Rendiconti Lincei

, Volume 25, Supplement 2, pp 151–165 | Cite as

Mutual interactions between slope-scale gravitational processes and morpho-structural evolution of central Apennines (Italy): review of some selected case histories

  • Carlo EspositoEmail author
  • Emiliano Di Luzio
  • Gabriele Scarascia Mugnozza
  • Gianluca Bianchi Fasani
Intermontane basins in central-southern Italy


This short note focuses on the review of some selected large slope instabilities, such as massive rock slope failures, that occurred in slopes well representative of widespread morpho-structural settings in the central Apennines (Italy). The analyses of such case histories highlight (a) the role of inherited geological and morpho-structural features on failure mechanisms and (b) the interplay between such processes and the Quaternary morpho-structural evolution of the mountain chain. Some of the here described rock slope failures are framed within wider slope sections showing evidence of slope-scale gravitational deformation processes. Some cases demonstrate that the activation of the latter is strongly controlled by stress variations induced on the slopes by the combination of erosional processes and tectonic offset, i.e. topographic stress increase that typically accompanied the Quaternary morpho-structural evolution of the orogen. Furthermore, some case studies confirm also for central Apennine that the occurrence of large-sized rock slope failures actively contributed to morpho-genesis, as the effect of the deposition of the related debris on the valley bottom can result in long-term impacts on environmental conditions, such as topographic, hydrologic and hydrogeological variations.


