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Geomorphological mapping as a tool for geoheritage inventory and geotourism promotion: a case study from the middle valley of the Marecchia River (northern Italy)

La cartographie géomorphologique comme outil d'inventaire du géopatrimoine et de promotion du géotourisme : une étude de cas dans la moyenne vallée du fleuve Marecchia (Italie du Nord)
Veronica Guerra et Maurizio Lazzari
p. 127-145

Résumés

L'objectif de cet article est de présenter la carte géomorphologique de la rive droite de la moyenne vallée de la Marecchia (Apenins du Nord) comme base scientifique pour évaluer et mettre en valeur le potentiel géotouristique de cette région du nord de l’Italie. Cette zone a été choisie parce qu'elle est représentative du contexte géologique, géomorphologique et géodynamique qui caractérise l'ensemble du bassin de la Marecchia, où affleure largement un massif allochtone (connu sous le nom de Nappe de Valmarecchia) ; il est constitué de formations liguriennes et épiliguriennes qui chevauchent les unités autochtones ombro-marchesanes, le tout dessinant un paysage particulier caractérisé par une géodiversité élevée et marqué surtout par des reliefs qui se développent dans diverses formations. Afin de cartographier les principales caractéristiques géomorphologiques, des analyses de photographies aériennes diachroniques, des enquêtes de terrain et des recherches bibliographiques, concernant à la fois les valeurs géomorphologiques et culturelles, ont été effectuées. Les formes de relief mises en évidence sur la carte comprennent les terrasses des cours d'eau, les à-pics verticaux, les cônes alluviaux, les badlands et les glissements de terrain. Divers autres points d'intérêt géomorphologique ont été décrits et cartographiés en complément car ils représentent les éléments les plus caractéristiques de la région. La valeur géomorphologique des sites a été combinée aux valeurs additionnelles (écologique, esthétique, culturelle) pour quantifier la valeur de chaque géosite en utilisant une version adaptée de la méthode de Reynard et al. (2016), d'où il ressort que les sites ont des scores élevés à la fois en termes de valeurs scientifiques et additionnelles, ce qui fait de la zone d'étude un territoire idéal pour mettre en œuvre des actions et des propositions de valorisation géotouristique.

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Notes de la rédaction

Manuscript received on June 06, 2020, revised version received on October 30, 2020, definitively accepted on November 03, 2020

Texte intégral

The work is part of a Ph.D. research project in progress at the University of Urbino, for which we thank Prof. Olivia Nesci for her valuable support.

We kindly thank. MiBACT, Emilia-Romagna Region, Marche Region, Rimini SITUA for directly or openly providing useful data; Prof. Ram L. Ray, College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, Prairie View A&M University, Texas (USA) for English revision of the manuscript; Dr. Sabrina Greco, researcher at CNR ISPC, Lecce (Italy) for French revision of the abridged version; Dr. Roberto Ercoli for photographs in Figure 6A and 6E and Dr. Nicola Ianni for the photograph in Figure 6D. Other photographs and pictures in this paper are the authors’ own property.

1. Introduction

1Geological tourism, or geotourism, has become an important topic over the last two decades, being able to integrate the traditional touristic offer and stimulate the production of numerous scientific papers of local, national, and international relevance (Dowling, 2015; Dowling and Newsome, 2006; Farsani et al., 2014; Gray, 2013; Lazzari, 2013; Lazzari and Aloia, 2014; Hose, 2016; Hose and Vasiljević, 2012; Reynard, 2008). However, the concept of geotourism has occurred in relatively recent times as being “geological” rather than “geographical” tourism (Stoffelen and Vanneste, 2015). Geotourism can also be viewed as an approach to tourism, through its geographical orientation, underpinned by its geological nature, thus giving an area its “sense of place” (Dowling, 2015). It finds its concreteness in geological heritage sites (geosites), geoparks, and other geology-related objects for tourism and recreation purposes. Its main aims include promoting geological knowledge, increasing the awareness of geological heritage and its conservation, and the sustainable development needs of the tourism industry, raising social awareness about the importance of geodiversity (Gray, 2013; Dowling, 2014). The latter expresses the variability of Earth’s surface materials, forms, and physical processes, substrates for habitat development and maintenance (Hjort et al., 2015).

2Geoheritage (Brocx and Semeniuk, 2011; Gray, 2013; Wimbledon and Smith-Meyer, 2012; Reynard and Brilha, 2018) is generally referred to single or complex contexts, which include landforms (e.g., Grand Canyon in USA), rocks (e.g., Wave Rock in Australia), soils (e.g., Chamarel Seven-Coloured Earths in Mauritius), minerals (e.g., Cueva de los Cristales in Mexico) and fossils (e.g., Korean Cretaceous Dinosaur Coast, South Korea), and it may include active geological processes, such as glacial (e.g., Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand, Dolomites in northern Italy) and volcanic activity (e.g., Krakatau in Indonesia, Etna in Sicily southern Italy). A contemporary reading and interpretation of geoheritage consider the interconnections among itself and the cultural components of the landscape, which have antecedents in the concepts related to landscape aesthetics in different cultures. These interconnections provide a range of opportunities for enhancing the geotourist experience and promoting geoconservation and geoeducation through activities involving aesthetic and emotional experiences, the interpretation through different cultural filters and human interactions (Gordon, 2018).

3Considering these premises, the present research was undertaken to identify the geotouristic and didactic potential of the right side of the middle Marecchia river (northern Apennines, Italy), represented on a geomorphological map as a tool for geoheritage inventory and promotion. The study area includes the Mazzocco river basin (47 km2) and constitutes a portion of the landscape where spectacular geosites are located. It lies between Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions, with a small tangent along the boundaries of the Republic of San Marino (fig. 1).

Fig. 1 – Study site.
Fig. 1 – Site d’étude.

Fig. 1 – Study site.Fig. 1 – Site d’étude.

A: Localization on a national scale; B: Regional scale; C: Panoramic view of the study area and main place names.
A : Carte de Localisation à petite échelle ; B : Echelle régionale ; C : Vue panoramique de la zone d’étude et des principaux sites.

