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Geoparks and Geo-Sites: Geological “Learning Objects”


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The paper presents a research starting from an acquired analysis of a general lack of sensitivity towards the Earth Sciences in Italian schools, also extended to the social and cultural background. This research has mainly analysed the Italian context, and it highlights that the problem resulting from a lack of sensitivity directly leads to a lack of attention to the territory which whereas requires to be protected and “geo-preserved”. If the aim is to promote the culture of geoscience, but alike to enhance the sensitivity towards geo-heritage or geo-conservation, geo-sites can become a kind of learning objects, useful in the teaching–learning process. The use of geo-sites as learning objects has been experimented effectively in various other contexts both for their scientific interest or beauty and for their dramatic aspect, in the case of a catastrophic event; whatever is the reason, they represent an opportunity for cultural enrichment and awareness. To turn the “geological object” into an opportunity to deepen in the scientific contents and to develop skills, but also to promote sensitivity and passion, the use of effective methodological approaches is however necessary.
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Geoheritage, Geoparks and Geotourism Geoconservation and Development
Section A: Concepts, Education, Methods & Approaches
31 August 2018
C. Submission of Full Paper (4000 - 8000 words) including Abstract (100 - 200 words) and Key words (4-
6) (as per Springer Guidelines): January 15, 2019
Susanna Occhipinti Geologist - PhD in Teaching Earth Science
Science teacher in secondary upper Schools, now School principal
coordinator of IESO and IGEO for Italy;
The paper presents a research starting from an
acquired analysis of a general lack of sensitivity
towards the Earth Sciences in Italian schools, also
extended to the social and cultural background. This
research has mainly analyzed the Italian context, and it
highlights that the problem resulting from a lack of
sensitivity directly leads to a lack of attention to the
territory which whereas requires to be protected and
“geo-preserved”. If the aim is to promote the culture of
geoscience, but alike to enhance the sensitivity towards
geo-heritage or geo-conservation, geo-sites can
become a kind of learning objects, useful in the
teaching-learning process.
The use of geo-sites as learning objects has been
experimented effectively in various other contexts both
for their scientific interest or beauty and for their
dramatic aspect, in the case of a catastrophic event;
whatever is the reason, they represent an opportunity
for cultural enrichment and awareness.
To turn the "geological object" into an opportunity to
deepen in the scientific contents and to develop skills,
but also to promote sensitivity and passion, the use of
effective methodological approaches is however
Learning objects, unexpected connections,
investigative approach
The paper presents a research that, starting from a
proven lack of sensitivity in Italian schools towards
geosciences, a subject rarely taught in schools with its
own epistemology, highlights the need to search for
new tools and to find new paths to increase attention
towards a territory increasingly fragile and sensitive to
geological problems.
This lack of attention to the geosciences is also
widespread in society and in the common thought; the
consequence is that the sensitivity to the issues of this
branch of science only grows, unfortunately when a
catastrophic event occurs, the scientific contents of the
discipline are likely to be seen exclusively as elements
of danger and vulnerability.
In schools, the theory is too often presented using not
involving approaches, a bit boring and not very
engaging to promote passion and interest while the
environmental and geological peculiarities should
represent a useful and significant tool to get in touch
with the culture of geosciences.
This research, based on the knowledge of the Italian
context, rich in cultural but also natural heritage, tries
to enhance, through cross-sectional surveys, sensitivity
towards naturalistic and geological values, as geo-sites
or geo-parks.
In my personal experience, as a teacher and researcher,
I have focused the attention on finding more effective
ways to create “snappy and smart” teaching tools and
paths, to support the work of teachers. I have been
working to produce educational tools which can be
described as friendly, easy to make and share, and
coherent for effective educational approaches, efficient
in promoting interest, involvement and skills.
It is a widespread belief, based on tested and shared
practices, that Science teaching-learning, should be
based primarily on active teaching methodological
approaches. These approaches are generally centered on
investigative processes, such as PBL that require to
identify driving questions, and basically need to develop
paths through hands-on laboratory activities
In the case of the so-called hard disciplines, Physics and
Chemistry, the experimental and laboratory approach is
a widespread and shared heritage, through the use of
machines, tools, objects that develop experimental
activities with increasing complexity, using the
scientific method of Galilean memory but leaving little
room for intuition and autonomous reasoning.
In natural Sciences, the experimental practice is perhaps
less widespread, but it allows the development of
operative paths which favor investigation, promote
curiosity and push the student towards the research, at
first guided by the teachers/experts, then gradually let to
become more autonomous.
