Cryogenic powderization of Triassic dolostones in the Buda Hills, Hungary

Zsófia Poros, Hans G. Machel, Andrea Mindszenty, Ferenc Molnár

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Disintegration of dolostones to dolomite powder (powderization) was a widespread phenomenon in Triassic dolostones of the Buda Hills, where the areal extent of powdered dolostones is large compared to similar occurrences elsewhere in the world. In the Buda Hills, dolostone disintegration proceeded in four stages that correspond to a gradual decrease in particle size, that is, from the parent dolostone to (1) crackle breccia; via (2) mosaic breccia (diameter <2 cm); via (3) mosaic breccia blocks 'floating' in dolomite powder; to (4) dolomite powder (diameter 100-300 μm). Stable isotope ratios and trace element compositions of dolomite remained constant throughout these stages, and there are no indications of dissolution in most locations, suggesting that disintegration was predominantly a mechanical process. Combining these findings with the geological history of the region, and supported by a simple freezing/thawing experiment and pertinent experimental studies on weathering of building stones, it appears that powderization in the Buda Hills was caused by repeated freeze-thaw cycles during and/or after the Pleistocene glaciations. Subaerial exposure under cold climate conditions involves multiple freeze-thaw cycles that create mechanical stresses in the rock framework related to the opposing thermal expansion of rock and water that freezes and of ice that liquefies. This process is herewith called 'cryogenic powderization'. Our data further suggest that the synergy of four factors promoted dolostone powderization in the Buda Hills: (1) tectonics, which created a pervasive fracture network; (2) intercrystalline porosity of the dolostone; (3) relatively high water saturation; and (4) subaerial exposure under cold climate conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1513-1539
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2013


  • Buda Hills
  • Cryogenic powderization
  • Dedolomitization
  • Physical weathering
  • Triassic dolostone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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