4In particular, it extends in the municipalities of San Leo, Maiolo, Verucchio, Pennabilli (Province of Rimini, Emilia-Romagna), Monte Grimano Terme, Monte Cerignone and Monte Copiolo (Province of Pesaro-Urbino, Marche); two important protected zones intersect the study area: a Natura 2000 area (SIC-ZPS IT4090003), named Rupi e gessi della Valmarecchia (Valmarecchia peaks and chalks), and the Interregional Park of Sasso Simone and Simoncello (fig. 2).

Fig. 2 – Study area and protected zones.
Fig. 2 – Zone d’étude et zones de protection.

Fig. 2 – Study area and protected zones.Fig. 2 – Zone d’étude et zones de protection.

5This area has been chosen because it represents geological, geomorphological and geodynamic context characterizing the whole Marecchia river valley (so called Valmarecchia in local tongue and previous scientific literature), where massive allochthonous thrust sheets known as Valmarecchia Nappe widely outcrop. They consist of Ligurian and Epiligurian formations that overthrust the Umbro-Marchean autochthonous Units, and draw a peculiar landscape characterized by high geodiversity and marked above all by differential erosional landforms cut into various formations. The main scientific value concerning geosites in this area is the presence of the allochthonous units of the Valmarecchia Nappe, which constitute the foundation on which the development of various landforms occurs, and leads to a high geomorphological value of the geosites. Geodiversity is, in fact, of great value for geotouristic and geoeducational activities (Gray, 2013), and the touristic use of geodiversity generally passes through geosites and geomorphosites (Pralong, 2003; Pralong and Reynard, 2005). In fact, as noted by Panizza (2001) and Panizza and Piacente (2003), geomorphosites are “landforms with particular and significant geomorphological attributions, which qualify them as a component of a territory’s cultural heritage (in a broad sense)”, where importance may be given by scenic, scientific, socioeconomic or cultural features. This definition appears the most suitable in a geotouristic or didactive context (Coratza and Hobléa, 2018). Cultural issues can bring additional values and increase the attractiveness of the sites (Kubalíková and Kirchner, 2016; Lazzari, 2013; Lazzari and Aloia, 2014).

6Under these circumstances, this study aims to highlight the main geodiversity features (e.g., landforms) and improve the geotourism potential of this area, proposing some actions and tools to enhance the geotouristic fruition of the sites. We agree with the concept of geotourism defined as the “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents”, introduced in a 2003 report by the Travel Industry Association of America and National Geographic (Traveler magazine) and successively adopted by Hose (2012). The most important aspect of this definition, which inspired us, is that it adds to sustainability principles a geographical character, the “sense of place” (Hose, 2012), to emphasize the distinctiveness of its place and benefit visitor and resident alike.

7For this purpose, several geologically interesting elements have been mapped to enrich the possible outdoor experiences and establish a connection between the natural heritage and the existing cultural features. The major objective of the present work is to quantitatively assess scientific and additional values to the existing geosites, propose examples of didactive geomorphosites and produce both geomorphological and geotouristic maps, to facilitate the fruition and interpretation of the geosites, of the new features enhanced in the present work and of the associated historical remnants.

2. Geological settings of the study area

8In the study area, and extending towards Tuscan, Romagna and Marchean Apennine area, lies a huge allochthonous body known as Val Marecchia Nappe, that consists of stacked slices of Ligurian and Epiligurian rocks overthrusting Tuscan and Umbro-Marchean Units (Conti, 1990, 1995, 2016; De Feyter, 1991; Bonciani et al., 2007; D’Errico et al., 2014; De Capoa et al., 2015 and references therein).

9The Valmarecchia Nappe has been widely studied by researchers due to its complexity and interesting geological features (Bonarelli, 1929; Capozzi et al., 1991; Cerrina Feroni et al., 1997; 2002; Conti et al., 1987; Ricci Lucchi, 1986; Selli, 1954; Vai et Castellarin, 1992; Zattin et al., 2002; Carmignani et al., 2004; Carmignani et al., 2013; Cornamusini et al., 2012).

10The Ligurian and Epiligurian formations deposited in different sub-basins have been translated through a structural depression, the “Marecchia line” (Conti, 1990), orthogonally to the main Apennine tectonic features. The Ligurian Units, characterized by argillitic clays, are the main rocks responsible for translating the formations that lie above them, providing a preferential detachment zone to the migration that occurred during the Miocene uplift of the Apennine chain. Cornamusini et al. (2017) proposed a complex mechanism for the emplacement of the Valmarecchia Nappe, which includes a tectonic origin due to the Mt. Nero Thrust and a submarine gravitational sliding development within the foredeep basin.

11The geological map (fig. 3) is derived from the combination and homogenization of Emilia-Romagna and Marche regional geological maps at 1:10,000 scale and CARG Project (Cornamusini et al., 2009). The outcropping formations are summarized as follows:

12(i) Ligurian Units in the study area consist of a basal complex (lower Cretaceous-lower Eocene), mostly pelitic, that includes the Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia (AVR; lower Cretaceous – lower Eocene - chaotic polychromatic clays with intercalated levels of limestone, calcilutites, fine sandstones, siltstones, black clayey marls and marls, AVRa - Arenaceous lithofacies, AVRb - calcareous-arenaceous lithofacies, AVRc - marly lithofacies) and Sillano formation (SIL; upper Cretaceous – lower Eocene - alternation of limestones and mudstones, at times polychrome, especially in the basal part, where they become predominant), and an overlying marly-calcareous turbiditic unit of early-middle Eocene age named Monte Morello formation (MLL; mid-lower Eocene - alternation of limestones and marly limestones, turbidite limestones and marls, MLLa - Casa Nuova or Marne Rosate lithofacies).

13(ii) Formations attributed to the Epiligurian succession (Oligocene-lower Pliocene) occur on top of Ligurian Units. They are present as several depositional sequences interrupted by discontinuities and unconformities that represent the Neogenic tectonic phases, during which the Val Marecchia Nappe was overriding the Tuscan and Umbro-Marchean Units (Conti, 2016). Epiligurian Units in the study area are: Argille di Montebello formation (AMN; lower Serravallian-Tortonian - grey-blue or light grey fossiliferous sandy clays, with rare intercalations of grey calcareous siltstone), Acquaviva formation (AQV; lower Tortonian – Messinian - coarse sandstones with pebbles scattered in irregular layers, generally massive and thick and in laterally discontinuous banks; AQVa - conglomerates lithofacies), Casa I Gessi formation (CGE; lower Messinian - dark gray clays and silty clays, generally at indistinct layering, with rare and thin light gray marly layers and sandy layers), Gessoso-Solfifera formation (GES; upper Messinian - selenitic whitish microcrystalline chalks, with dark grey pelitic interspersed layers, and selenitic grey macro-crystalline gypsum, with intercalated dark grey bitominous pelitic layers), Monte Fumaiolo formation (MFU; upper Burdigalian – Serravallian ungraded hybrid sandstones with medium-thin stratification, concave-convex, at times with cross-bedding megaripples, tapering upwards; MFU1 - Monte Aquilone Member; MFU2 - Vetta Member) and San Marino formation (SMN; upper Burdigalian – lower Langhian - organogenic limestones and calcarenites rich in bioclasts, sometimes silty-sandy and glauconitic, in particular towards the top of the formation; SMN1 - base Member; SMN2 - stratified limestones Member; SMN3 - San Alberico Member).

14(iii) The post-evaporite succession of the Po plain-Adriatic margin consists of the outcropping Argille Azzurre formation (FAA; lower-middle Pliocene), with its sub-units FAA2 (Borello Member), FAA2b (Arenaceous lithofacies), FAA2d (Arenaceous-pelitic lithofacies) and FAAf (Mt. Perticara lithofacies).

15(iv) Quaternary deposits are represented by the alluvial fan and terraced fluvial deposits (braided streams facies) of Villa Verucchio Subsynthem (AES7; upper Pleistocene), Ravenna Subsynthem (AES8; upper Pleistocene - Holocene) and Modena Unit (AES8a; Holocene), in addition to recent and modern deposits of active landslides (a1), relict landslides (a2), slope debris (a3), flood-colluvial deposits (a4) and fluvial conoids (i1).

16Holocene and more recent geomorphological features of the valley are shaped by the different lithologies of the outcropping formations.

Fig. 3 – Geological map.
Fig. 3 – Carte géologique.

Fig. 3 – Geological map.Fig. 3 – Carte géologique.

1. Villa Verucchio Subsynthem (AES7); 2. Ravenna Subsynthem (AES8); 3. Ravenna Subsynthem, Modena Unit (AES8a); 4. Argille di Montebello Formation (AMN); 5. Acquaviva Formation (AQV); 6. Acquaviva Formation, Conglomerates lithofacies (AQVa); 7. Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia Formation (AVR); 8. Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia Formation, Arenaceous lithofacies (AVRa); 9. Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia Formation, Calcareous-arenaceous lithofacies (AVRb); 10. Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia Formation, Marly lithofacies (AVRc); 11. Casa I Gessi Formation (CGE); 12. Argille Azzurre Formation, Borello Member (FAA2); 13. Argille Azzurre Formation, Arenaceous lithofacies (FAA2b); 14. Argille Azzurre Formation, Arenaceous-pelitic lithofacies (FAA2d); 15. Argille Azzurre Formation, Mt. Perticara lithofacies (FAAf); 16. Gessoso-Solfifera Formation (GES); 17. Monte Fumaiolo Formation, Mt. Aquilone Member (MFU1); 18. Monte Fumaiolo Formation, della Vetta Member (MFU2); 19. Monte Morello Formation (MLL); 20. Monte Morello Formation, Casa Nuova or Marne Rosate lithofacies (MLLa); 21. Sillano Formation (SIL); 22. San Marino Formation (SMN); 23. San Marino Formation, base Member (SMN1); 24. San Marino Formation, stratified limestones Member (SMN2); 25. San Marino Formation, San Alberico Member (SMN3); 26. Active landslides (a1); 27. Relict landslides (a2); 28. Slope debris (a3); 29. Flood-colluvial deposits (a4); 30. Fluvial conoids (i1); 31. Study area; 32. Main waterbed; 33. Hydrographic network; 34. Fault line; 35. overthrust (certain); 36. overthrust (uncertain or buried); 37. Surface evidence of anticline axis (certain); 38. Surface evidence of anticline axis (uncertain or buried); 39. Main localities; 40. Natural springs; 41. Peaks.
1. Villa Verucchio Sub-synthème (AES7) ; 2. Ravenna Sub-synthème (AES8) ; 3. Ravenna Sub-synthème, Unité de Modena (AES8a) ;4. Formation des Argiles de Montebello (AMN) ; 5. Formation de Acquaviva (AQV) ; 6. Formation de Acquaviva, lithofaciès à conglomérats (AQVa) ; 7. Formation des Argiles bariolées de Valmarecchia (AVR) ; 8. Formation des Argiles bariolées de Valmarecchia, lithofaciès arénacés (AVRa) ; 9. Formation des Argiles bariolées de Valmarecchia, lithofaciès calcaires-arénacés (AVRb) ; 10. Formation des Argiles bariolées de Valmarecchia, lithofaciès marneux (AVRc) ; 11. Formation de Casa I Gessi (CGE) ; 12. Formation des Argiles bleues, membre Borello (FAA2) ; 13. Formation des Argiles bleues, lithofaciès arénacés (FAA2b) ; 14. Formation des Argiles bleues, lithofaciès arénacés-pélitiques (FAA2d) ; 15. Formation des Argiles bleues, lithofaciès de Mt. Perticara (FAAf) ; 16. Formation Gessoso-Solfifera (GES) ; 17. Formation de Monte Fumaiolo, membre Mt. Aquilone (MFU1) ; 18. Formation de Monte Fumaiolo, membre Della Vetta (MFU2) ; 19. Formation de Monte Morello (MLL) ; 20. Formation de Monte Morello, lithofaciès de Casa Nuova ou Marne Rosate (MLLa) ; 21. Formation de Sillano (SIL) ; 22. Formation de San Marino (SMN) ; 23. Formation San Marino, membre basal (SMN1) ; 24. Formation de San Marino, membre des calcaires stratifiés (SMN2) ; 25. Formation de San Marino, membre San Alberico (SMN3) ; 26. Glissement de terrain actif (a1) ; 27. Glissement de terrain relictuel (a2) ; 28. Débris de pente (a3) ; 29. Dépôts colluviaux de crue (a4) ; 30. Conoïdes fluviaux (i1) ; 31. Zone d'étude ; 32. Lits principaux de rivière ; 33. Réseau hydrographique ; 34. Faille ; 35. Chevauchement, certain ; 36. chevauchement, incertain ou enfoui ; 37. Axe anticlinal, certain ; 38. Axe anticlinal, incertain ou enfoui ; 39. Principales localités ; 40. Sources naturelles ; 41. Sommets.