In Earth science, the hands-on approach is naturally part
of the teaching of petrography and paleontology, where
the learning object can be manipulated, observed,
studied, analyzed and compared; while complex
phenomena like global tectonics, earthquakes or the
observation and study of faults and folds, require a
different approach
Moving from a classroom level, based on hands-on
practices, to an external context, which allows an
approach to natural environments, the aim is to promote
sensitivity towards geoscience, passing through geo-
sites, whether they are isolated sites or inserted in
geoparks, in order to acquire the concepts and principles
of geo-heritage and geo-conservation, but also simply to
discover the not always understandable beauties of
It is not easy, for an “uninitiated”, to appreciate the
history of a rock, the beauty of a fold, the dynamics of a
landslide, the richness of information and connections of
a stratigraphic sequence: the task of a teacher should be
not only to scientifically illustrate the phenomenon of
the fold, or the rock in which it was formed, but also to
create/show a link to Physics, temperature and pressure,
to Chemistry, composition of materials, to geological
history, the event that formed it, but also to its beauty,
as if it were a masterpiece of nature.
But, mostly, each of these natural phenomena can
become a kind of learning objects necessary to promote
sensitivity and passion. Whether they can be observed
directly in situ, (Fig. 1a, 2a) or represented through
models, (Fig. 1b, 2b) analyzed through apps or virtual
images, they allow to enhance the relationship with the
territory and its geo-conservation, and they are effective
teaching tools for the active teaching of Earth Science.
Fig. 1a- A fold in Lower Jurassic limestone layers of the
Doldenhorn nappe, Switzerland
Fig .1b- A model of fold, made with cocoa, white and yellow
flour and sandRegional scientific laboratory
The use of learning objects has been actually
experimented in various contexts: the usefulness of the
hands-on actions, and the effect of emotions towards the
teaching -learning process have been demonstrated by
using models and tools.
Fig. 2a- A deep alluvial Ouadi- Namibia
Fig. 2b- A model of water erosion- Regional scientific
An important factor favouring and implementing the
effectiveness of the teaching / learning process is, in
addition to the passion that the teacher must put in
transmitting curiosity and interest, certainly the choice
of the learning object.
The learning object must stimulate curiosity and
interest. Jérome Lalande (Fig. 3), an astrophysicist who
lived in the XVIII century, in order to attract Parisians
along the Seine to observe his telescope, extracted
spiders from his snuffbox pretending he wanted to eat
them, attracting the attention of people on what he was
doing. Anyway, without reaching these extremes, we
still need to find our “own spiders” to engage the
students. In recent years, my "spider" has been a
vibrating plate (Fig. 4) built with an old drill and an
eccentric way to simulate catastrophic earthquakes. As
many of my teaching tools, it was homemade, realized
with cheap materials mostly coming from my house, but
for this reason this vibrating table attracted the attention
of other teachers.
Fig. 3 - Gerome Lalande and his snuffbox
Fig. 4 - The vibrating plate
They saw the easiness to recreate it at school, maybe as
a school project, and also understood the potentials to
use it to carry out a number of activities (and discuss
interdisciplinary topics) with their students. The
knowledge of a "geological object" or of a phenomenon
of evolution of the territory, both for its
scientific interest, its beauty or for its dramatic aspect,
in the case of a catastrophic event, represents an
opportunity for cultural enrichment and awareness.
It is however necessary to use effective methodological
approaches, able to turn the "geological object" into an
opportunity to deepen in the scientific contents, an
instrument to promote attention and interest and to
develop skills, also through the use of known or
unexpected connections: the mediator must be able to
change the learning object into a starting point for
insights, scientific and historical connections,
emotions, all seasoned with a little passion to be
It could be useful to remember that a geo-site is a
physical element of the landscape that surrounds us for
which it is possible to "define geological-
geomorphological interest for conservation"
(Wimbledon, 1995). The landscape emergencies
definable as geo-sites are generally characterized by a
high scenic landscape value to which
representativeness, didactic exemplary, rarity and
scientific value are added. Important witnesses of the
history of the Earth, geo-sites, are an opportunity to
reveal to an audience hidden aspects of the geology of
a landscape that still has much to teach.
In the educational context, geo-sites, whether they are
environments of great scientific value, or they contain
naturalistic or cultural values, or that are simply but
significantly representative areas of natural hazards, can
therefore overcome their natural function, and can be
transformed into effective educational tools.
To become definitely learning objects, geo-sites need
appropriate requirements: accessibility, scientific
interest, richness of suggestions, but they require also
the teacher's ability to transform an object, often not so
captivating, as a rock or a landslide, into an educational
tool through effective and intriguing educational paths.
The geological phenomena identified therein in fact are
relatively interesting from a pure scientific point of
view and do not need exceptional characteristics, but,
as for more complex phenomena, some elements are, of
course, necessary to understand the phenomenon:
- a brief geological framing of the context,
- an analysis of the dynamics, history and evolution,
and of characteristics of the phenomenon.
