Research institute for geo-hydrological protection (IRPI)


We study meteo-hydrologic processes at all scales. This includes studying processes involved in the formation of floods, developing tools for hydro-meteorological monitoring/modelling and the evaluation of soil water content, and for flood hazard and risk assessment. The hydrology group in Perugia performs most of our meteo-hydrologic R&D activities. Their models are operational in regional civil protection centres and they are part of the EUMETSAT Hydrologic SAF consortium.

We study groundwater resources and karst systems. Through field measurements, laboratory analyses and 3D modelling, the groundwater group in Bari studies groundwater vulnerability and designs management strategies considering climate change, saltwater intrusions, pollution and engineering works. The karst group, also in Bari, experiments methods and tools for the detection, monitoring and analysis of hazards in karst areas, including sinkhole hazard mapping/modelling, degradation/pollution of karst environments and analysis of floods in karst areas.

Related to hydrology is the study of sediment dynamics for landscape modelling and hazard/risk assessment. The research is executed integrating monitoring and morphometric modelling of VHR LiDAR elevation data. In Padua, a group monitors debris flows in two Alpine catchments that are part of a European network for sediment monitoring, and designs morphometric techniques for automatic classification using LiDAR data. In Torino we develop a system for seismic monitoring of debris flows, and we exploit LiDAR data for river sediment analysis.

We study landslides from different perspectives. A group in Perugia develops methods for the semi-automatic mapping of event landslides using VHR satellite/aerial imagery, for erosional studies and improved response/recovery. We advance methods for landslide hazard assessment including susceptibility modelling, designing local/regional/national warning systems, studying earthquake-induced landslides and links between geological settings and landslide types & patterns. We operate SANF, a unique early warning system for the operational forecast of rainfall-induced landslides in Italy developed for the Italian Department for Civil Protection. We experiment approaches for landslide susceptibility/hazard zoning and release software for statistical susceptibility modelling and the analysis of landslide sizes. In Bari, we study earthquake-induced landslides and how seismic shaking affects landslides.

We test technologies and design tools for landslide monitoring & modelling. The geo-monitoring group in Torino develops HW & SW for real-time topographic monitoring of surface/subsurface deformations of complex landslides in Europe. They monitored the Costa Concordia wreck at the Isola del Giglio. In Padua we exploit fibre optics for structural monitoring. In Cosenza a group combines topographic and sub-surface monitoring with geological/geotechnical data to typify landslides. A team combines satellite-based DInSAR measurements, subsurface measurements and geotechnical data in advanced Finite Element Models for deep-seated landslide kinematic analysis/forecast.

We study the effects of climate change on the hydrology of small catchments, the frequency of landslide-triggering rainfall events, the type and size of landslides. A group in Torino investigates geomorphological processes in glacial/alpine environments and performs climatic and hydrologic studies in mountain basins revealing a link between air temperature and abundance of rock failures.

Through the analysis of information on damage caused by landslides and floods, we study vulnerability to these hazards. Results are significant for the design of mitigation/adaptation strategies and for insurance companies. We measure the risk posed by landslides and floods to the population, and we study risk perception. We disseminate information on landslide & flood risk to the population of Italy through the POLARIS web portal.

We exploit new and existing technologies to develop innovative monitoring systems and we engage in technology brokerage efforts. In cooperation with SIAP+MICROS we developed ALMOND-F, a unique system for the seismic monitoring of debris flows with built-in alarm capabilities. We developed a low cost Automated Inclinometric System (AIS) for the automated measurement of deformations in deep boreholes, and the Image Detection Monitoring System (IDMS) for the continuous & automatic monitoring of surface displacements of landslides. Both systems have built-in alarm capabilities. We further developed 3DA software for the 3D Displacement Analysis and display of point deformation measurements. Using user-defined thresholds, 3DA can send warning/alarm messages. We exploit fibre optics (FOS, with very low Technology-Readiness-Level) for environmental monitoring. With ENI, a leading oil & gas exploration/exploitation company, we tested FOS as distributed sensors for the detection of oil (hydrocarbons) in deep water. With Avago, we experiment new FOS for the static monitoring of structures for health appraisal. We have a broad programme to exploit remote (airborne & satellite) sensing technologies. With Altamira international (Spain) we improve rapid mapping capabilities of event landslides, and the modelling of deep-seated slides. We contribute to the EUMETSAT Hydrologic SAF consortium by integrating innovative soil moisture and rainfall products for improved flood forecasting.