Articles | Volume 8, issue 4
19 Aug 2008
 | 19 Aug 2008

The study of past damaging hydrogeological events for damage susceptibility zonation

O. Petrucci and A. A. Pasqua

Abstract. Damaging Hydrogeological Events are defined as periods during which phenomena, such as landslides, floods and secondary floods, cause damage to people and the environment.

A Damaging Hydrogeological Event which heavily damaged Calabria (Southern Italy) between December 1972, and January 1973, has been used to test a procedure to be utilised in the zonation of a province according to damage susceptibility during DHEs. In particular, we analyzed the province of Catanzaro (2391 km2), an administrative district composed of 80 municipalities, with about 370 000 inhabitants.

Damage, defined in relation to the reimbursement requests sent to the Department of Public Works, has been quantified using a procedure based on a Local Damage Index. The latter, representing classified losses, has been obtained by multiplying the value of the damaged element and the percentage of damage affecting it.

Rainfall has been described by the Maximum Return Period of cumulative rainfall, for both short (1, 3, 5, 7, 10 consecutive days) and long duration (30, 60, 90, 180 consecutive days), recorded during the event.

Damage index and population density, presumed to represent the location of vulnerable elements, have been referred to Thiessen polygons associated to rain gauges working at the time of the event.

The procedure allowed us to carry out a preliminary classification of the polygons composing the province according to their susceptibility to damage during DHEs. In high susceptibility polygons, severe damage occurs during rainfall characterised by low return periods; in medium susceptibility polygons maximum return period rainfall and induced damage show equal levels of exceptionality; in low susceptibility polygons, high return period rainfall induces a low level of damage.

The east and west sectors of the province show the highest susceptibility, while polygons of the N-NE sector show the lowest susceptibility levels, on account of both the low population density and high average rainfall characterizing these mountainous areas.

The future analysis of further DHEs, using the tested procedure, can strengthen the obtained zonation. Afterwards, the results can prove useful in establishing civil defence plans, emergency management, and prioritizing hazard mitigation measures.