Moreover, they must:
- be easily accessible and free of dangers, even by
students and tourists,
- or clearly visible, from far;
- be effective from an educational point of view
- be rich of connections with other scientific aspects
or other subjects,
- allow to propose foreseeable or unexpected
From the educational point of view; some
methodological educational approaches can be
suggested properly depending on the type of
pedagogical approach, geo-sites can be used as
- demonstrative educational objects, in the case of a
deductive approach, from which then recognize the
correctness of what the teacher said: the steep slope
can trigger landslides, etc.
- case analyses, in the case of the inductive approach,
from whose observation and analysis it is possible
to derivate principles and laws
- reasoning cues, especially when students are leaded
by driving questions to reasoning, favoring the
promotion of skills such as observation and
research reports, development of investigative
skills, but also modelling and extrapolation of rules
and laws.
Finally, to make the activity more effective, less banal
and engaging some suggestions could be:
- to research and to propose all the elements than can
solicit in-depth curiosity, wish to analyze, to
research and to find connections;
- to be able to make the observation of an event, past,
completed and otherwise unattractive in an
effective, exciting educational instrument.
To explain and to demonstrate the effectiveness of this
proposal, three geo-sites have been chosen, all located
in Italy, Aosta Valley, two of which within the Regional
Natural Park of Mont Avic , but many others could have
been tested and could effectively represent useful
These three were chosen because the author has studied
and has analyzed them, with their different geological
and historical aspects and they are now included in the
National Land Registry of Italian geo-sites:
nazionale-dei-geositi .
Finally, the author has tested them as learning objects
with students or visitors, on several occasions.
The phenomena that characterize them are in fact well
represented and allow numerous connections,
predictable and unpredictable, with other phenomena of
Earth Sciences, as well as other areas of the natural
sciences and with strong relationships with human
The geological site of the landslide of the Mont Avi, also
called Bellecombe, from the nearby homonymous place,
is located on the right side of the central valley of the
Dora Baltea in the Aosta Valley, between the towns of
Saint-Vincent and Montjovet. (Fig.5)
It is a significant accumulation of debris derived from
the collapse of a slope, a deep gravitational deformation
of the slope (DGPV), which affected the slope of the
Bec- Banquettes Mont starting from a height of 1800 m.
Fig. 5 - The area of the landslide
The landslide develops in serpentines and subordinates
meta basalts on an area of about 3.5 square km: two
sectors separated by a septum of rock were
distinguished, a smallest one in the western part, a
biggest one in the south eastern part.
The glacial tongue in this stretch deviates to the south
east, compared to the initial outflow towards the east,
energetically pressing the right bank of the valley.
At the time of the withdrawal, the foot of the slope, free
from the thrusts of the glacial mass, slipped towards the
valley floor; the body of the landslide shattered into
large blocks, it rose on the opposite side and barred the
valley of the Dora Baltea with an imposing dam. (fig. 6)
Fig. 6 - The body of the landslide
The river, barred by the dam formed by the landslide
body, formed a large lake, occupying the entire valley
floor at the current village of Saint-Vincent.
In the lake basin, typical lake sediments have been
deposited, in particular sands, which are now found in a
place called Sabbie Bianche (White sands).
Fig. 7 - The canyon and the ancient road
Later, the pressure of the lake basin broke through the
dam, which overturned the mass of water in the narrow
valley below, allowing the River to flow back into the
valley and digging a deep, suggestive canyon.
Obviously, it is not easy to date the event: but it is
certainly post-glacial, and an ancient Roman tomb on
the opposite side of the landslide, indicates that the event
is certainly prior to the Roman occupation, about 20
We know that the breaking of the dam led to the flooding
of the valley below, which remained marshy for a long
time, conditioning the route of the Roman road.
The valley still has a deep incision that has made the
passage of inhabitants and armies very difficult.
Communications took place, from the Middle Ages,
mainly using light signals, torches and bonfires, which
from one castle to another connected peoples and
The road that in the past connected the Low Valley to
the Saint-Vincent basin and, therefore, to the rest of the
region developed for many centuries on the opposite
Only in 1771 it was possible to build the current road,
with futuristic engineering works for those years. (Fig.
The opening of the road naturally favoured
communications between northern Europe and Italy.
In those years the vogue of the Grand Tour spread
among young aristocrats, a long journey in continental
Europe carried out by young men of the European
aristocracy and it usually included many areas of Italy
from the North to the South.
In Aosta Valley, as tourism started to develop in the
Alps, especially for spas, such as Saint Vincent,
mountaineering and climbing in Courmayeur and other
areas, an easier access contributed to the development of
culture and the economy of the territory.
