Galvanic removal of metallic wrought iron from marine Encrustations
Historic shipwrecks frequently contain a large proportion of wrought-iron tools, fasteners, and other types of artefacts. Encrustations readily form around such objects in many marine environments. Depending on many factors, the iron objects inside these encrustations may be well preserved, completely disintegrated, or poorly preserved but still present. The latter type of encrustation is every conservator's nightmare because removing the encrustation yields merely a poorly preserved artefact still in need of extensive additional conservation. Neatly separating the artefact from its encrustation in order to obtain a natural mould for casting is generally impossible. Having encountered this problem many times, the authors began to experiment with the extraction of metallic iron from poorly preserved encrusted artefacts using galvanic dissolution. Data on rates of dissolution were gathered for three experimental configurations. The results of a test conducted on an encrusted artefact were promising, but inconclusive.