Original paper

Collapse sinkholes in Campania (southern Italy): predisposing factors, genetic hypothesis and susceptibility

Prete, S. Del Di Crescenzo


This paper aims at furnishing a contribution to the knowledge of collapse sinkhole genesis and evolution, outlining the main potentially susceptible areas in Campania. Sinkholes occur throughout the Campania territory both in soils and in rocks. Sinkholes in strongly karstified carbonate massifs are described by means of geological and geomorphological analyses. The interpretation of air photographs and topographic maps allowed the recognition of 77 sinkholes which were catalogued on the basis of their main morphometric features (depth, axial length, volumes, etc.) and geological (lithological, structural) and hydrogeological context. The collected data show that volumes involved in the collapse generally range from 105 to 106 cubic meters and that the presence of strongly jointed rocky masses and of mineralised springs are among the main predisposing factors. In some cases (Sorrento Peninsula) big tension fractures, up to 100 m deep and some hundreds meters long, were found in the up-slope side of the sinkholes. In other cases, sub-circular concave morphologies, representing incipient sinkholes, were detected in the surrounding area. These data suggest high instability conditions along the slopes affected by sinkhole formation and evolution. In a few cases it was possible to establish that collapse sinkholes formed in historical times triggered by strong earthquakes. Althouh many of the studied sinkholes are located in the vicinity of urban areas or close to important infrastructures, their presence was not taken into account neither for the construction of underground works nor for territorial planning.


karstcollapse sinkholeslope instabilitysouthern apennines