DOCUMENTATION PROTOCOLS TO GENERATE RISK INDICATORS REGARDING DEGRADATION PROCESSES FOR CULTURAL HERITAGE RISK EVALUATION
Keywords: Cultural Heritage, Documentation, Risks, Vulnerability, Degradation Processes, Risk Indicators
Abstract. Sustainable maintenance and preservation of cultural heritage assets depends highly on its resilience to external or internal alterations and to various hazards. Risk assessment of a heritage asset's can be defined as the identification of all potential hazards affecting it and the evaluation of the asset's vulnerability (building materials and building structure conservation state).Potential hazards for cultural heritage are complex and varying. The risk of decay and damage associated with monuments is not limited to certain long term natural processes, sudden events and human impact (macroscale of the heritage asset) but is also a function of the degradation processes within materials and structural elements due to physical and chemical procedures. Obviously, these factors cover different scales of the problem. The deteriorating processes in materials may be triggered by external influences or caused because of internal chemical and/or physical variations of materials properties and characteristics. Therefore risk evaluation should be dealt in the direction of revealing the specific active decay and damage mechanism both in mesoscale [type of decay and damage] and microscale [decay phenomenon mechanism] level. A prerequisite for risk indicators identification and development is the existence of an organised source of comparable and interoperable data about heritage assets under observation. This unified source of information offers a knowledge based background of the asset's vulnerability through the diagnosis of building materials' and building structure's conservation state, through the identification of all potential hazards affecting these and through mapping of its possible alterations during its entire life-time. In this framework the identification and analysis of risks regarding degradation processes for the development of qualitative and quantitative indicators can be supported by documentation protocols. The data investigated by such protocols help identify the parameters needed for the assessment of the preservation state of a monument and its monitoring through its entire lifetime. The main tool for detecting these indicators is a diagnostic methodology based on appropriate standards that reveals the actual degradation processes responsible of the asset's vulnerability. It is very important that the integration between the material's diagnosis and the overall documentation is taken into consideration in order to identify the required levels of protection and preventive conservation for heritage assets depending on the most frequent local risks. The ranging of risks is therefore necessary according to their importance in each area. Documentation protocols provide with a specific diagnostic tool for materials characterization, decay diagnosis, evaluation process of former conservation materials and interventions, standard procedures for monitoring and control as well as data documentation based on specific guidelines and standards. Implementation and analysis of a "standardised" diagnostic study will reveal the main risks due to degradation processes affecting the heritage asset to be subsequently recorded in order to result into risk indicators. The development of risk indicators regarding degradation processes is the basic step towards uptaking efficient management, preventive conservation and strategic planning for heritage assets against various threats. These risk indicators could be further elaborated according to the activities of inspection, diagnosis and intervention works, offering scientific support to the decision making process for cultural heritage preventive conservation and overall protection.