Massive rock slope failure DSGSD Morpho-structural evolution Central Apennines 


  1. Agliardi F, Crosta GB, Frattini P (2012) Slow rock-slope deformation. In: Clague JJ, Stead D (eds) Landslides types, mechanisms and modeling. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 207–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ascione A, Cinque A (1997) Le scarpate su faglia dell'Appennino meridionale: genesi, età e significato tettonico. Il Quaternario 10:285–292Google Scholar
  3. Bianchi Fasani G, Cavinato GP, Petitta M, Scarascia Mugnozza G, Voltaggio M (2008) The engineering geological model of Celano town area for seismic microzonation activities. Soil Dyn Earthq Eng 28:978–985CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bianchi Fasani G, Di Luzio E, Esposito C, Martino S, Scarascia Mugnozza G (2011a) Numerical modelling of Plio–Quaternary slope evolution based on geological constraints: a case study from the Caramanico valley (central Apennines, Italy). Geol Soc Lond Spec Publ 351:201–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bianchi Fasani G, Esposito C, Petitta M, Scarascia Mugnozza G, Barbieri M, Cardarelli E, Cercato M, Di Filippo G (2011b) The importance of geological models in understanding and predicting the life span of rockslide dams: the case of Scanno lake, central Italy. Natural and artificial rockslide dams. Lect Notes Earth Sci 133:323–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bianchi Fasani G, Di Luzio E, Esposito C, Martino S, Scarascia Mugnozza G (2014) Quaternary, catastrophic rock avalanches in the central Apennines (Italy): relationships with inherited tectonic features, gravity-driven deformations and the geodynamic frame. Geomorphology 211:22–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bosi C, Galadini F, Giaccio B, Messina P, Sposato A (2003) Plio–Quaternary continental deposits in the Latium-Abruzzi Apennines: the correlation of geological events across different intermontane basins. Il Quat 16:55–76Google Scholar
  8. Brideau M-A, Yan M, Stead D (2009) The role of tectonic damage and brittle rock fracture in the development of large rock slope failures. Geomorphology 103:30–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cavinato GP, De Celles P (1999) Extensional basins in the tectonically bimodal central Apennines fold-thrust belt, Italy: response to corner flow above a subducting slab retrograde motion. Geology 27:955–958CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cavinato GP, Carusi C, Dall’Asta M, Miccadei E, Piacentini T (2002) Sedimentary and tectonic evolution of Plio–Pleistocene alluvial and lacustrine deposits of fucino basin (central Italy). Sediment Geol 148:29–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Centamore E, Nisio S (2003) Effects of uplift and tilting in the central-northern Apennines (Italy). Quat Int 101–102:93–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cinti G, Donati A, Scarascia Mugnozza G (2001) La grande frana di Monte Arezzo (Abruzzo). Mem Soc Geol Ital 56:41–50Google Scholar
  13. Cipollari P, Cosentino D (1991) La linea Olevano-Antrodoco: contributo della biostratigrafia alla sua caratterizzazione cinematica. Studi Geologici Camerti vol Spec. 1991/2. pp 143–149Google Scholar
  14. Colacicchi R (1967) Geologia della marsica orientale. Geol Romana 6:189–316Google Scholar
  15. Cosentino D, Cipollari P, Marsili P, Scrocca D (2010) Geology of the central Apennines: a regional review, In: Beltrando M, Peccerillo A, Mattei M, Ponticelli S, Dogliosi C (eds) The geology of Italy, Electronic Edition. J Virtual Explor p 36Google Scholar
  16. DISS Working Group (2010) Database of individual seismogenic sources (DISS) version 3.1.1: a compilation of potential sources for earthquakes larger than M 5.5 in Italy and surrounding areas.
  17. D’Agostino N, Jackson JA, Dramis F, Funiciello R (2001) Interactions between mantle upwelling, drainage evolution and active normal faulting: an example from the central Apennines (Italy). Geophys J Int 147:475–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Di Luzio E, Bianchi Fasani G, Saroli M, Esposito C, Cavinato GP, Scarascia Mugnozza G (2004) Massive rock slope failure in the central Apennines (Italy): the case of the Campo di Giove rock avalanche. Bull Eng Geol Environ 63:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dramis F (1992) Il ruolo dei sollevamenti tettonici a largo raggio nella genesi del rilievo appenninico. Stud Geol Camerti Spec 1992(1):9–15Google Scholar
  20. Esposito C, Bianchi Fasani G, Martino S, Scarascia Mugnozza G (2013) Quaternary gravitational morpho-genesis of central Apennines (Italy): insights from the Mt Genzana case history. Tectonophysics 605:96–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fort M, Cossart E, Deline P, Dzikowski M, Nicoud G, Ravanel L, Schoeneich P, Wassmer P (2009) Geomorphic impacts of large and rapid mass movements: a review. Geomorphologie 1:47–64Google Scholar
  22. Galadini G (2006) Quaternary tectonics and large-scale gravitational deformations with evidence of rock-slide displacements in the central Apennines (central Italy). Geomorphology 82:201–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Galadini F, Galli P (1999) The Holocene paleoearthquakes on the 1915 Avezzano earthquake faults (central Italy): implications for active tectonics in the central Apennines. Tectonophysics 308:143–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Galadini F, Messina P (2004) Early–Middle Pleistocene eastward migration of the Abruzzi Apennine (central Italy) extensional domain. J Geodyn 37:57–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Galadini F, Messina P, Giaccio B, Sposato A (2004) Early uplift history of the Abruzzi Apennines (central Italy): available geomorphological constraints. Quat Int 101–102:125–135Google Scholar
  26. Guthrie RH, Evans SG (2007) Work, persistence, and formative events: the geomorphic impact of landslides. Geomorphology 88:266–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hermanns RL, Longva O (2012) Rapid rock-slope failures. In: Clague JJ, Stead D (eds) Landslides types, mechanisms and modeling. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 59–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hermanns RL, Strecker MR (1999) Structural and lithological controls on large Qauternary rock avalanches (sturzstroms) in arid northwestern Argentina. Geol Soc Am Bull 111:934–948CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hewitt K, Clague JJ, Orwin JF (2008) Legacies of catastrophic rock slope failures in mountain landscapes. Earth Sci Rev 87:1–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hungr O, Evans SG (2004) The occurrence and classification of massive rock slope failure. Felsbau 22:1–12Google Scholar
  31. Malinverno A, Ryan WBF (1986) Extension in the Tyrrhenian Sea and shortening in the Apennines as a result of arc migration driven by sinking of the lithosphere. Tectonics 5:227–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Miccadei E (1993) Geologia dell’area Alto Sagittario—Alto Sangro. Geol Romana 29:463–481Google Scholar
  33. Moro M, Chini M, Saroli M, Atzori S, Stramondo S, Salvi S (2011) Analysis of large, seismically induced, gravitational deformations imaged by high-resolution COSMO-SkyMed syntheticaperture radar. Geology 39:527–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nanni T, Rusi S (2003) Idrogeologia del massiccio carbonatico della montagna della Majella (Appennino centrale). Boll Soc Geol It 122:173–202Google Scholar
  35. Nicoletti PG, Parise M, Miccadei E (1993) The Scanno rock avalanche (Abruzzi, south-central Italy). Boll Soc Geol Ital 112:523–535Google Scholar
  36. Paolucci G, Pizzi R, Scarascia Mugnozza G (2001) Analisi preliminare della frana di Lettopalena (Abruzzo). Mem Soc Geol Ital 56:131–137Google Scholar
  37. Patacca E, Scandone P (1989) Post-Tortonian mountain building in the Apennines. The role of the passive sinking of a relict lithospheric slab. In: Boriani A, Bonafede M, Piccardo GB, Vai GB (eds) The lithosphere in Italy, 80. Atti Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Roma, pp 157–176Google Scholar
  38. Petitta M, Scarascia Mugnozza G, Barbieri M, Bianchi Fasani G, Esposito C (2010) Hydrodynamic and isotopic investigations for evaluating the mechanisms and amount of groundwater seepage through a rockslide dam. Hydrol Process 24:3510–3520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pizzi A (2003) Plio–Quaternary uplift rates in the outer zone of the central Apennines fold-and-thrust belt, Italy. Quat Int 101–102:229–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Scarascia Mugnozza G, Bianchi Fasani G, Esposito C, Martino S, Saroli M, Di Luzio E, Evans SG (2006). Rock avalanche and mountain slope deformation in a convex, dip-slope: the case of the Majella Massif (central Italy). In: Evans SG, Scarascia Mugnozza G, Strom AL, Hermanns RL (eds) Landslides from massive rock slope failure. Nato science series book, IV Earth and Environmental Sciences, vol 49. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 357–376Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlo Esposito
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emiliano Di Luzio
    • 2
  • Gabriele Scarascia Mugnozza
    • 1
  • Gianluca Bianchi Fasani
    • 3
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraSapienza Università di RomaRomeItaly
  2. 2.CNR-ITABC (Istituto Tecnologie Applicate ai Beni Culturali)Monterotondo St, RomeItaly
  3. 3.Centro di Ricerca CasacciaENEA Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibileSanta Maria di Galeria, RomeItaly

Personalised recommendations