Black limestone samples from the quarries of Varenna (Lecco, I), Cene (Bergamo, I) and Riva di Solto (Bergamo, I) and widely used in Lombard architecture have been studied in terms of mineralogical, petrographic and chemical properties in order to provide a detailed characterisation and allow an unambiguous determination of their provenance. The inorganic and organic fractions have been separated from each other, and investigated using X-ray powder diffraction, atomic absorption, Hg-porosimetry, high performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, nuclear magnetic resonance and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The occurrence of specific mineral phases, some binary chemical patterns (Fe/Mn, Zn/Sr, Zn/Co and Na/Cd) and the carbon chain relative molecular masses has proven to be useful markers to characterise unequivocally the materials studied.
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