The landslide, partly shaped by the action of the river,
gravity and covered by dense vegetation, preserves the
typical forms of a landslide, despite having affected a
deep depth of the slope: landslide body, detachment
niche, main escarpment.
The landslide of the Mont Avi is an effective didactic
model of how many landslides, ancient and recent, with
the body have barred the valley below, forming a dam
that has led to the formation of the lake.
The geo- site includes the valley bottom of the Chalamy
Torrent, in Champdepraz, on the edge of the Mont Avic
Natural Park. It develops on both sides of the valley
floor, from q. 650 up to q. 1200 and covers an area of
about 1 Kmq with a thickness of about 600 m. (Fig.8)
It consists of deeply and widespread fluvio-glacial
deposits, with impressive erupting escarpments and
cyclopean blocks in a precarious balance
Fig. 8 - The Chalamy Valley
The glacial fluvial deposits have a mixed origin and it is
not always easy to distinguish them from the morainic,
to which they pass upstream, and from the alluvial
deposits to which they are progressively intercalated
Fig. 9- Impressive cyclopean blocks
They are deposits with heterogeneous lithological and
granulometric characters, generally chaotic, consisting
of a predominantly fine fraction, sandy and silty, of a
grey-blue colour and of a course, heterometric fraction,
with extremely variable dimensions. (Fig.9)
A stratification is recognizable in the outcrop, linked to
the different sedimentary origin of the materials: we can
distinguish the horizons coming directly from glacial
deposition, consisting of blocks of considerable size,
several meters in diameter, immersed and incorporated
in a silty, non-stratified and chaotic matrix; and the
horizons in which the action of melting water prevails,
better selected, rich in coarse, rounded, flattened and
iso-oriented pebbles and with more or less clear
stratification in the sedimentation.
They are widely subjected to accelerated erosion
phenomena, which take on “Badlands” forms, rarely
present in the Alps, despite the absence of clay, due to
the dissolution of the carbonate matrix, the lack of
vegetation cover and the erosive and scaling action at
the base of the Chalamy Torrent and its tributaries.
As a whole, the deposit results from the alternation of
flooding events of the Chalamy river with more
typically glacial events, which correspond to the
numerous oscillations in the period of the glacial
Wurmian expansion and the late Wurm withdrawal (e.g.
Egesen Phase).
Of particular interest is the thickness of the deposits, as
they originated from the dam, caused by the presence of
the most powerful body of the Dora Baltea main glacier,
which here could reach 800 m height, enriched mainly
by the source of the Valle del Chalamy and the
contribution of the Monte Rosa glacier, which flowed
from the left along the Ayas Valley.
At least a dozen different sedimentary horizons
corresponding to the different climate pulsations can be
At present, the continuous passage of water is causing
the slopes to rise continuously, leading to the withdrawal
of the debris accumulation with a consequent widening
of the valley groove.
On these deposits the erosive action is stabilized, their
conoid is still partially active, as evidenced by the
importance of the solid contributions that even in the last
century (1952) caused catastrophic floods, which
destroyed the village of Mure, at the top of the alluvial
The construction of the road in the 70s-80s, which
replaced the old mule track, together with deforestation
have triggered a process of instability, with widespread
and channelled surface erosion, in correspondence of
some side valleys
Fig. 11- The stratigraphic sequence
Fig. 11- Climatic oscillations
The presence of many sedimentary horizons, derived
from the alternation of glacial events, consequent to cold
climatic pulsations, and of alluvial supply horizons,
consequent to warm climatic pulsations, allow the
comprehension of the complex phenomenon of the main
ice retreat and of the lateral tributaries. (Fig. 10-11)
It was a complex, long-lasting phenomenon,
conditioned by many factors; the periodic motions of the
Earth, on a large scale, the exposure, the microclines, the
seasonal variations that interacted with each other.
These observations can help to understand the mutual
relationships of cause and effect and the dynamics of
complexity are fundamental competences in all
scientific disciplines, but particularly in the Earth
The access to the valley of the Chalamy Torrent, due to
the presence of landslide deposits, of unstable rocks,
was, in the past centuries, very limited. Only a mule
track could reach the high mountain pastures.
If, from an economic point of view, it was a limiting
factor, which prevented the development of tourism,
skiing, or craft and industrial activities, from an
environmental and naturalistic point of view, the valley
was able to preserve its complete integrity: uncinate pine
woods, bogs rich in carnivorous plants, herds of ibex and
These are unspoiled landscapes of great beauty, of great
scientific value, which have led to the establishment of
the Mont Avic Regional Natural Park in the 1980s.
The mining site is located in the municipality of
Champdepraz, on the right bank of the lower Aosta
Valley at 1600-1700 m.
