Università di Catania
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Mud volcano in Santa Barbara village (Caltanissetta, Sicily) - an "open air" morphometry laboratory. Relationship between vertical deformations and evolution of the hydrographic network

A mud volcano located in central Sicily (Caltanissetta) can be used as an analogue to understand active tectonic phenomena at a larger scale.

This site provides the ideal conditions for quantitative morphology studies. Through the rapid movement of the surface induced by the activity of the mud volcano and the lithological uniformity (only clays) it has been possible to quantify variations in the hydrographic network that usually occur in very long times

An accurate surface model of the mud volcano has been obtained by photogrammetric surveys using the structure for motion (SfM) technique. The products of this method are high resolution DEM (cell size 0,017 m) and orthophotos.

These products have been developed on the GIS platform, where the basins and hydrographic networks of the structure have been carried out. The morphometric parameters of the various basins have been calculated by specific software: linear, areal and landform properties.

The comparison between the data acquired since October 2016 highlighted the variations in the landscape forms from a quantitative view.

In general, we can state that all the morphometric parameters, compared to the theoretical values, respond faithfully to the transient phases immediately subsequent to deflection and inflection of the sedimentary volcanic complex.

Furthermore the relation between the development of hydrographic network and mud volcano vertical deformation, can be compared to a regional morphological  landscape affected by active tectonic processes trough relative variations of the base level. It will be tested a new procedure to monitor and quantify the deformation trough morphometric analysis in variable magnitude scale both in space and time.

Study cycle: 
post graduate
Languages skills required: 
English B1
3 months
first semester
Accident insurance during working hours only and Liability insurance
Traineeship type: 
Erasmus traineeship