10th International Conference on Geomorphology
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Sustainable metropolis development: a challenge for urban geomorphology research

Laura Melelli1, Pierluigi Brandolini2, Maurizio Del Monte3, Alessia Pica3, and Emmanuel Reynard4
Laura Melelli et al.
  • 1Department of Physics and Geology, University of Perugia, via A.- Pascoli s.n.c. – 06123 Perugia (Italy) laura.melelli@unipg.it
  • 2Department of Earth, Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Genova, Genova, (Italy)
  • 3Earth Science Department, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome (Italy)
  • 4Institute of Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne, Lausanne (Switzerland)

The scientific literature on urban geomorphology focuses on city case studies with a centuries-old historical settlement and analyze mainly the downtown areas.

In this framework, the well-known multitemporal and multidisciplinary research procedures, including ancient maps and documents, are widely available for the recognition of the original morphological arrangement and for identifying the spatial and temporal changes to the landscape due to the human presence.

This approach has inevitably centered the research on case studies which, for the most part, are on the European territory. The main European cities in fact arose many centuries ago when the choice of the site was conditioned also, and above all, by morphological and more generally geological conditions (availability of underground water resources, proximity to rivers, lakes and seas, mineral resources, etc.).

The current trend towards urbanization (it is expected that in 2030 more than 60% of the world population will live in urban areas) affects Africa and Asia in particular, with a city model greatly different from what we are used to conceiving in the "old continent". These metropolises or in some cases megalopolises, are a little known but very interesting school field to understand the differences in terms of hazard and resources for such large areas.

In the same time the European cities are growing too, with evident problems in contrast to the idea of a sustainable development. Even if the social and economic differences between European cities and the African and Asian ones are well evident, comparing these urban models for the geomorphological investigation could reveal interesting food for thought.

Our opened questions are: in a holistic model of sustainable urban development what can be the role of geomorphology for large cities? Does it make sense talking about transformations of natural morphology in areas where urbanization has reached such a high level of impact, does it represent a lesson to be learned? Above all, can research on urban geomorphology be a useful approach for a sustainable model of urbanization?

This contribution proposes a guideline for the study of urban geomorphology in these new metropolises, identifying the differences in terms of boundary conditions, related issues and the role of geomorphology as a parameter for reaching the sustainability.

How to cite: Melelli, L., Brandolini, P., Del Monte, M., Pica, A., and Reynard, E.: Sustainable metropolis development: a challenge for urban geomorphology research, 10th International Conference on Geomorphology, Coimbra, Portugal, 12–16 Sep 2022, ICG2022-510, https://doi.org/10.5194/icg2022-510, 2022.