Fig. 12 - The abandoned buildings of Hérin mine
From the geological point of view, the area can be
framed in the context of the Zermatt-Saas s.s. unit, part
of the lower and eclogitic portion of the Piemontese
Ophiolite Zone (Dal Piaz et al, 2010).
The mine of Hérin appears in the form of lenticular
bodies of sulphides and minor oxides, from massive to
disseminated. It is a typical deposit of calcschists with
ophiolites: within the materials of the series, prasinites,
chlorites and serpentines, there are stratified or
disseminated mineralization, often matching with
intense plastic deformations with consequent shortening
and enlargement of the lenses. (2)
The particular mineralogical composition depends on a
profound premetamorphic alteration of the original
material (hydrothermal manifestations in an expanding
oceanic environment). It is precisely in these lithotypes
and in the associated quartzite schistes with garnet ±
carbonate that the pyrite cupriferous mineralization
(impregnations, flattened lenticular masses, structurally)
In general, the fundamental minerals (pyrite,
chalcopyrite) are also associated with molybdenite and
galena. (Fig.12)
The observed lithologies are mainly schist with garnets,
with muscovite or dominant chlorite, with more or less
quartz, carbonate and diffused chloritoid and
The earliest evidence of exploitation of the Herin mine
dates to 1703, although it is not excluded that it was
already known in Roman times, or even pre-Roman
Exploited alternately for more than three hundred years,
the deposit has played a significant role in the past,
contributing largely to the regional production of copper
and pyrite until the closure of the mines, which took
place in 1957. (1)
Various disputes between the families owners and the
wrong choice in mining techniques heavily influenced
the productivity of the mine and foundry from 17th to
19th centuries. Many errors were committed in the
exploitation of the mine: the direction of the excavation
was wrong and inefficient machinery was used.
The Hérin mine represents a remarkable evidence/proof
of industrial archaeology and a potential landscape and
scientific attraction: the abandoned mining structures
are inserted in the landscape offering fascinating views;
the galleries make large geological sections available for
observation and study; the acid drainage of the water
causes the precipitation of spectacular metal deposits in
the underground and the phenomena related to it are of
geo-environmental interest. (3)
The history of the inhabitants had been strongly
influenced by the mine: the men went to work in the
mine and stayed the entire week in the houses located at
1800 m, went down on Sunday to go to church, walking
each time over 1500 meters in altitude. On the contrary,
the women walked the same path to bring them food.
As in many other places, an entire community lived
thanks to the presence of the mine, a weary, demanding
and risky job: inside the mountain the mine developed
on 13 levels, facing steep slopes and dangerous paths.
The material had to be transported downstream by hand,
after a mechanical and chemical reduction. (fig. 13-14)
Fig.13 - Copper mineralization
Fig.14- The “green river”
The Hérin mine is a typical lenticular and stratified
deposit, associated with ophiolites, then in rocks that
bear witness to the oceanic origin of this portion of the
Alps, of the ancient Ligurian Piemontese basin, made
up of gabbro and basalt altered in hydrothermal
environment and subsequently overthrown during the
Alpine orogeny. (1)
It is not easy to understand the geographic and temporal
dimension of the movement that these rocks have
undergone, a transport that has taken them from the
bottom of an ocean, albeit small but with characteristics
of basin in expansion due to the presence of dorsal rocks,
to travel a difference in height not less than 4000 m and
a distance of not less than 1500 km.
It is a complex dynamic, difficult to understand, but
whose study helps students to approach the movements
of global tectonics.
We should not forget that this submarine environment,
with its hot springs rich in sulphur, saw the appearance
of strange organisms, the tubular worms, precursors of
This territory, whose wilderness justified the creation of
a natural park is surprisingly the result of great
During the 1700s, the Napoleonic inspectors were
forced to limit the period of operation of the melting
furnaces, particularly in the presence of sulphides,
because their reduction produced sulphur fumes which
made the air unbearable and damaged the crops of the
inhabitants of the area.
For the two centuries that saw the activity of the mine,
the furnaces required fuel with a high calorific value to
reach the melting temperatures: in the absence of coal
mines, the charcoal was produced using the extensive
forests present in the area.
The resulting deforestation, the disappearance, for long
periods, of the vegetation cover, was the cause of
widespread instability, landslides and avalanches, which
affected the valley floor; a framework of instability that
changed only with the use of blast furnaces and the
subsequent closure of the mines.
Generally, students and visitors appreciate the path
that illustrates the different geo-sites.
Each location had, predictably, a different response:
the more impressive the site was, like the “green river”
in the Hérin mine, or impressive, like the steep slopes
of the fluvial glacial deposit, the more the answer was
But when, with the students, we wanted to deepen the
contents and the relationships acquired, the predictable
and unexpected connections are the ones that left the
most sign.
Overall, the objectives that were given to us:
- to understand the geological value and complexity
of the phenomenon, from the scientific point of
- to recognize the impact that the phenomenon has
had on man and his history, or on the natural
- to identify the numerous relationships of cause, of
complexity that the different contexts contained,
and finally
- to arouse the curiosity and the desire to apportion
themes that at first impact are not always grasped;
the result, overall, it is more than satisfactory.
The examples presented, although simple and in some
cases trivial, can be a useful example to prove how a
geological form, a territory, no matter what the scientific
value and the geological meaning, can be effectively
used as learning objects.
If the public (students, tourists, visitors) succeed through
this "objects" in understanding the cultural, educational,
historical significance of a phenomenon, then the object
has done its job.
The purpose is always to promote and extend the
sensitivity to the Geosciences in the various fields in
order to change the usual image that seems mainly
devoted to the study of the rocks and to have a voice
only during catastrophic events. It wants to promote,
with a renewed involvement, a widespread culture of the
diverse and complex areas of the discipline, climate,
water, security, environmental quality, and living
It wants to seek a different focus on the natural
phenomena, responsible for hazards and thus risk, but
also complexity and natural resources; it wants to
propose the study of the Earth's geological history and
its evolution, with an innovative approach that
remembers us how the events that have affected the past
are the elements that allow us to understand the future.
(4) The numerous catastrophic events which affected the
country in recent years show that this sensitivity, as
citizens, as users of the natural resource, such as local
technical competent in planning, monitoring, safety
measures, prevention, demonstrate that such a culture
needs to be formed from the base, starting from primary
schools, involving all levels of educations, students and
teachers, and then families.
We need to pay more attention to the spread of culture
and information, changing the common perception of
catastrophic phenomena that are instead natural, even if
subject to periodic accelerations and not physiological
concentrations due to human actions, such as a not
always prudent urbanization and planning territorial, or
global, such as global warming.
The development of these themes can be a valid support
to construct an epistemological model of the Earth
Science, that gives strength and consistency to the
geological culture, absolutely necessary to enhance a
widespread and deep-rooted culture of geo-sites and to
a perception of them as examples of the dynamics of
the Earth.
(1)- CASTELLO P. (1995) - Inventario dei Minerali e
delle Mineralizzazioni del Parco Naturale del Mont-
Avic. Monografia, ed. Parco regionale del Monte Avic,
MONOPOLI B., SCHIAVO A. (2010) - Carta
Geologica D’Italia Alla Scala 1:50.000, Foglio 091
(3) - FANTONE I.- GRIECO G. (2013) La miniera di
Herin : uno spaccato storico e geologico nel paesaggio
valdostano. Ph Research
(4) -OCCHIPINTI. S2014 - Models and guidelines
for more effective tools and paths in an active teaching-
learning in Earth Sciences: looking for a unifying
principle- PhD research
1a- A fold in Lower Jurassic limestone layers of the
Doldenhorn nappe, Switzerland (Wikimedia.
1b - A model of fold, made with cocoa, white and
yellow flour and sandRegional scientific
laboratory (S. Occhipinti)
2a- A deep alluvial Ouadi- Namibia (S. Occhipinti)
2b- A model of water erosion- Regional scientific
laboratory (S. Occhipinti)
3- Gerome Lalande and his snuffbox
4- The vibrating plate (S. Occhipinti)
5- The area of the landslide (RAVA cartography.)
6- The body of the landslide (S. Occhipinti)
7- The canyon and the ancient road (S. Occhipinti)
8- The Chalamy Valley (S. Occhipinti)
9- Impressive cyclopean blocks (S. Occhipinti)
10- The stratigraphic sequence (S. Occhipinti)
11- Climatic oscillations (wikimedia. commons),
12- The abandoned buildings of Hérin mine (S.
13- Copper mineralization (S. Occhipinti)
14 - The “green river” (S. Occhipinti)
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Extensive geographic areas of the world show a long-term atmospheric moisture deficit. Desertification of Rajasthan is concurrent with the strengthened weather extremality and mean annual air temperature (MAAT) rise over the western part of the Indian subcontinent. The present landscape aridification due to the precipitation decrease and reinforced windiness generates surface-cover dryness, aeolian erosion with a mass sediment transfer, salinity of excessively irrigated lands and groundwater depletion; altogether these pose major geo-environmental threats and settlement risks of the expanding Thar Desert. Livestock-overgrazing of sparse-vegetation contributes to ecological pressure to the fragile wasteland ecosystems with approximately three-quarters of the countryside affected to a certain extent by degradation and >50% exposed to wind erosion. Sand dune stabilisation by the drought-adapted tree plantation, the regional hydrology network regulation and the arid-land farming based on new xerophytic cultigens are the key land-use and mitigation strategies. Specific geomorphic palaeosettings predetermined patterned adaptive forms of the ancient desert inhabitation. Geo- and eco-tourism contributes to the arid-zone socioeconomic sustainability with regard to the rich natural and cultural heritage of the area. This study outlines the main effects of the current climate variations on the pristine and occupied lands of western Rajasthan, and the past and present relief transformations, and reviews the modern anthropogenic responses to desertification.