3. Materials and Methods

17Recently, mapping has gained a high level of attention in geoheritage research (Regolini-Bissig and Reynard, 2010; Fuertes-Gutiérrez and Fernández-Martínez, 2012; Comănescu et al., 2013; Comănescu et al., 2017; Zwoliński et al., 2018; Bouzekraoui et al., 2018). Geomorphological mapping, in particular can represent a useful tool in interpreting the values embedded in the geological landscape in relation to human development through time, thus delivering a full view of the landscape composition and evolution (Knight et al., 2011; Verstappen, 2011; Otto and Smith, 2013). Given these premises, the geomorphological map of the study area has been produced, as the first step of the methodology adopted (fig. 4); field surveys were carried out, supported by a multi-temporal analysis of the available aerial photos and bibliographical research. The geomorphological data collected have been georeferenced using ArcGIS tool and overlapped with the geological map (fig. 3), obtained combining the Emilia-Romagna SGSS (Geological, Seismic and Soil Survey) and Marche region geological cartographies, and the hydrographic network, that has been vectorized after comparing aerial images with IGM Topographic Map of Italy (scale 1:25,000), to compile the geomorphological map of the study area (fig. 5). The DEM used as a base is freely available as a 10 m-cell size grid (in GeoTIFF format), in the UTM WGS 84 zone 32 projection system (Tarquini et al., 2007).

18The mapped landforms include stream terraces and alluvial fans of the Mazzocco river, vertical cliffs and complex landslides along the watershed, badlands and mudflows on argillitic formations, rockfalls on the boundaries of the calcareous reliefs, top erosional palaeosurfaces (S1 to S5). The latter have been mapped in the field, based on topographical criteria (i.e., the maximum average slope of 10°, perimeter cliffs mapping), and verifications of erosive characters and thus exclusion of depositional ones, carried out on the site.

Fig. 4 – Research methodology flow chart.
Fig. 4 - Organigramme de la méthodologie de recherche.

Fig. 4 – Research methodology flow chart.Fig. 4 - Organigramme de la méthodologie de recherche.

19The scientific and additional values of the geosites were analysed through a Geoheritage assessment, a topic that has been largely discussed over the last decades in scientific literature, where a number of qualitative and quantitative methodologies for assessing geomorphosites has been proposed (e.g., Reynard et al., 2016; Mucivuna et al., 2019).

20The geological and geomorphological heritage of the area has been inventoried starting from the already catalogued geosites of the Emilia-Romagna region, implemented with geomorphological didactic points of interest, and with the assessment of the sites’ value, according to an adapted version of Reynard et al. (2016).

21A representative code has been assigned to each geosites, composed of: the first three capital letters referring to the study area (VMM = Middle Valmarecchia), the following three letters relating to the main process or represented geotype (rel = relief, kar =  karst, mmv = mass movements), and finally a progressive number associated to the process.

22The quantitative assessment for the geosites (adapted from Reynard et al., 2007 and 2016) was conducted regarding the following values:

23(i) Scientific Value (SV): assessment of criteria IN (Integrity), RE (representativeness), RA (rareness), PI (paleogeographic interest);

24(ii) Ecological Value (EV): arithmetic mean among criteria EI (Ecological Impact), PS (Protected Site);

25(iii) Aesthetic value (AV): arithmetic mean among criteria VP (Viewpoints) and CVS (Colour contrast, Vertical development, Space structuration);

26(iv) Cultural value (CV): highest score among RI (Religious Importance), HI (Historical Importance), AL (Artistic and Literary Importance), EC (Economic Importance).

27According to the authors' observations, the values were attributed through a score from 0 to 1, and the resulting values have been added up for each geosite to get a quantitative expression of their comprehensive quality. Protection status of the geosites has been defined considering Emilia-Romagna region, SIC-ZPS areas or the Interregional Park of Sasso Simone and Simoncello. Both “on going” and “needed” fields have been ticked in those cases where the geosites reside in a protected area, but more specific protection measurements are suggested. A qualitative evaluation of protection has also been compiled.

28Finally, the natural landforms have then been associated with the anthropic ones and diachronic human settlements and ruins through the geoheritage map, to set a relation among the natural components of the geoheritage of the valley and the cultural ones. It is relevant that many features and objects, even if they are not purely geological, can be interpreted as a part of the geological heritage (Wetzel, 2002; Erikstad, 2013; Gray, 2013; Lubova et al., 2013; Bruno et al., 2014), which is true, especially, when archaeological sites are closely linked to the geological environment (Moroni, 2015). In regards to these aspects, the Vasche rupestri della Valmarecchia (Valmarecchia rupestrian tubs) have been mapped, because they constitute an original example of an interaction between geology and anthropic activities: they consist of tanks or flat surfaces carved on isolated boulders or mountain peaks. The first written testimonies describing rupestrian tubs in Valmarecchia date back to 1957 but their origin is thought to be ancient (until protohistoric), and their usage has probably been discontinuous throughout the centuries (Battistini and Battistini, 2011). They can be cut in different shapes (i.e., open tubs or beds, single tubs, double tubs) and various interpretations have been proposed for their usage (Battistini and Ravara Montebelli, 2011). In the study area, seven examples of rupestrian tubs can be observed, and their position has been reported in the geotouristic map, produced after comparing the geomorphological and additional values of the sites through the quantitative assessment.

4. Results and discussion

29A geomorphological map (fig. 5) and a geotouristic map (fig. 8), represented at a 1:75,000 scale, have been developed to enhance peculiar landforms and processes and provide tools for the geotouristic fruition and the understanding of the Valmarecchia geological and geomorphological features. The regional inventory for the geosites has also been updated with new observations made on the site and by enhancing geomorphological points of interest. Finally, the geosites have been assessed with a quantitative evaluation of the scientific and additional values and a qualitative evaluation of protection and management issues.

4.1. Geomorphological map

30The geomorphological map outlines the main landforms of the study area (fig. 5). This map includes erosional surfaces (five orders), deeply seated gravitational slope deformation (DGPV) areas and trenches, active and inactive landslides (Persi et al., 1993) and detachment crowns, hydrographic network and main riverbeds, abandoned river channel traces, stream terraces, badlands, alluvial fans, and cliffs prone to rockfalls. The geomorphological study carried out in this region of the Marecchia basin allowed us to map the main landforms and to reconstruct some of the morpho-evolutionary phases in the long term (upper Pliocene-Pleistocene), through the analysis of ancient landforms, such as paleosurfaces, that represent non-equilibrium features resulting by surface uplift and subsequent degradation due to erosion (Guerra and Lazzari, 2020).

31Anthropic landforms are also present in the area, such as the quarry sites, active or abandoned; in the mountainous part of the Marecchia river valley, numerous rock excavation sites existed until the recent past, and those activities have been extensively performed throughout history. As concerns the relationship between lithotypes and slope processes, the argillitic deposits of the Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia (AVM) or Sillano (SIL) formations favour the development of the typical linear erosional landforms (badlands), differential erosional slopes, mudflows and debris-flows triggering. On the other hand, the Monte Morello (MLL) formation outcrops are often affected by solifluction, deep-seated gravitational slope deformations and rock-slides (active or relict). Rockfalls and complex landslides characterize the arenaceous lithotypes, limestone and cemented conglomerates, such as the San Marino (SMN) or Acquaviva (AQV) formations, with the development of the main ridges, vertical cliffs and rock pillars. In particular, in the past, rockfalls and topplings have also occurred in the SMN, above all during the last glacial period and more recently (i.e., Little Ice Age, Fagan, 2001). In fact, in the Romagna-Marche area, there have been several cold phases in recent historical times, with a consequent increase in the diffusion and severity of hydrogeological instability phenomena (Guerra and Nesci, 2013).

32As described above, recent landforms could not be separated entirely from the geological history of this sector of the northern Apennines. In fact, the Apennines are a young and tectonically active mountain chain, having been uplifted above sea level primarily within the Pliocene (Ricci Lucchi, 1990). Uplift and the emergence of the Apennines were accompanied by the progressive establishment of a dynamic equilibrium between erosion and deposition rates, also linked to the different climatic phases that have occurred over time (Cyr and Granger, 2008). Therefore, erosive and denudation stages of the uplifted Apennine mountains have developed during ancient stationing of the local base levels of erosion. The morphogenesis of smooth and low-energy palaeotopographies and/or erosional planation surfaces has been modelled in discordance mainly on the Eocene, Miocene terrigenous units and in the Plio-Quaternary clastic deposits. In the Apennines, the planation surface (PS) by Coltorti and Pieruccini (2000) has levelled all the topographic contrasts. It represents a useful marker for deciphering the Plio-Quaternary evolution of the landscape, allowing us to discriminate between pre- and post-planation tectonic activity. Moreover, it represents a key tool in detecting neotectonic movements and assessing seismic hazard in areas where Plio-Quaternary deposits are not preserved.

33The presence of small valleys, large and flared, with hanging riverbeds and, more generally, of a sweet landscape with a weak gradient, currently represented by relict and suspended surfaces at different heights, testifies continental morphogenesis, superimposed on the previous one, and responsible for the obliteration of the older morphological evolution traces. The wider remnants are distributed mainly along the watersheds, whereas minor fragments are observable inside the catchment areas (fig. 5). These surfaces, suspended with respect to the current valley floor, have been grouped into five orders regarding their altimetric distribution a.s.l. (fig. 5); they are characterized by a surface area that varies from 900 to 87,000 m2, slopes not exceeding 10° and low energy of relief. These morphological features can be interpreted as flattened surfaces, re-modelled during erosion cycles, whose plano-altimetric distribution of other generations of relict surfaces (between 240 and 1,085 m a.s.l.), is to be correlated to different local base levels.

34The higher surfaces are relicts of larger erosional surfaces of regional extension (S1), while those located at lower altitudes present characteristics that seem to indicate a modelling more similar to the conditions produced by the current hydrographic network. In many cases, where the erosion processes were highly intense and accelerated, the original paleosurface S1 has been reduced to thin ridges or isolated flat peaks (see Mt. della Croce, Mt. San Marco and Mt. Montone in Figure 5). In the study area, five orders of palaeosurfaces (S1 to S5) have been distinguished, based on their average height a.s.l. Quaternary tectonics has strongly influenced the hydrographic network, as it has controlled the orientation and distribution of some channels of the hydrographic network, qualitatively highlighted by some anomalies of the hydrographic network (straight development, river elbows, high confluences angle, capture phenomena and convergence of river streams, counter-current tributary branches). Fluvial morphologies in the Marecchia and Mazzocco river valleys are characterized by braided channels, according to hydraulic parameters related to the riverbed slopes (Pizzuto, 2011). The hydrographic network has an order of 5 (Strahler, 1957) and has a drainage density value of 3.66 (Avena et al., 1967; Ciccacci et al., 1980), compatible with a prevalent clayey-marly substrate on the entire basin.

