Sinkhole genesis and evolution in Apulia, and their interrelations with the anthropogenic environment
- 1National Research Council, IRPI, Via Amendola 122-I, 70125, Bari, Italy
- 2Politecnico di Bari, II Facoltà di Ingegneria, V.le del Turismo 8, 74100, Taranto, Italy
Abstract. Sinkhole development occurs in many areas of the world where soluble rocks crop out. Sinkholes are generally the surface expression of the presence of caves and other groundwater flow conduits in carbonate rocks, which are solutionally enlarged secondary permeability features. Their formation may be either natural or caused by man's activities. In both cases, heavy consequences have to be registered on the anthropogenic environment and related infrastructures. Knowledge of the mechanism of formation of this subtle geohazard is therefore necessary to planners and decision makers for performing the most appropriate and suitable programs of land use and development.
The Apulia region of southern Italy is characterized for most of its extension by carbonate rocks, which makes it one of the most remarkable example of karst in the Mediterranean Basin. Based on analysis of literature and in situ surveys, including caving explorations, we have identified in Apulia three main types of possible mechanisms for sinkhole formation: 1) collapse of a chamber in a natural cave or in man-made cavities; 2) slow and gradual enlargement of doline through dissolution; 3) settlement and internal erosion of filling deposits of pre-existing dolines. Since sinkhole formation very often affects directly the human settlements in Apulia, and have recently produced severe damage, some considerations are eventually presented as regards the interrelationships between sinkholes and the anthropogenic environment.