Spatial analysis of land subsidence induced by groundwater withdrawal

a b s t r a c t

A comprehensive study of the factors influencing magnitude and distribution of ground settlements observed
during the second half of the twentieth century in the area of Bologna (Italy) is presented to derive a unified
framework useful for interpreting the observed phenomena and for predicting future scenarios. Information
collected over a surface of more than two hundred square kilometres includes previous geological studies,
hydro-geological, geotechnical, and topographical investigations carried out with various purposes. The
geological features of the whole region have been initially reviewed to figure out the local geological and
hydro-geological setup. Then the stratigraphic sequence has been obtained by integrating the results of an
extensive campaign carried out over the whole region for water exploitation. The mechanical characterization
of the soil has been based on geotechnical tests performed in the area for the construction of new transportation
infrastructures. Groundwater levels, periodically recorded on a distributed net of wells, have been interpreted
with a two dimensional seepage model capable of back calculating the modification of the groundwater regime
induced by water withdrawal. The spatial and temporal distributions of settlements have been derived by
combining sequential topographical monitoring campaigns covering a period of about sixty years with satellite
records. To simultaneously analyse all information and provide an interpretation of the observed phenomena,
all data have been collected in a geographical information system interpolating the measured data with a
geostatistical method. In such a way the role of the different factors has been captured, finding a logical
correlation between land subsidence, subsoil composition and groundwater withdrawal, and a strategy has been traced which can be exported to the analysis of other similar situations

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