Italian Geological Maps – More than a colored picture - Using geological maps to support better policies for society

GEOLOGICAL MAPS: instruments for land knowledge

Geological maps represent the fundamental tool for land management, for the correct use of natural resources and for the assessment of land vulnerability.

This exhibition documents how a geological map is surveyed and produced, which kind of data are stored in it and how a geological map can be used for convenient applications, with important consequences on people’s life.

Five Italian areas, with different geological setting and characteristics have been selected. For each area, the history of the improvement of the geological knowledge is illustrated by the description of the different generations of geological maps, highlightening the contribution that updated geological mapping provides both to the scientific community and to the entire society.

The purpose of this exhibition is to demonstrate that the geological knowledge is a complex topic that requires the experience of well-trained and up-to-date geologists, able to provide a database to support decision for land and resources management: the cost of the geological knowledge of a territory is surely less than the price of ignoring its fragility.



Italy is entirely covered by 1:100,000 scale official geological maps, produced from the end of the 19th century to 1976 by the Geological Survey of Italy.

After some preliminary tests in the 70s, at the end of the 80s of the XX century a new project of geological mapping (CARG) started: this project was expected to completely cover Italy with 1:50,000 official geological maps, in order to update and improve the knowledge of the national territory. The CARG project also envisaged the creation of a digital database in a GIS environment, correctly considered a fundamental tool for the integration of the geological database with other data sets.

Regrettably, after a promising kick-off, in the year 2000 the governmental financial support to the CARG project completely stopped and never resumed. For this reason, only part of the national territory is presently covered by modern, updated and digital geological maps. Several critical parts of Italy, such as the area of Amatrice recently destroyed by an earthquake, are nowadays lacking reliable, updated geological maps: several geologically fragile parts of the Italy are devoid of this knowledge that is needed to contribute significantly to the complex process of land management.


AN EXHIBITION TO UNDERSTAND – an informative journey and examples of the use of geological maps

The exhibition is divided in six themes, each of them described by three panels

Table of contents:

1A, B, C – Geological mapping: what a geological map is and how it is made

2A, B, C  – Geology of the Alps. Across Valtellina and Alto Adige-Südtirol. From printed geological maps to the digital database.

3A, B, C  – Geology of the plains. Po Plain and study of seismically-induced sediment liquefaction.

4A, B, C  – Geology of the Central Apennine. The Piana del Fucino and L'Aquila. Seismic microzonation.

5A, B, C  – Geology of volcanic areas: the Vesuvio. Volcanic hazards.

6A, B, C  – Geology and man: the Gulf of Taranto. Geology of the sea-bottom.


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