Precipitation of manganese oxides on the surface of construction materials in the Khmer temples, Cambodia

Etsuo Uchida*, Ryota Watanabe, Satomi Osawa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In addition to the blackening caused by blue-green algae growth, other black areas on the surface of construction materials (e.g., sandstone, laterite and bricks) are frequently observed in the Khmer temples in Cambodia. A non-destructive on-site investigation was carried out using a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer (pXRF). In addition, samples were taken from the buildings and were analyzed using an X-ray diffractometer (XRD) and a scanning electron microscope with an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer, and were observed using a field emission scanning electron microscope. Results and conclusions: A non-destructive investigation using the pXRF revealed that this blackening was caused by manganese oxide precipitates. The precipitates contained small amounts of Ni, V, Zn, Y, K, Cl, S, Pb, and Cr. The XRD analysis indicated that the manganese oxides were mainly present as an amorphous phase, but some formed birnessite and todorokite. The manganese precipitates were mostly in a hexagonal plate form (100-300 nm), but some were in a rod-shape, which may have been caused by the activity of manganese oxidizing microbes. Preliminary experiments on removal of manganese oxide precipitates were conducted. The manganese oxide precipitates could be easily removed using a reducing agent such as an oxalic acid solution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
JournalHeritage Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Birnessite
  • Cambodia
  • Khmer temple
  • Manganese oxide
  • Manganese oxidizing microbe
  • Todorokite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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