Strategic Research Project “Landslide risk”

Research Unit 5 (RU5)

SRP “Landslide risk”



Research Unit 5 (RU5):

Bari Unit of the Research Institute for Geo-hydrological Protection (IRPI) of the Itaian National Research Council (CNR)

Members of the Research Unit 5:

  • Dott. Francesca Santaloia (Researcher IRPI/CNR) – Scientific coordinator
  • Dott. Piernicola Lollino (Researcher IRPI/CNR)
  • Dott. Maurizio Polemico (Researcher IRPI/CNR)
  • Prof. Nicola Casagli (Full Professor in Engineering Geology at the University of Florence)
  • Limoni Pierpaolo (Graduated technician IRPI/CNR)
  • Dragone Vittoria (Graduated technician IRPI/CNR)
  • Geologist as contract worker
  • Engineer as contract worker

Curriculum Vitae of the scientific coordinator of RU 5

Born on 5th August 1965

Education and Titles

1991: Graduated with honours in Geology at the Faculty of Mathematic, Physical and Natural Sciences of the University of Bari. Qualification for geological profession.

1990-1992: specialization courses on the “Hydrogeological Hazard” organised by CNR-GNDCI, WARREDOC and by the USGS at the IRPI- CNR in Perugia.

1991-1994: Spit PhD at the Earth Sciences Department of the University of Milan; title of Philosophy Doctor (PhD) in Engineering Geology conferred in October 1995.

1992-1993: Attendance of the courses of Master of Science in Soil Mechanics at the Imperial College (London University) and research activity concerning the stability of some London Clay slopes with Prof. R.J. Chandler.

1995-1996: CNR scholarship at the Institute of Clay Research of Tito Scalo (Potenza, the present Institute of methodologies for environmental analysis, IMAA-CNR).

1996-1997: CNR scholarship at the Study Centre on Water Resources and Territory Protection of Bari (the present Research Institute for Geo-hydrological Protection, IRPI-CNR).

1997-1999: Post-doctorate grant at the Geotechnical Engineering, Geology and Engineering Geology Section of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the Technical University of Bari.

1999-2001: Research grant at the Geotechnical Engineering, Geology and Engineering Geology Section of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the Technical University of Bari.

2001 to present: Researcher in Engineering Geology at the Bari Unit of the Research Institute for Geo-hydrological Protection (IRPI-CNR).

Teaching activity

1993-1995: Seminar meetings on geological topics within the course in “Geology and Geotechnics” (Prof. A. Federico) at the 2nd Engineering Faculty of the Technical University of Bari.

1998-1999: Tutoring in the course in Engineering Geology (Prof. L. Monterisi) for the diploma in Engineering at the Technical University of Bari.

1999: Teaching on the subject “Geological and structural setting of the Gargano (Puglia, southern Italy and its influence of the karst elements” within the Operating Program 1994/99 “Research, Technological Development and High Training” at the Study Centre on Water Resources and Territory Protection of Bari (the present Research Institute for Geo-hydrological Protection, IRPI-CNR).

1997 up to present: Seminar activities within the course in Slope Stability for the degree in Civil Engineering (1997-2000 and 2003 up to present: Prof. F. Cotecchia, 2000-2003 Prof. A. Amorosi) at the Technical University of Bari.

2003-2004: Collaboration to the teaching of the module “Slope failure risk” within the International Master Course in “Environmental Policy and Management” organised by the Technical University of Bari and the Institut des Sciences Appliqués de Lyon (INSA).

Research collaborations

1998 -1999: Collaboration research with the City University of London about “Planning of structure and infrastructure development and design in highly landslide-prone areas”, financed by British Council – MURST (Scientific coordinators: Prof. M.R. Coop and Prof. F. Cotecchia).

1998-2000: Participation to the MURST Project “ex-quota 40%” “Gravitational deformations and risk mitigation criteria”, Politecnico di Bari Researh Unit coordinated by Prof. V. Cotecchia.

1998-2003: Component of the research unit 2.32 of the National Group for the Defence from Natural Catastrophes (Research on “Prediction and prevention of high-risk landslides”).

2001-2003: Participation to the research unit of the Technical University of Bari (“Slope failure mechanisms: monitoring and modelling”) coordinated by Prof. F. Cotecchia within the national research project, PRIN, financed by MURST, “Living with landslides: effects on infrastructures and urban areas. Intervention strategies for risk mitigation”, nationally coordinated by Prof. Picarelli.

2001-2004: Partecipation to the Project CRYSTECHSALIN (Crystalisation technologies for prevention of salt water intrusion) - Fifth framework programme of the European Community (1998 - 2002). Research coordinator of the project: Prof. G. Ziegenbalg (TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany), partners: IRPI-CNR (Bari, Italy), Nottingham University (Great Britain), Amsterdam Vrije University (Holland), Technion (Haifa, Israel), Gent University (Belgium), Geoservice (Thessaloniki, Greece), Rodio S.p.A. (Milan, Italy), Eleftheron Municipality (Greece), Bradano and Metaponto Land-reclamation syndicate (Matera, Italy) 2007 to present: Coordination of the IRPI-CNR research unit within the Strategic Research Project “Landslide risk assessment for the planning of small centres located in chain areas: the case of the Daunia region”, coordinated by Prof. F. Cotecchia and financed by the Apulia Region for the years 2007 to 2010.


