Concrete Petrography: A Handbook of Investigative Techniques, Second Edition, 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

Concrete Petrography

A Handbook of Investigative Techniques, Second Edition, 2nd Edition

Edited by Alan B. Poole, Ian Sims

CRC Press

816 pages | 666 Color Illus.

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This classic reference has established the value of petrography as a powerful method for the investigation of concrete as a material. It provides an authoritative and well-illustrated review of concrete composition and textures, including the causes of defects, deterioration, and failure that can be identified using a petrological microscope. This new edition is entirely revised and updated and also greatly extended to take account of new scientific developments and significant improvements in instrumentation and to reflect current laboratory working practices, as well as to reflect new understanding of the performance of concrete and related materials.

Now in full color throughout, Concrete Petrography, Second Edition provides case study examples, with appropriate explanatory discussions and practical advice on selecting, handling and preparing specimens. It assists and guides the engineer, the trainee and the experienced petrographer in understanding the scientific evidence that is basic to petrographic analysis and so will lead to more accurate and timely diagnosis and treatment of problems in structural concrete.

This book includes:

  • Contributions in specialist areas by internationally recognized experts
  • Explanation of computer techniques as an aid to petrography
  • Full coverage of inspection, sampling, and specimen preparation
  • New sections covering recent technological development of equipment
  • Guidance on observation of cement and concrete mineralogy and microfabrics
  • Discussion and illustrative examples of deterioration and failure mechanisms
  • New work and guidance on the determination of water/cement ratio
  • New color illustrations and micrographs throughout
  • Thorough updating of standards, other authoritative publications, and references
  • A fully revised, extended, and updated glossary of optical and other properties


"Over the years, the first edition of Concrete Petrography has earned its spurs as a standard reference work for its target audience, and beyond. This lavishly illustrated second edition has been updated, vastly improved and extended. Its broad variety of topics caters to lab technicians, microscope operators, and academic learners. A comprehensive work like this deserves a place on the shelf of each petrographic lab or preparation room."

—Dr. Maarten A.T.M. Broekmans, Geological Survey of Norway – NGU

"… reflects decades of experience with concrete from the authors. Both are experts in the subject and a great effort is shown by the list of updated references that is included. The book not only explains the basic concepts needed for the performance of concrete petrography but also goes into unexpected detail regarding concrete composition, methods and sample preparation. The fact that it covers all the mechanisms known of concrete deterioration gives the reader important clues about the best approach on assessing a damaged structure. … It is a requisite in this area of knowledge!"

—Isabel Fernandes, University of Lisbon

"The book is encyclopaedic in character but very lucid and readable and I can truly recommend it to those who seriously investigate concrete, and especially problems in concrete in service. I know no better book on concrete petrography."

–– Adam Neville, from the Foreword

"I believe that this volume will stand for many years as the international standard and definitive source of information on the petrography of concrete and congratulate the authors on their accomplishment"

–– Sydney Diamond, Purdue University, USA in the Foreword

"This authoritative book is very welcome arrival…I sincerely congratulate the authors on their tremendous effort to produce this comprehensive invaluable text on concrete petrography…I would like to strongly recommend it to the whole cross section of professionals, researchers and academics who deal with the examination and evaluation of concrete structures, particularly those suffering from deterioration."

––Concrete Institute of Australia

"… this is one of those rare 'must read' books… this is a book that unlocks the mysteries of concrete … one of those books that one feels one must have on the technical bookshelf because you know you will want to refer to it at almost any time… a handsome book … if you are 'into' concrete in any way, you must try this book …if only for a new colourful view of the 'grey old concrete'."

–– The Structural Engineer

"… a good reference source…"

–– The Indian Concrete Journal, Sept 1998

"… a comprehensive review … this book provides a sound description of the literature of the subject … a valuable resource … an excellent introduction … a useful guide to the engineer … clear and useful photomicrographs … the value of petrography will be enhanced by this book."

–– Chemistry and Industry, April 1999

Table of Contents


Concrete petrography

Historical background

Overview of petrographic methods

Standard procedures

Objectives and coverage


Petrographic equipment and methods

Petrographic examination of concrete

Initial laboratory examination

Petrographic laboratory

Quantitative methods of component analysis

Complementary and specialised techniques

Computer-aided petrographic methods


Sampling and specimen preparation

Sampling concrete and related materials

Inspection of structures

Representative sample

Preparation of thin sections and finely ground or polished surfaces

Specimen preparation for special purposes


Composition of concrete


Cement types and binder content

Aggregate types and characteristics

Water/cement ratio

Air-void content and air entrainment

Mineral additions and pigments

Chemical admixtures

Fibre reinforcement

Analysis of concrete


Appearance and textures of cementitious materials


Optical observations of the hardened Portland cement paste matrix

Concretes containing mineral admixtures

High-alumina or calcium aluminate cement concretes

Carbonation of Portland cement concretes

Interfaces within concrete

Voids in concrete

Cracking in concrete


Examination of deteriorated and damaged concrete


Plastic and drying shrinkage

Corrosion of steel reinforcement

Frost and freeze-thaw action

Sulphate actions

Acid and alkaline attacks

Weathering and leaching


AAR involving carbonate aggregates

Damage from thermal cycling and fire


Precast and special concretes

Standard precast concrete units

Precast, block, brick, tile and pavers

Precast concrete pipes

Reinforced precast concrete units

Steam-cured precast concrete units

Composite precast concrete units and reconstituted (artificial) stone

Fibre reinforced products

Polymer cement products

Special floor coatings

Self-compacting concrete

Lightweight aggregates and concretes


Portland cement mortar, screeds, renders and special cements

Mortar and related materials

Floor screeds

Renders and cementitious plasters

Jointing and bedding mortars

Special cements and grouts

Sprayed concrete

Cementitious repair materials

Cementitious levelling compounds

Cementitious adhesive compounds


Non-Portland cementitious materials, plasters and mortars

Lime-based materials and products

Lime plasters, mortars and screeds

Gypsum-based wall plasters and plasterboard

Historic materials

Calcium silicate products

Special flooring finishes

Surface coatings


Glossary of minerals

About the Editors

Dr. Alan Poole began his career as a geologist before becoming a consultant specializing in the petrography of aggregates, concrete and related materials. He gained a wide experience of both the practical and research aspects of alkali-aggregate reaction in concrete working both in the UK and abroad. He is involved in specialist post-graduate training, with British and European standards committees and with technical working parties.

Dr. Ian Sims is a director of RSK Environment Ltd in the UK, where he is responsible for their Materials Consultancy team (including their Petrography Laboratory) and expert witness services. He is Chairman of the British Standards aggregates committee; and previously Secretary of the Geological Society (Engineering Group) working parties on Aggregates, Stone and Clay materials for construction, also their working party on Hot Deserts: engineering, geology and geomorphology, and of the RILEM international technical committees on alkali-aggregate reactivity in concrete (1988 to 2014).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Methods & Materials
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geology