Surface damage from perpendicular and oblique bullet impacts in stone

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Oliver Campbell , Tom Blenkinsop , Oscar Gilbert , Lisa Mol 


Controlled experiments were conducted to investigate the surface damage caused by perpendicular and oblique impacts of bullets into sandstone and limestone targets. Individual bullets fired in conditions simulating modern rifles at typical combat distances excavated craters with diameters from 22 to 74 mm and depths from 4 to 24 mm. Limestone target craters were up to twice as large and deep as those in sandstone. These craters have a complex shape consisting of a central excavation surrounded by a shallow dish, compared to the simple bowl shape of most sandstone impacts. Radial fractures extending to the edge of the target block were common in limestone targets. Impacts at an angle of 45° to the surface in both rock types result in asymmetric craters. Two common types of ammunition were compared: the steel-tipped NATO projectile generally produced larger and deeper craters than the projectile that is commonly fired from AK-47 rifles, despite having approximately half the mass of the latter. These results characterise the sort of damage that can be expected at many sites of cultural significance involved in contemporary conflict zones, and have important implications for their conservation.



Earth Sciences


Photogrammetry, bullet impact, crater morphology, oblique impact, asymmetry, heritage


Published: 2022-01-09 10:24

Last Updated: 2022-06-27 09:21

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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