an introduction to the scientific principles. Arnold, London, 271 pGoogle Scholar
  2. Caneva G, Nugari MP, Salvadori O (2009) Plant biology for cultural heritage: biodeterioration and conservation. Getty Publications, Los Angeles, 400 pGoogle Scholar
  3. Griffin PS, Indictor N, Koestler RJ (1991) The biodeterioration of stone: a review of deterioration mechanisms, conservation, case histories and treatment. Int Biodeterior 28:187–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hueck HJ (2001) The biodeterioration of materials – an appraisal. Int Biodeter Biodegr 48:5–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Yatsu E (1988) Weathering by organisms. In: The nature of weathering: an introduction. Tokyo, Sozosha, pp 285–396Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Heloisa Barros de Oliveira Frascá
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eliane Aparecida Del Lama
    • 2
  1. 1.MHB Geological ServicesSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Institute of GeosciencesUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil