Radar, sensors and geophysical prospecting against the risk of chasms in the city

10/09/2021 – A set of advanced technologies – radar, innovative sensors, geophysical prospecting – able to analyze the subsoil of road infrastructures and public parks and to discover any cavities up to 3-4 meters below the road level, to prevent the danger of chasms, landslides and landslides that jeopardize the safety of citizens and the territory.

It is the goal of the MUSE project (Multi-sensor Services), conducted by ENEA in collaboration with INGV, Consorzio Hypatia, the companies Superlectric, Ylichron, G-Matics, which specifically pursues the creation of a analysis of urban areas and their geomorphological anomalies, through surveys with satellites, drones or aircraft and the use of the most modern geophysical techniques for the investigation of the first subsoil such as, for example, multifrequency georadar and capacitive geoelectrics.

“Thanks to these technologies we are able to perform a sort of ‘ultrasound’ of the subsoil which allows us to study it with different levels of detail to detect the possible presence of voids of different origin and subsidence of the soil due to the emergence of underground cavities, the so-called ‘collapse chimneys’, precursors of the formation of real chasms on the surface. The technologies used, also supported by the analysis of satellite data, range from instrumental insights in situ to integrated indirect investigations ”, explain Vittorio Rosato and Stefano Urbini, coordinators for ENEA and INGV of the project activities.

“The formation of chasms, often linked to electrical and electromagnetic anomalies of the subsoil, is one of the new risks for our cities, also due to the intense urban developments that characterized many urban centers in the last century ”, underlines Vittorio Rosato, head of the Laboratory for analysis and protection of critical infrastructures at ENEA. “Rome, for example, is an emblematic case of a complex underground structure that requires investigations and monitoring of the territory to verify the possible presence of geophysical anomalies attributable to the emergence of anthropogenic cavities”.

At the request of the Civil Protection of Roma Capitale, with which a multi-year collaboration is in place, the project activities are focusing on the analysis of the urban subsoil for prevent the formation of new ones sinkhole anthropogenici caused by the emergence of ancient cavities present in the subsoil (pozzolana quarries, tuffs, sand, catacombs and hypogea, etc.) or as a result of breakdowns and breakages of the underground services (sewer and water network).

“The Civil Protection of Roma Capitale is constantly engaged in monitoring the subsoil of the city through direct exploratory investigations in underground cavities and, in particular, in the areas where the propensity to sink the soil is already known due to geological and archaeological characteristics, such as the areas of the V Municipality.

The technical support of public and private research is extremely useful as it allows the Capitoline Administration to acquire quality technological standards with which to carry out activities of prediction and prevention of these phenomena that arouse strong concerns among citizens and whose identification can be complex because, often, it is not accompanied by obvious precursor phenomena “, underlines Gianluca Ferri, geologist and head of the Geological and Geomorphological Risk Office of the Security and Civil Protection Department of Rome Capital .

The MUSE project is one of the 7 projects of the call LAreospaZIO which aims to increase the opportunities for technological development of companies in the aerospace sector through new connections with universities and public and private research centers, with relevant scientific and technological skills also at an international level. LAreospaZIO is led by ENEA in the role of Mandatory Research Organism, brings together 15 partners and is funded by the Lazio Region in the context of the “Strategic Projects” call for 2019.

Source: ENEA press office

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