13 luglio 2020

Progetto MaGIC - Marine Geohazards along the Italian Coasts

Punta a definire gli elementi di pericolosità dei fondali dei mari italiani, per migliorare l'attività di mitigazione del rischio e la gestione di eventuali emergenze

MaGIC is a five-year national project, started in 2007, aimed at mapping geohazard-related features of the Italian seafloor to improve risk mitigation activities and the management of emergencies. The project analysed the underwater areas facing the central-southern Italian peninsular coast, Sicily, Sardinia, and Liguria.

The Project was funded by the Civil Protection Department – Presidency of the Council of Ministers as part of a Framework Programme Agreement with the National Research Council – CNR. The MaGIC project involved the almost entire community of Italian marine geologists, with researcher from CNR institutes; Universities represented by the National Interuniversity Consortium for Marine Sciences - CoNISMa, and from the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics - OGS; moreover, a research unit from the University of Nice was also involved to test the methodology of the project also in French territorial waters.

72 maps of geohazard-related features at 1:50,000 scale were realized along the Italian coastlines, plus a supplementary (73rd) map relative to the French territory. Each map is geo-referenced and organized in four interpretative levels. The first level shows the physiographic domains, which represent the overall geological and physiographic context of the area of concern; the second level shows the morphological units, including the morpho-bathymetric elements and “critical points” that represent the third and fourth level, respectively. Specifically, the “critical points” indicate areas worth of higher attention (for a brief description of the MaGIC products see the attached document).

In 2015 the Civil Protection Department started the continuation of the project - called "MaGIC 2" with a duration of one year - to improve the use for civil protection purposes of the large amount of data produced by the MaGIC project. The working group involved in the research is the same of the MaGIC, under the coordination of CNR-IGAG.

Within the MaGIC 2 Project, the critical points previously identified by MaGIC were hierarchically ordered and each of them associated with a class of susceptibility ("low", "medium", "high"), with respect to the possible effect - direct or indirect - on the coast and the stretch of sea in front of them. Based on the spatial analysis of the morpho-bathymetric  features mapped in the 72 maps produced by MaGIC project, the Italian coasts have been also roughly classified according to their susceptibility to the main marine geo hazards, including potentially "tsunamigenic" landslides and faults, retrogressive erosion that can trigger coastal landslides, emissions of fluids and underwater volcanic eruptions. To provide a more realistic assessment of the effects of underwater landslides on the coast, an advanced classification of the Calabro-Tyrrhenian coastline between Scilla and Gioia Tauro villages has been tested (see the attached document for a summary description of the MaGIC 2 products).

In 2015, the Civil Protection Department signed an agreement with the Hydrographic Institute of the Italian Navy for the exchange of hydro-oceanographic data, which ended in 2020. Bathymetric data provided by IIM for the marine sectors closest to the coast (from 0 to 50 meters depth) have been integrated with those previously acquired by the MaGIC Project.

The products of the MaGIC project, and its continuation MaGIC 2, are displayed and downloadable, in different formats, on this platform.

The metadata describing, contextualizing and specifying the user license of the products are availableon the Metadata Catalogue of the Civil Protection Departement.

The MaGIC project analyzed and mapped the main marine geohazard-related features along most of the Italian seafloor, including:

  • Submerged Volcanic centers;
  • Landslide scars and signs of incipient underwater instability;
  • Surface faults, as clues of recent tectonic activity;
  • Canyons and erosive areas;
  • Structures linked to the leakage of fluids from the seafloor.

The mapping of such geohazard-related features may provide some hints for a better assessment of their associated hazard. For example, canyon heads evolving retrogressively may reach the coast causing coastal landslides or even the collapse of port structures, as happened in the port of Gioia Tauro in 1977. Submarine landslides can also generate local but catastrophic tsunami, as for instance occurred along the NW flank of Stromboli in 2002.

By using the mapping of the geohazard-related features realized in the MaGIC project, the MaGIC 2 project focused on their spatial distribution and main morphometric characteristics (dimensions, volumes, slopes) to highlight the areas worthy of further investigation, deemed as potentially dangerous, and to classify the hazard susceptibility of the facing coastal stretches in relation to the main geohazard. 

The knowledge on the main marine geohazards that characterize the Italian seafloor is useful to the Civil Protection Department for the mitigation of related risks and the management of possible emergencies.