Fig. 5 – Geomorphological map.
Fig. 5 - Carte géomorphologique.

Fig. 5 – Geomorphological map.Fig. 5 - Carte géomorphologique.

1 to 5. Palaeosurfaces classification (1 = S1; 2 = S2; 3 = S3; 4 = S4; 5 = S5); 6. Deeply-seated gravitational slope deformation (DGPV); 7. Active mudslide or debris flow (red arrow in the major ones); 8. Relict mudslide or debris flow; 9. Active complex landslide; 10. Relict complex landslide; 11. Active rock-fall; 12. Relict rock-fall; 13. Active rotational slide; 14. Relict rotational slide; 15. Main riverbeds; 16. Fluvial terraces; 17. Badlands; 18. Study area; 19. Alluvial fan; 20. Hydrographic network; 21. Abandoned river channel traces; 22. Cliff prone to rock-falls and topplings; 23. Landslide crowns; 24. DGPV trench; 25. Active quarry; 26. Inactive quarry; 27. Main locality; 28. Natural springs; 29. Peaks.
1 à 5 : Classification des paléosurfaces (1 = S1 ; 2 = S2 ; 3 = S3 ; 4 = S4 ; 5 = S5 ; 6. Déformation gravitationnelle profonde de la pente (DGPV) ; 7. Coulée de boue ou de débris active ; 8. Coulée de boue ou de débris héritée ; 9. Glissement de terrain complexe actif ; 10. Glissement de terrain complexe hérité ou dormant ; 11. Chute de blocs active ; 12. Chute de blocs héritée ; 13. Glissement rotationnel actif ; 14. Glissement rotationnel hérité ou dormant ; 15. Lits de rivière principaux ; 16. Terrasses fluviales ; 17. Badlands ; 18. Zone d'étude ; 19. Cône alluvial ; 20. Réseau hydrographique ; 21. Traces de chenaux de rivière abandonnés ; 22. Falaise sujette aux éboulements et aux écroulements ; 23. Cicatrices d'éboulement ; 24. Tranchée de DGPV ; 25. Carrière active ; 26. Carrière inactive ; 27. Principales localités ; 28. Sources naturelles ; 29. Pics.

4.2. Geosite inventory

35The geosite inventory was partly based on already existing ones, established by Emilia-Romagna and formally instituted at a regional scale with the Regional Law No 9/2006. The municipalities where the geosites are located (San Leo, Maiolo and Pennabilli) (tab. 1) were integrated in the province of Rimini (and thus in Emilia-Romagna region) from Marche region in 2006 through a referendum, with actual accomplishment in 2009. Before that date, the geosites had already been defined and spatially delimited to a comparable extent by Marche regional authorities, inside the Piano Paesistico Ambientale Regionale (Regional Environmental Landscape Plan) as areas characterized by geological and geomorphological important features (B.U.R.M. No 120, 24/9/1990). Both sources enhance the geomorphological component as a key value to most of the geosites, and the geotouristic fruition has the potential to be strictly related to geomorphological features. In addition, the study area was popularized by Emilia-Romagna region through a geothematic map, named “Geo-environmental itinerary in the Marecchia Valley - discovering Valmarecchia, geodiversity and a unique geological landscape in Romagna”, presented in 2015 and freely available at the source https://ambiente.regione.emilia-romagna.it/​it/​geologia/​geologia/​geositi-paesaggio-geologico/​itinerari/​Itinerari-valle-Marecchia /.

Table 1 - General data of the geosite inventory.
Tableau 1 - Données générales de l'inventaire des géosites.

Table 1 - General data of the geosite inventory.Tableau 1 - Données générales de l'inventaire des géosites.

4.2.1. Description of geosites

36(i) Tausani cliff (VMMrel002) (fig. 6A, 7B) - Massive ridge that extends from the right bank of the Marecchia river to San Leo cliff, through the peaks of Mt. Fotogno, Mt. Gregorio, Mt. Tausano and Mt. San Severino. This spectacular ridge represents Valmarecchia landscape, where erosive contrast within Argille Varicolori clays and limestones originate isolated reliefs, with vertical slopes and surrounding badlands. San Marino, Mt. Fumaiolo and Acquaviva formations are outcropping; the transition from San Marino to Mt. Fumaiolo formation represents the ending of sedimentary carbonate contribution and an increase in terrigenous intake. The Tausani ridge path is one of the most impressive trails in the study area, and offers a spectacular view of both the Mazzocco and the Marecchia river valleys. The geosite comprehends three rupestrian tubs, even if at least another has been recently discovered and not yet investigated. The mapped rupestrian tubs are Masso del Tino (fig. 6C), on the trail leading to the top of Mt. Fotogno, Mt. Fotogno tub and Tausano tub. Masso del Tino (meaning Vat boulder) is particularly interesting evidence because two separate tubs have been carved in the same boulder. One of them is nowadays standing in a vertical position, suggesting that the block was involved in a rock-fall that transported it from its previous location to the current one. Subsequentially to the rockfall, another tub has been carved on the top of the same boulder. Another tub has been recently found at the top of Mt. Fotogno (January 2020), which lies broken in half, most likely fallen from the cliff. The Tausano tub is located on the ridge path, rectangular in shape. A geomorphological point of interest related to this geosite is the Tausano landslide (fig. 7E), a large mass movement occurred in 1822 and reactivated multiple times in the following two centuries. This complex mechanism, that includes rockfalls, topplings and mudflows, endangered Tausano and other villages, modifying the morphology at different times, as evidenced by local historical records (Guerra and Nesci, 2013). Access to the site is easy.

