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Abstract

In order to, respectively, assess the resource vulnerability and the source vulnerability of the Alburni karst system (southern Italy), the COP and VULK methods have been applied in the framework of the ‘European Approach’ as proposed in 2003 by the COST (Co-Operation in Science and Technology) 620 task group – Action: ‘Vulnerability and Risk Mapping for the Protection of Carbonate – Karst – Aquifers’. The Alburni massif, with more than 500 caves, is the most important karst area of southern Italy. The drainage network is not continuous; there are several endoreic basins and large zones without superficial drainage but with many sinking streams (streams disappearing into swallow holes) and dolines. The caves (more than 100), well explored by speleologists, directly communicate with the above mentioned infiltration areas. The most important ones are hierarchically well organized and extend over a wide area. Some of them recharge important springs with very short transit times. The final vulnerability map shows that the prevalent vulnerabilities are high and very high owing to the widespread karstification and the presence of large vegetated areas with gentle slopes that favour fast infiltration on the plateau.

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