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An X-Ray Diffraction Analysis of the Patina of the Statue of Liberty

  • R. J. Matyi (a1) and R. Baboian (a2)

Abstract

An X-ray powder diffraction analysis has been performed on several samples from the naturally occuring patina of the Statue of Liberty. This work, which was conducted as a service to the National Park Service as part of the restoration activities for the Statue, was performed to assess the impact of acid deposition on the phase composition of the patina. Samples of the patina that were obtained from various locations on the copper skin of the Statue were found to consist primarily of the basic copper sulfate known as brochantite or CuSO4·3Cu(OH)2. Another less stable form of basic copper sulfate CuSO4·2Cu(OH)2 known as antlerite was also observed in samples taken from areas that are more exposed to the incoming weather in New York harbor. The presence of antlerite supports the contention that acid deposition is promoting undesirable changes in the phase composition of the patina. Analyses were also performed on patina samples that were taken from pieces of the Statue's copper skin that had been removed in the years 1905 and 1980. X-ray powder diffraction of the corrosion product on the 1905 sample showed that it consisted primarily of the stable brochantite phase, while the 1980 sample displayed both copper chlorides as well as the less stable antlerite. Both samples also contained cuprite (Cu2O) which appears to have formed prior to either of the sulfates.

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References

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