37(ii) Pietracuta Peak (VMMrel001) (fig. 7D) - Relief with a pyramidal shape that can be distinguished from afar, formed by sandstones of the the Acquaviva formation (Tortonian), which rises from the bottom of the Marecchia valley in stratigraphic discordance on the underlying San Marino formation. The base of this succession rests on the Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia formation. This cliff is a significant example of the Marecchia valley landscape, where the contrasts of erodibility between the clayey Ligurian units and the more competent epiligurian units above give rise to isolated reliefs often bordered by subvertical slopes. These cliffs rise with considerable energy on the surrounding slopes, presenting weak acclivity, gullies and landslides. The Acquaviva formation consists mainly of coarse sandstones, with scattered pebbles, in irregular layers, generally massive and thick and in banks, laterally discontinuous. Subordinate are the conglomerate levels generally lenticular; where they assume a relevant power, as at the base of the formation, they have been mapped as the conglomerate lithofacies. Sandstones are yellowish-grey, sometimes with sedimentary structures, such as cross-laminated and plane-parallel lamination, and fluid leakage structures. They are also generally rather bioturbated and have abundant fossil remains, both in the form of fragments scattered in the sandstones or as levels consisting exclusively of shell fragments of molluscs (Ricci Lucchi, 1964). Carbon whips are also widespread, more frequently in the basal part of the formation in which lignite deposits have been exploited in the past (Ruggieri, 1954). The sedimentary structures recognized in the formation indicate the proximal marine environment, particularly deltium-marine apparatuses (Conti, 1990). On the top of the cliff, on the edge of the rocky outcrop (known in ancient times as Pietra Aguzza or Pietraguidola), stood the Castle of Pietracuta, dating back to the tenth century, of which some architectural evidence and the ruins of the fortification remain. The function of this fortification was to sight the entire stretch of the lower Marecchia valley. The castle was destroyed in later centuries and has suffered from abandonment; in the 1950s, part of the cliff was collapsed. The cliff’s stability was further aggravated by quarry activities on the eastern hillside, whose signs are still observable even if partially covered by vegetation. On this day, the access to the few remnants of the fortress is prohibitive and there are not any proper trails that lead to the top of the peak. On the other hand, access to the western portion of the geosite (Case Monte) is really easy, and represents one of the classified paleosurfaces (S5).

38(iii) Legnagnone chalks (VMMkar001) (fig. 6E) - Pseudokarst features (caves, sinkholes, micro-karren) characterize the Messinian Epiligurian evaporites of the Gessoso-Solfifera formation. Badlands can also be observed in the clays of Casa I Gessi formation, and the stratigraphic passage between this unit and the Gessoso-Solfifera formation is clearly visible at the bottom of the thick bank of alabaster chalk in morphological prominence along the upper edge of the badlands. The chalk bank is made up of whitish-coloured microcrystalline gypsum, several metres thick, with dark grey pelitic intercalations, and thick banks of selenitic microcrystalline grey-coloured macro-crystalline gypsum, also with dark grey bituminous decimetric levels. Rio Strazzano, a small right tributary of the Marecchia river, is marked by peculiar karst morphologies, including several hypogea-epigean passages of the watercourse, in a picture of rapid evolution due to the succession of collapses. The accessibility to the site is challenging, and particular attention should be given due to the presence of pseudokarstic features.

39(iv) Montemaggio hills (VMMrel003) (fig. 7C) - Relief characterized by two recognizable peaks, that rise at the top of the secondary ridge between the Mazzocco and San Marino streams. It is formed by San Marino formation limestones on Argille Varicolori formation. As for other isolated slabs of the San Marino formation, the Montemaggio one shows intense fracturing and is affected by lateral spreading processes, a phenomenon that occurs in relation to the clayey nature of the materials underlying the relief and brings to deep-seated gravitational slope deformation (DGPV) phenomena. At the foot of the relief we find the Acquaviva spring, which originates from lithological contact between the fractured limestones of San Marino formation and the Argille Varicolori, the latter representing the impermeable support of the aquifer. On the top of the hill, the Montemaggio Castle (castrum Montis Madii) remnants are identified, but have suffered from abandonment. Access to the area of the geosite is very easy.

40(v) San Leo cliff (VMMmmv001) (fig. 7F) - Spectacular cliff on the right side of Marecchia River, formed by calcareous limestones of San Marino formation and Monte Fumaiolo formation, lying in unconformity with the Argille Varicolori formation. At the top of the hill, San Leo Bourgh and Fortress. The cliffs' vast summit is surrounded by vertical rock cliffs, gentle clay hills, badlands and massive mass movements. The whole rock cliff is hardly fractured, and the intersection between fracture systems and layered banks’ surfaces produces topplings and rock-falls, thus endangering the site and the cultural heritage of the Bourgh (Benedetti et al., 2011). General instability is due to weathering at the foot of the cliffs, where the clays are hardly weathered and progressively leave portions of hanging blocks, that fall due to gravity. Related to this geosite is San Leo’s rock-fall geomorphological point of interest: the north eastern edge of the cliff became popular when the most impressive recent events occurred in 2006 and 2014. These events deposited and displaced, respectively 50,000 and 300,000 m3 of rock (fig. 7F). Visitors may better understand the volumes of the phenomena after comparing the present-day view of the site and historical testimonies (i.e. Mingucci’s 1626 waterpaint, already published in Benedetti et al., 2011), where significant modification of the cliff profile can be observed. The Bourgh faces a high hydrogeological risk, and various studies and interventions have been made to counteract those tendencies. One of the biggest and most iconic rupestrian tubs in Valmarecchia is located in the village, enclosed in-between San Leo’s church and the tower and cut in the sandstones (Battistini and Battistini,, 2011). Access to the site is very easy.

