1) Co-Principal Investigator, University of New Mexico, Department of Anthropology,

2) Principle Investigator, University of Vermont, School of Engineering,


The Spanish Colonial church at Mission San José de Tumacácori in Arizona was built in 1801 of adobe and finished with decorated lime and gypsum plasters. In January 2010, an intense winter rainstorm resulted in leaks in the nave roof, partial collapse of the west altar window, and losses of painted plaster on the altar dome interior. With the primary goal of conserving the dome’s decorated plasters, the University of New Mexico and the National Park Service embarked on a multi-year project to study and model moisture distribution in the dome to identify conditions under which infiltration by precipitation moisture occurs; characterize soluble salts on the dome surface and project the temperature and relative humidity conditions that result in crystallization/deliquescence cycling; conduct initial structural assessments to identify structural and seismic vulnerabilities; and stabilize and repair the west window and damaged plasters in the dome.


Keywords: adobe, lime, decorative plaster, conservation, moisture distribution, Spanish colonial, soluble salts, grouting, seismic, structural modelling