5 December 2013

An interesting landslide at Montescaglioso in Southern Italy

Posted by Dave Petley




Reports are coming in a large landslide yesterday at the town of Montescaglioso in Basilicata in Southern Italy.  The BBC for example has this report, there is a nice gallery of images here, and there are a few videos of it as well:

The reports suggest that it occurred after a period of heavy rainfall.  The slide appears to have caused extensive damage, including the collapse of a supermarket, but it has not caused any loss of life.

This is the area affected by the landslide as per Google Earth.  The landslide is in the foreground – the large red-roofed building is the Lidl supermarket that has been destroyed, as per the screenshot at the top of this post:

13_12 Italy landslide 1..

Note that there is no shortage of pre-existing landslides in the above image – this is clearly a very landslide-prone area.  The landslide itself appears to have affected this part of the town:

13_12 Italy landslide 3..

Interestingly, this area is known to be affected by a large mass movement, which is known as the “Madonna La Nova” landslide.  There is a poster here (NB pdf) that described remote sensing work that has been undertaken on it, and there is at least one published paper that describes it (but which I cannot access because it is behind a paywall).  My very initial interpretation would be that this is the boundary of the major landslide complex (and note that the historic town has not been built in this area):

13_12 Italy landslide 6..

I have also highlighted the location of the supermarket.  An interesting question to ponder is why the supermarket was built at this location, given that the historic town appears to have avoided the landslide-affected area.