The knowledge of the main morpho-bathymetric elements and the identification of potentially dangerous situations for infrastructures and urbanized coastal area allows the elaboration of risk scenarios and a better understanding of the causes of possible tsunamis, eruptions or underwater landslides that may occur in the submarine territory surrounding the coasts of the country.

The availability of detailed bathymetries can contribute to the operative management of emergencies for the set-up of instruments and structures as well as used as a benchmark for successive bathymetric comparisons in case that hazardous events will occur along the areas mapped by the project.

 The MaGIC project collected high-resolution bathymetric data at depths ranging between ca. 50 and 500-1000 meters, along most of the Italian continental margins.

Multibeam echosounders were used to map the seafloor, i.e. devices emitting a range of high-frequency acoustic pulses transverse to the ship's course that, once backscattered from the bottom, return to their source and are converted to quoted points. The data were processed through dedicated software and displayed as isobath maps, shaded reliefs, or three-dimensional surfaces.

The Italian oceanographic ships that acquired the multibeam data used by the project are R.V. Urania and Maria Grazia of CNR, R/V Universitatis of Conisma, R/V Explora of Ogs, all equipped with different multibeam echosounders. In the coastal sector, where necessary, small boats were also used.

The MaGIC project started during the emergency of Stromboli volcano, in 2002, when the Civil Protection Department and the scientific community of marine geology started collaborating after the tsunamigenic landslide occurred on the 30 December 2002. In this case, the possibility to compare the multibeam bathymetry acquired some days after the tsunami event with that collected about a year before the event, was fundamental to compute the geometry and volume involved in the 2002 submarine failure event and understand its triggering mechanism and post-failure behavior.

The successive bathymetric monitoring of the seafloor also allowed to assess the effect of the 2007 eruptive crisis on the seafloor stability of the submarine slope of the Sciara del Fuoco. Repeated multibeam bathymetries demonstrated to be an effective tool to control the evolution of the associated volcanic and landslide phenomena, being thus complementary to the subaerial monitoring of the Sciara del Fuoco.

From this platform, you can display and download the products created within the MaGIC project and its continuation MaGIC 2.

MaGIC. For each of the 73 maps created, called "sheets" - including the French experimental map, cartographic and geographic data are available in the formats "Geotiff", "Grid" and "Shapefile".

For each sheet, “descriptive notes” are also provided to explain the main characteristics and data available of the investigated area as well as the “critical points” here present. In addition, excel files ("UM sheets") including a first summary of the main morphometric characteristics of each "morphological unit" are present.

The "Geotiff" data format contain, for each sheet, information both on the bathymetry and the four interpretative levels:  physiographic domains (level 1), the morphological units (level 2), morphobatimetric elements (level 3) and the critical points (level 4).

The data in ASCII Grid format contain bathymetric grids in text format with resolutions of 1 point every 50 m x 50 m, 1 point every 100 m x 100 m, and 1 point every 200 m x 200 m for different bathymetric ranges. The data in the "Shapefile" format contain the location of the 72 sheets, the "morphological units", and the "critical points" of the cartographic sheets produced.

For each sheet, there are also the "isobaths" with equidistance of 10 m in the first 150 m water depths, and of 50 m at greater depths.

MaGIC 2. For the classification of critical points, ordered hierarchically according to the degree of susceptibility, geographical data are available in "Geotiff", "Shapefile" and tabular formats. Moreover, the list of products contains 13 PDFs with a detailed description of the main significant “critical points”.

The data concerning the preliminary classification of the susceptibility of coastal stretches, divided into geographical areas, are available in "Geotiff" and "Shapefiles" formats, with the indication of morpho-bathymetric elements (lines and points), tsunamigenic landslides and coastal stretches. The advanced classification of the Calabrian-Tyrrhenian coastline is available in the "Geotiff" and "Shapefile" formats.

The series of available products is completed by the "Geotiffs" obtained from data provided by the IIM in areas not covered by the MaGIC project, and the text files resulting from the digitalization of the sounding graphs made available by the IIM. With regard to these data, it should be noted that they cannot be used for purposes other than those of civil protection without the specific authorization of the IIM and that they cannot be used for commercial purposes and the production of cartography for navigation.

Finally, the "Nomenclature Guide" for the MaGIC project and the methodological documents for the MaGIC 2 extension are available.

For further information, it is possible to consult the Metadata Catalogue of the Civil Protection Departement describing, contextualizing and specifying the user license the data produced within the MaGIC project. Once opened the link, to view the specific metadata, insert the word "MaGIC" in the search bar.