Massive destruction of carbonate rocks occurred on the slopes of Mount Carmel during the severe wildfire in 2010. The bedrock surfaces exhibited extensive exfoliation into flakes and spalls covering up to 80-100% of the exposed rocks; detached boulders were totally fractured or disintegrated. The fire affected six carbonate units - various types of chalk, limestone and dolomite. The burned flakes show a consistent tendency towards flatness, in all lithologies. The extent of the physical disruption depends on rock composition: the most severe response was found in the chalk formations covered by calcrete (Nari crusts). These rocks reacted by extreme exfoliation, at an average depth of 7.7 to 9.6cm and a maximum depth of 20cm. Scorched and blackened faces under the upper layer of spalls provide strong evidence that chalk breakdown took place at an early stage of the fire. It is possible to explain the extreme response of the chalks by the laminar structure of the Nari, which served as planes of weakness for the rock destruction. Three years after the fire, the rocks continue to exfoliate and break down internally. As the harder surface of the Nari deteriorates, the more brittle underlying chalk is exposed to erosion.
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© IAWF 2015.
- post-fire weathering
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