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Fin dall’ epoca dei suoi insediamenti preromani, il territorio valdostano è stato interessato da attività estrattive di minerali metallici e industriali che ne hanno trasformato profondamente la geografia in senso lato. In Valle d’Aosta sono oggi presenti decine di siti minerari dismessi o abbandonati, che racchiudono un patrimonio sociale, storico e scientifico considerevole. Alcune amministrazioni territoriali promuovono la caratterizzazione, il recupero e la valorizzazione delle aree minerarie dismesse, con riferimento alla legge regionale 12/2008. La miniera di Hérin, pur non rientrando ancora in un progetto di riqualificazione, rappresenta una notevole testimonianza di archeologia industriale e una potenziale attrattiva paesaggistica e scientifica: le strutture minerarie dismesse si inseriscono nel panorama offrendo scorci affascinanti; le gallerie rendono disponibili all’osservazione e allo studio ampie sezioni geologiche; il drenaggio acido dell’acqua provoca la precipitazione di incrostazioni metallifere spettacolari negli ambienti sotterranei ed i fenomeni ad esso correlati sono oggetto di interesse geo-ambientale. Il sito minerario (1600-1700 m s.l.m.) si trova nel territorio del Comune di Champdepraz, sulla destra idrografica della bassa Valle d’Aosta. Dal punto di vista geologico, l’area è inquadrabile nel contesto dell’unità Zermatt-Saas s.s., parte della porzione inferiore ed eclogitica della Zona Ofiolitica Piemontese (Dal Piaz et al, 2010). Il giacimento di Hérin si presenta sotto forma di corpi lenticolari di solfuri e minori ossidi, da massivi a disseminati. Le litologie incassanti osservate sono prevalentemente scisti granatiferi, a mica chiara o clorite dominanti, con più o meno quarzo, carbonato e diffusi cloritoide e glaucofane. In letteratura sono state annoverate tra i litotipi incassanti anche glaucofaniti, anfiboliti e prasiniti (Virgilio, 1879; Piepoli, 1937; Dal Piaz e Omenetto, 1978; Bottino et al., 1975; Castello, 1995; Fantone, 2012). Per la sua collocazione geologica, il deposito è stato assimilato alle mineralizzazioni a pirite e minerali cupriferi associate a metamorfiti ofiolitiche del complesso mesozoico dei calcescisti con pietre verdi (De benedetti, 1965; Dal Piaz et al., 2010). Le prime testimonianze di coltivazione del giacimento di Herin risalgono al 1703, benché non sia escluso che esso fosse noto già in epoca romana, o addirittura preromana (Virgilio, 1879). Sfruttato a fasi alterne per più di trecento anni, il deposito ha rivestito in passato un ruolo rilevante, contribuendo in gran parte alla produzione regionale di rame e di pirite fino alla chiusura degli impianti, avvenuta nel 1957 (Baretti, 1877; Squarzina, 1960; Binel, 1993; Ciardullo, 1994). Tra il 2010 e il 2012 è stato condotto uno studio su questo sito minerario, con il triplice obiettivo di: - Documentare lo stato attuale della struttura mineraria - Ricostruire l’evoluzione della coltivazione del deposto - Indagare i processi di formazione del giacimento. Una ricerca bibliografica preliminare ha consentito di delineare la storia dello sfruttamento minerario e di individuare alcuni punti di riferimento per l’esplorazione degli ambienti sotterranei. E’ stata quindi eseguita una serie di ricognizioni nelle parti accessibili del complesso minerario, con raccolta di campioni e di materiale fotografico. Successivamente, si è proceduto al rilevamento di dettaglio di una galleria, utilizzando strumenti per il rilevamento topografico in grotta. L’insieme del materiale raccolto è stato confrontato con le informazioni ricavate dalla bibliografia storica, allo scopo di individuare le evidenze in situ delle fasi di coltivazione del giacimento. Per lo studio della minerogenesi, sono stati impiegati metodi di microscopia ottica a luce riflessa sulla paragenesi metallica e a luce trasmessa sulle litologie incassanti, integrandoli con analisi chimiche eseguite mediante microsonda elettronica. Particolare rilevanza è stata attribuita alla geochimica degli