  • Member of the Society of the Geologists of thePuglia Region from 1992
  • Member of the International Association of Engineering Geology from 2003
  • Member of the Italian Geological Society from 2003

Research Activity

Since 1991 her research activity is mainly addressed to the landslide processes, in relation to the geological and structural settings of the slopes and to the landslide deformation mechanism. During her activity, the geological setting and evolution of the landslide areas, as the failure mechanism of the unstable slopes, result mainly from the field surveys, in situ and laboratory investigations field monitoring and slope stability analyses. She has studied different slow slope movements in both chain areas (Cervarezza, Vadoncello-Serra del’Acquara) and pedeapenninic areas (Ancona, Petacciato, Lucera) which involve mainly clayey-silty successions, clay and sedimentary rocky sequences. During the years, she has analysed the mineralogical and structural features’ influence on the mechanical behaviour of structurally complex clayey successions. At the end, in her research she has also developed geological analyses of coastal aquifers, aimed at their hydrogeological characterisation and at their monitoring through experimental field, and analysis of erosion processes acting on silty-clayey slopes. She reviews papers for Engineering Geology. She is the author of different papers published in either international or national journals, and in proceedings of national and international conferences and symposia. Six of these papers are recalled in the following:

  • Santaloia F. & Cancelli A. (1997) - "Landslide evolution around Mt. Campastrino (Northern Apennine): a complex and composite gravitational movement”. Engineering Geology, 47, 217-232.
  • Santaloia F., Cotecchia F. & Polemio M. (2001) – “Mechanics of a tectonized soil slope: influence of boundary conditions and rainfalls”. Quaterly Journal of Engineering Geology, 34, 165-185.
  • Cotecchia F. & Santaloia F. (2003) – “Compression behaviour of structurally complex marine clays”. Nakase Memorial Symposium on “Soft Ground Engineering in Coastal Areas”, Nagase, Yokosuka, Japan, 63-72.
  • Santaloia F., Cotecchia V., Monterisi L. (2004) – “Geological evolution and landslide mechanisms along the central Adriatic coastal slopes”. A.W. Skempton Memorial Conference, London, 2, 943-954.
  • Santaloia F., Lollino P., Amorosi A., Cotecchia F., Parise M. (2004) – “Slope instability processes of stiff clayey slopes under excavation”. In Lacerda W. A, Ehrlich M., Fontoura S. A. B. & Sayão A. S. F.(eds), Landslides: Evaluation and Stabilization, Proc. IX International Symposium on Landslides, Rio de Janeiro, 28 June - 2 July 2004, 2, 1201-1206.
  • Cotecchia F., Vitone C., Cafaro F. & Santaloia F. (2006) – “The mechanical behaviour of intensely fissured high plasticity clays from Daunia”. Proceedings Second International Workshop on Characterisation and Engineering properties of natural Soils (NS2006), Invited Lecture- Singapore, 29th November-1st December 2006, vol. III, 1975-2003.

Description of the RU5’s research program

The research program proposed by the RU5 will deal with the assessment of landslide hazard in two unstable areas of Daunia territory, whose instability processes should be representative of landslides occurring in the Apulia chain sector and with similar features to the Apennines’ mass movements. The research will focus in detail on the landslide susceptibility, which is part of the hazard and refers to the likelihood of a landslide occurrence in an area on the basis of local terrain and boundary conditions. This susceptibility should result from the analyses and the understanding of the geological and geomorphological settings of the unstable and stable slopes studied slopes, and also of the mechanics of the relative landsliding. The mechanisms of slope deformation will be so deduced, in collaboration with RU1 and RU4, according to the results of the field surveys, ground investigations, monitoring, laboratory testing and to numerical modelling. These mechanisms will be inferred also from the results of the geological and geomorphological studies carried out mainly by RU5.

After a detailed analysis of the Italian landslide archives (AVI, SCAI, IFF, PAI), a study of the existing bibliography about geological set-up and landslides in the Daunia Apennines, field surveys will be carried out together with the other units of the project. All these activities will be aimed at selecting the areas where the deterministic methodology for the landslide risk assessment will be carried out. After selecting the areas to study, the research activity will be performed in areas with two different ranges of scale: a wider area (municipal scale) and a smaller area (slope scale). The last one will be included within the first area and identifies the pilot sites whose instability processes will be studied in detail also by means of ground investigations and monitoring activities (geotechnical, hydrogeological and topographical measurements). These field activities will be carried out in collaboration with the other research units and some of the enterprises, participating in the project (Codevintec, Idrogeo, Leica Geosystem). At the same time, the RU5, with RU1 and RU4, will supply the research unit 3 (RU3) with the elements useful for the assessment of landslide hazard in the chosen areas.