EGU21-9054, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The geosite of Pertosa-Auletta cave: an educational journey into the underworld

Rosangela Addesso1,2, Simona Cafaro2, Filomena Papaleo2, Rosanna Alaggio2,3, Francescantonio D'Orilia2, and Mariana Amato2,4
Rosangela Addesso et al.
  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biology "Adolfo Zambelli", University of Salerno, Italy (
  • 2MIdA Foundation, Integrated Environmental Museum, Pertosa (SA) Italy
  • 3Department of Human, Historical and Social Sciences (SUSS), University of Molise, Campobasso, Italy
  • 4School of Agricultural, Forestry, Food and Environmental Sciences, Basilicata University, Potenza, Italy

The Pertosa-Auletta cave is a complex karst system of southern Italy included in the “Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni” UNESCO Global Geopark as a focal geosite for the important geological heritage, the experience in geoturism management and the cultural, didactic and recreational appeal. Representing one of the most important perennial springs of the Alburni massif, since the early 1900s, this cave has played a key role within the territory of the Alburni, Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, so the complex welcomes thousands of visitors from all over the world every year. The site is managed by the MIdA Foundation (Integrated Environmental Museum) with the goal of education on environmental and landscape value of the caves. Geological peculiarities, historical-cultural characteristics, as well as environmental protection of the geosite are the main subjects of MIdA actions targeted to the local community and geotouristis. Thanks to the cooperation with several national and international research institutes, the Foundation contributes to the production of new knowledge and to the dissemination of results through its organization. In addition to the cave, the MidA system includes two Museums: the Speleo-Archaeological Museum and the Soil Museums, where visitors are led on a journey into the underworld. Tours and practical activities focus on multidisciplinary information about carsism, genesis of the Pertosa-Auletta cave, archeological findings in the site. A special effort is devoted to soils, precious sources of underground treasures, and ecosystem processes regulating life on the planet. The tour starts from the rocks and their properties and continues through habitats for the growth of numerous lifeforms linked to their structure and chemical composition. The complex relationshis of below-ground environments with water and other earth features are presented. The Pertosa-Auletta cave offers a good example of how people can understand the importance of a complex karst system. Inside the cave the Negro, an underground river flows and it plays an important role in the karst complex. Water and sediments of the Negro have preserved an archeological settlement on piles dating back to the Bronze Age. The presence of piles inside a cave represents one of the most characteristic features of this karst complex and is an example of different uses of the cave through the ages. During the Bronze Age, the Pertosa-Auletta cave was used for both a cultural and a living purpose. In Classical and Medieval times, the complex became a shrine, dedicated first to pagan gods related to fertility and then to the Archangel Michael. Findings are shown in the MIdA Speleo-Archeological Museum along with multimedia displays and reconstructions of the Prehistoric pile. The Pertosa-Auletta cave is also a research site on karst phenomena, hydrology and speleo-biology with important findings on vermiculations, where the evidence of microbial activity supports the possible involvement of biogenic processes in vermiculation development in karst caves. 

How to cite: Addesso, R., Cafaro, S., Papaleo, F., Alaggio, R., D'Orilia, F., and Amato, M.: The geosite of Pertosa-Auletta cave: an educational journey into the underworld, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9054,, 2021.


Display link