Preliminary geochemical characterization of groundwater drained by the Roman emissary of Lake Albano (Italy)

  • Paolo Madonia
  • Marianna Cangemi
  • Carla Galeazzi
  • Carlo Germani
  • Mario Parise
  • Rocco Favara
Original Article


Many lakes have been the object of hydraulic works in historical times, and the drainage tunnel carved by Romans for regulating the level of Lake Albano (Central Italy) can be considered as one of the most important historical hydraulic tunnels in the world. We sampled and analysed lake water, as well as groundwater samples from the Lake Albano emissary and another hydraulic work in the area (Ninfeo), which were analysed for their geochemical and isotopic composition in order to extract useful information for a possible reuse of the tunnel for anthropogenic purposes. The collected water samples exhibit common chemical features, typical of water–rock interaction processes in volcanic areas. Analyses of minor and trace elements confirmed the abovementioned results, indicating the presence of an atmospheric pollution source for heavy metals, although their concentrations are mostly below the Maximum Admitted Concentrations for drinking water issued by the World Health Organization. The chemical composition of dissolved gases indicated that both lake and groundwater are mainly enriched in CO2. Isotopic analyses suggested a clear volcanic origin for CO2 dissolved in lake water, while carbon dioxide in groundwater from the Roman emissary is produced by soil respiration. As further confirmed by Oxygen and Deuterium isotopic composition, the Roman emissary drains local suspended aquifers neither in contact with the lake water body nor influenced by volcanic activity, suggesting the opportunity to use the tunnel as a “zero-condition” monitoring site for individuating a possible future renewal of volcanic activity.


Hydrochemistry Isotopes Lacustrine environment Drainage tunnel Volcano monitoring 



We wish to thank the Editor in Chief James W. LaMoreaux and three anonymous reviewers who gave us useful suggestions for improving this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INGV, Sezione di PalermoPalermoItaly
  2. 2.Egeria Centro Ricerche SotterraneeRomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity “Aldo Moro”BariItaly

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