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Home arrow Study sites arrow Rendina Basin, Basilicata, Italy
Rendina Basin, Basilicata, Italy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joost   

Responsible IP partner: Research Institute for Hydrogeological Protection (CNR)

 1. General information

Main reason for selecting this site:
Poor care for the environmental impact of artificial reservoirs, river infrastructures, use of inadequate agricultural techniques as well as deforestation and intentional fires, are recognized to be triggering factors of high rate erosion processes, which accelerate desertification within large areas of Southern Italy (Basilicata, Sicily, Apulia, Calabria and Sardinia). Water erosion is the main type of erosion process in Southern Italy, owing to a climate characterized by very long dry seasons and short wet periods, in which most of the annual precipitation is released (generally in late fall and early spring) and by the widespread occurrence of very fine erodible Tertiary and Quaternary sediments.

The land degradation processes occurring in the study site, described in the following paragraph, are similar to those occurring in Southern Italy in general. For this reason, the study site will be a pilot-site for the analysis of the soil degradation processes connected to climate changes. The results, that will be achieved from the research activities connected to the DESIRE project, could be important for the geo-environmental evolution of some Mediterranean landscapes. Moreover, they will be useful for the mitigation of the risk connected to the soil degradation processes in Basilicata and in many areas of Southern Italy, risk mitigation which has recently become the objective of land protection policies. At the same time, a multidisciplinary study and analysis of the soil degradation processes, as  proposed for the study site, will be important for a profitable and feasible planning for the remediation of the area and of similar areas.

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2. Geographical description

ImageThe study site is located in the area around Lavello (313 and 13679 inhabitants), one of the most important towns in Basilicata. The climate is continental, and precipitation is about 580 mm per year. Within the study site, a pilot-site will probably be chosen (independently from this IP project), where a detailed study on soil loss processes and climate change will be carried out. This pilot-site is represented by the hillslopes of the artificial Rendina reservoir, which is one of the most important water resources in Southern Italy (Figure 1). Text Box: Figure 1 – Catchments in Basilicata RegionThis reservoir, created in the fifties to satisfy the agricultural water needs in the downstream area, has an upstream basin of about 400 Km2 and a water capacity of about 23 Mm3. The sedimentation rates in the lake have been high since the start of operation, so that after only 20 years the sediments had to be removed. Not accounting for the soil removed between 1963 and 1983, a mean annual erosion rate of almost 0.8 mm per year has been deduced.


A great part of soil losses estimated for the Rendina basin comes from the soil degradation occurring within the silty and clayey sediments located on the hillslopes of the Rendina lake. These soils belong both to alluvial deposits and to the marine sedimentary cycle of the Bradano Through, which crop out all over the study area. This sedimentary cycle is represented by the Subapennine Clays overlain by the Montemarano Sands and the Irsina Conglomerates at the top. In particular, all the Bradano Through cycle crops out on the right side slope of the lake while solely the Subapennine Clays crop out on both side slopes.

ImageThe Subapennine Clays are overconsolidated stiff silty clays; in the lower part of right side slopes their clay fractions appear to be higher (B1 in Figure 2) than in the upper part, where the clays are more silty and sandy (B2 in Figure 2). The Montemarano Sands  are represented (Figure 2) by sandy-clayey silts (A2 and A3a), silty-clayey sands (A1 and A3b) and by uniform sands (A4). Finally, the conglomerates (C in Figure 2) above the sands are from both carbonatic and silicate rocks, have a sandy matrix and a quite high relative density. Both clays B1 and B2 are generally found to be affected by intense weathering, due to cycles of deep drying an swelling which cause their mechanical weakening. In these soils, rills are deep and isolated and the steep slopes within clays B1 are affected by band-land-type erosion. Extensive rill erosion and piping are found within the silts. These rills may give rise to significant soil loss and develop into small gullies in winter. Landslides (shallow slides, falls and toppling) occur along the study slopes. The alluvial deposits are mainly represented by silts, and at the end of the summer they are crossed by deep rills often connected with deep pipes.

At this time, no remediation strategies for the decrease of the soil degradation along the Lavello area and the hillslopes of the Rendina Reservoir are planned even if they will be very important for the social and economical development not only of the region where the area is located but also for the nearby territory.


3. Institutional and political setting

Regione Basilicata

·        Viale della Regione Basilicata, 5– Potenza

·        Departments to contact

·        Dipartimento Ambiente, Territorio, Politiche della Sostenibilità

·        Dipartimento Agricoltura,Sviluppo Rurale, Economia Montana.


District of Potenza (Piazza delle Regioni, Potenza)

·        Assessorato Ambiente, Assetto del Territorio, Protezione Civile

·        Unita' di Direzione della Pianificazione territoriale e Ambiente

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