Invited Seminar, University of Limerick: The mica crisis in Donegal: a case of internal sulphate attack?

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


In County Donegal, thousands of homes built with concrete blocks show an increasing degree of severe structural defects attributed to high mica content in the aggregates. Consequently, the problem is popularly known as the mica crisis. In this project the concrete blocks of four affected homes are investigated by microstructural and chemical analysis combined with thermodynamic modelling.

Apart from mica, the aggregates contain iron sulphides mainly in the form of pyrrhotite. The sulphur content of the aggregates considerably exceeds the limit value defined by the European standard for concrete aggregates (EN 12620). The results of the microstructural analysis coupled with thermodynamic modelling demonstrate that the concrete suffers from internal sulphate attack triggered by pyrrhotite oxidation. The comparison of the results of this investigation with the data collected by chartered engineers on almost a hundred damaged homes shows that the four investigated cases are representative of the situation in Donegal.
Period10 Nov 2023
Held atMACSI, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland, Ireland
Degree of RecognitionLocal


  • Pyrrhotite
  • internal sulfate attack