EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Geodiversity through time: Changing badland landscapes due to anthropogenic and climatic forcing in the Northern Apennines (Italy)

Mauro Soldati, Carlotta Parenti, and Paola Coratza
Mauro Soldati et al.
  • Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy (

Soil erosion is one of the most significant land degradation processes worldwide, and has produced diverse geomorphological effects in different environments according to anthropogenetic and climatic forcing. In times of global change, it is of remarkable interest to trace these changes also in terms of landscape geodiversity through time.

This is the case of the badland landscapes that characterize relatively large sectors of the Northern Apennines (Italy) where clayey and marly terrains outcrop. Erosion rates have locally been very high, which caused widespread badland landform development, also accompanied by hazardous processes, such as the retrogression of badland scarps and rapid soil depletion.

This study aimed at understanding the evolution of badlands in selected areas of the Province of Modena (Emilia Apennines) through landform inventory, morphometric analysis and statistical assessment of influencing factors (e.g., slope aspect, climate conditions, land use), accompanied by detailed field surveys aiming at detailed mapping the areas presently affected by badlands. Several sets of aerial photos and satellite images were selected in order to perform multitemporal geomorphological analysis, define the evolution of badlands through time and assess multitemporal geodiversity by monitoring key environmental elements. The morphometric analysis of badlands was performed with the aim of understanding the causes of their development since the 1950s in relation to anthropogenic activities and meteoclimatic trends. The research showed a progressive reduction of active badlands and stabilization of gully features, leading to a substantial diversity of geomorphological landscapes of wide sectors of the investigated area.

This study underlines that the investigation of landscape changes can provide useful elements for the assessment of geodiversity not only in space but also through time. This approach made it possible to outline changes in geodiversity at different period of time and thus gain information on dynamic geodiversity, which is worth to be considered in land management.

How to cite: Soldati, M., Parenti, C., and Coratza, P.: Geodiversity through time: Changing badland landscapes due to anthropogenic and climatic forcing in the Northern Apennines (Italy), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19319,, 2020


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