Mexican experts are taking part in the restoration and preservation of the monolith dedicated to the rain god Tlaloc at the National Anthropology Museum, or MNA, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, said.

Working on the restoration of the pre-Columbian sculpture discovered in 1964 in Mexico state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, was a team from the Center for Applied Science and Technological Development, or CCADET, while the Geology Institute, or IGL, developed petrographic and mineralogical studies to establish its composition.

The monolith, which weighs 167 tons and is 7 meters (23 feet) tall, was moved to the MNA 50 years ago and stands on the sidewalk of the iconic Paseo de la Reforma thoroughfare in downtown Mexico City.

"Its antiquity called for a restoration and preservation project well beyond the capabilities of the MNA, which therefore asked for help from specialists in other areas, including those from UNAM," Gerardo Ruiz Botello, a member of the CCADET, said.

Also collaborating on the project were CCADET groups from the areas of Materials and Nanotechnology, Image Analysis and Display, Precision Engineering and Weights & Measures, as well as Micromachinery and Mechatronics.

After 50 years this sculpture has suffered damage, so that it is crucial to determine whether this deterioration implies a loss of data, the MNA'S Sergio Gonzalez Garcia said at the Preservation of the Tlaloc of Coatlinchan conference.

The experts plan to make a meticulous inspection to identify the causes, mechanisms and effects of the deterioration. Based on that it will be possible to prepare a long-term plan for its maintenance and monitoring, Gonzalez Garcia said.

Among the causes, mechanisms and effects that could play a part in its deterioration, the expert mentioned water filtration, the migration of salts, the scraping of particles, erosion from the flow of water and scaling. EFE