elementi in traccia e, in particolare, alla distribuzione di Co, Ni e As nella pirite. La formazione primaria della mineralizzazione è inquadrabile in un contesto vulcanogenico di litosfera oceanica soggetta a processi idrotermali. Lo studio è stato focalizzato sulla relazione esistente tra le tessiture e la distribuzione degli elementi in traccia nella pirite. E’ stata individuata una serie di eventi di dissoluzione e ri-precipitazione che, durante il percorso metamorfico di retrocessione, ha determinato l’attuale assetto morfologico e geochimico del giacimento (Fantone 2012). L'insieme delle informazioni e dei dati raccolti ha permesso di mettere in luce una fitta interconnessione tra gli aspetti giacimentologici, gli elementi strutturali e paesaggistici e la storia di un’attività che ha condizionato la configurazione sociale, economica e ambientale del vallone di Champdepraz. RIFERIMENTI BIBLIOGRAFICI BARETTI M. (1877) - Studi geologici sul gruppo del Gran Paradiso. Atti R. Acc. Lincei, CCLXXIV, serie III, Mem-Classe Sc. Fis. Mat. Nat., pp.195-313. BINEL C. (1993) - Appunti per una Storia della Miniera di Rame di Hérin (Champdepraz, Valle d'Aosta). In Piemonte Minerario: minerali, storia, ambiente del territorio piemontese e valdostano, ed. a cura del Comune di Torino e del Politecnico di Torino, 127-140. BOTTINO G, MASTRANGELO F., NATALE P., ZUCCHETTI S. (a cura di) (1975) - Alpi Occidentali (Piemonte, Valle d'Aosta). In Memoria illustrativa della carta mineraria d'Italia scala 1:1.000.000. Mem. per servire alla carta geol. d'Italia, vol 14. Servizio geologico d'Italia, pp. 2-37. CASTELLO P. (1995) - Inventario dei Minerali e delle Mineralizzazioni del Parco Naturale del Mont-Avic. Monografia, ed. Parco regionale del Monte avic, 40 pp. CIARDULLO G. (1994) - Champdepraz, La sua Valle e la Sua Gente. Musumeci Ed., 294 pp. DAL PIAZ G.V., PENNACCHIONI G., TARTAROTTI P., CARRARO F., GIANOTTI F., MONOPOLI B., SCHIAVO A. (2010) - Carta Geologica D’Italia Alla Scala 1:50.000, Foglio 091 Chatillon. ISPRA, 2010. DAL PIAZ G.V., OMENETTO P. (1978) - Brevi note su alcune mineralizzazioni della falda piemontese in Valle d’Aosta. Ofioliti, 3 161-176. DE BENEDETTI A. (1968) - Il complesso radiolariti-giacimenti di manganese-giacimenti piritoso-cupriferi- rocce a fuchsite, come rappresentante del malm nella Formazione dei Calcescisti. Boll. Soc. Geol. It. 84:131-163. FANTONE I. (2012) - Studio Giacimentologico della miniera di Herin, Champdepraz, Valle d’Aosta. Tesi di laurea n.p. Università degli Studi di Milano. PIEPOLI P. (1937) Osservazioni sul giacimento piritoso-cuprifero di Champdepraz in Valle d’Aosta. Rend. R. Acc. Naz. Lincei; 25:652-655. SQUARZINA F. (1960) Notizie sull’industria mineraria del Piemonte. L’Industria Mineraria, 47pp. VIRGILIO E. (1879) Cenno geognostico-mineralogico sulla miniera cuprifera di Champ de Praz in Valle d’Aosta. Diss. Laurea Sc. Nat. Torino: 22 pp.
Models and guidelines for more effective tools and paths in an active teaching-learning in earth sciences: looking for a unifying principle
  • S Occhipinti
Ph Research (4) -OCCHIPINTI. S -2014 -Models and guidelines for more effective tools and paths in an active teachinglearning in Earth Sciences: looking for a unifying principle-PhD research LIST OF THE PICTURES 1a-A fold in Lower Jurassic limestone layers of the Doldenhorn nappe
  • Fantone I.-Grieco G La
  • Di Herin
-FANTONE I.-GRIECO G. (2013) La miniera di Herin : uno spaccato storico e geologico nel paesaggio valdostano. Ph Research (4) -OCCHIPINTI. S -2014 -Models and guidelines for more effective tools and paths in an active teachinglearning in Earth Sciences: looking for a unifying principle-PhD research LIST OF THE PICTURES 1a-A fold in Lower Jurassic limestone layers of the Doldenhorn nappe, Switzerland (Wikimedia. Commons), 1b -A model of fold, made with cocoa, white and yellow flour and sand-Regional scientific laboratory (S. Occhipinti) 2a-A deep alluvial Ouadi-Namibia (S. Occhipinti) 2b-A model of water erosion-Regional scientific laboratory (S. Occhipinti)