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Abstract

This paper describes a case study in the Salento karst (Apulia, southern Italy) in a site that has been intensively used to quarry limestones in the last 30 years. After quarrying activity had stopped, the site was transformed into legal and illegal landfills where solid and liquid wastes have been repeatedly dumped, with serious consequences for the groundwater resources. In this paper, through a geological, petrographical and hydrogeological approach, we attempt to assess the consequences of the anthropogenic activities on the local hydrogeology, with particular regard to the surficial aquifer that is contained in the Plio-Quaternary calcarenites cropping out in the area. Application of some well-known methods to assess the vulnerability of aquifer systems to contamination by human activities (DRASTIC, SINTACS, LeGrand and GOD) highlights the limits of such an approach in karst environment, and the necessity to include in the methods data strictly related to the peculiarity of karst. This is further evidenced by application of the EPIK method, specifically designed for karst areas. The final part of the paper focuses on the need of a thorough understanding of the hydrogeological setting for a better management and policy action of karst environments.

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