41(vi) Maiolo badlands (VMMmmv002) (fig. 7A) - Maiolo Fortress stands out on the top of an outlier boarded by impressive landslides and colourful badlands, cut within the Argille Varicolori formation. Maiolo block consists of coarse sandstones and conglomerate layers of the Argille Azzurre formation and the Mt. Perticara lithofacies, representing coastal sedimentary environments, and marginal marine or tidal environments. Argille Varicolori formation outcrops in the eastern badlands with their typical chaotic asset and intense deformation. Due to intense fracturing, numerous blocks fell from both the sides of the cliff and deposited at the foot of the slopes, moving towards the watersheds floating on mudslides that involve the clays. At least two big landslide events can be enhanced in Maiolo, which constitute a geomorphological point of interest. One of them is a historical event dated back to 29 May 1700, when a massive portion of sediments yielded from the top of the hill, most probably with a rock-slide movement type (Nesci et al., 2005) causing around 30 fatalities and causing the abandonment of the Bourgh (Piastra et al., 2005). The orientation of rock layers in the slope direction was probably a major control factor in determining the movement. Recent studies have proposed a connection between the landscapes of Piero della Francesca’s Doppio ritratto dei duchi di Urbino and the Marecchia valley, with particular reference to Maiolo cliff, that has been depicted before the massive event that would have destroyed the Bourgh (Borchia and Nesci, 2012). Mingucci’s 1626 waterpaint (already published in Guerra and Nesci, 2013) gives a faithful view of the village, and can be compared to present-day pictures to understand the severity of the phenomenon. Another landslide worth enhancing is located on the eastern side of the cliff, where recent active rock-falls and debris-flows can be observed in their state of activity. Accessibility to the site is easy. A rupestrian tub called Letto di San Paolo is located in the proximity of the geosites (locality Piani di San Paolo, on private land).

42(vii) Mt. San Marco peak (VMMrel004) (fig. 6B) - Pyramid-shaped relief that consists of limestones of San Marino formation, laying on the Argille Varicolori formation. The peak stands out in the landscape with a distinct shape. Recent studies have identified Mt. San Marco in Piero della Francesca's Baptism of Jesus (Nesci, 2012; O. Nesci, personal communication, 2020). Rocky formations of Mt. San Marco represent the typical Epiligurian plates of the Marecchia Valley; along the slopes, grey organogenic limestone and greyish-white limestone rich in bioclasts are well exposed, and it is easy to grasp their main characteristics: the fracturing, the colour varying from light grey to orange-yellow, the coarse grain size, the prevalence of fossil fragments compared to granules of other nature, and the numerous fossil remains, clearly visible. The marly lithofacies of the Argille Varicolori emerges along the western slope of Mt. San Marco, consisting of light brownish-grey marls with rare whitish grey marly limestones in decimetric layers. The relief has endured massive stone quarrying in historical times, and the previous extent of the mountain is clearly noticeable in historical aerial photos and satellite images. On the top of Mt. San Marco stood the ancient Monte Acuto castle (Sacco, 2004), whose remnants may be found in a few building stones. The Letto di San Marco (fig. 6D), one of the most iconic rupestrian tubs of the Marecchia valley, is located at the top of the mount and it has luckily survived the quarry activities. Accessibility to the site is slightly difficult; the trail that leads to the top is narrow and in traits quite exposed to a steep wooded slope.

Fig. 6 – Examples of geosites and associated cultural values.
Fig. 6 - Exemples de géosites et de valeurs culturelles associées.

Fig. 6 – Examples of geosites and associated cultural values.Fig. 6 - Exemples de géosites et de valeurs culturelles associées.

A: Tausani cliff (VMMrel002; S4 paleosurfaces in yellow dashed line); B: Monte San Marco peak and site of the castle ruins (VMMrel004); C: Masso del Tino rupestrian tub (Montefotogno); D: Monte San Marco rupestrian tub; E: Legnagnone chalks evaporitic layer (VMMkar001).
A. Crête des Tausani (VMMrel002 ; S4 paléosurfaces en pointillés jaunes) ; B. Pic de Monte San Marco et site des ruines du château (VMMrel004) ; C. Bassin rupestre de Masso del Tino (Montefotogno) ; D. Bassin rupestre du Monte San Marco ; E. Couche évaporitique de craies de Legnagnone (VMMkar001).

Fig. 7 – Other examples of geosites and associated cultural values.
Fig. 7 – Autres exemples de géosites et de valeurs culturelles associées.

Fig. 7 – Other examples of geosites and associated cultural values.Fig. 7 – Autres exemples de géosites et de valeurs culturelles associées.

A: Maiolo cliff and badlands (VMMmmv002); B: Penna del Gesso peak; C: Montemaggio hills (VMMrel003); D: Pietracuta peak and castle ruins (VMMrel001); E: Tausano rock-fall crown and deposit; F: San Leo rock-fall (VMMmmv001).
A. Maiolo pic et badlands (VMMmmv002) ; B. Pic de la Penna del Gesso ; C. Collines de Montemaggio (VMMrel003) ; D. Pic de Pietracuta et ruines du château (VMMrel001) ; E. Tausano cicatrice d’éboulement et dépôt ; F. L’éboulement de San Leo (VMMmmv001).

4.2.2. Geosite assessment

43Following the qualitative and quantitative methodology for assessing geomorphosites proposed by Reynard et al. (2016), it was possible to associate a score to each geosite for the scientific value (tab. 2), Ecological value (EV), Aesthetic value (AV) and Cultural value (CV), as summarized in Table 3, in order to verify the hierarchy of the total values of the geosites also according to their protection and conservation priority (tab. 4).

Table 2 – Scientific value assessment.
Tableau 2 - Évaluation de la valeur scientifique.

Table 2 – Scientific value assessment.Tableau 2 - Évaluation de la valeur scientifique.

Table 3 – Additional value assessment.
Tableau 3 - Évaluation de la valeur ajoutée.

Table 3 – Additional value assessment.Tableau 3 - Évaluation de la valeur ajoutée.

Table 4 – Summary table.
Tableau 4 - Tableau récapitulatif.

Table 4 – Summary table.Tableau 4 - Tableau récapitulatif.

44As concerns the scientific value assessment, in general, all of the geosites have retained their integrity, with an average score of 0.93 (table 2). Their representativeness is high in relation to Valmarecchia Epiligurian units (average score of 0.93), and also their rareness is important if related to the broader geological and geomorphological settings of the northern Apennines (average score 0.89). Also, the paleogeographic interest is high (average score 0.78) with a maximum score in the geosite of Legnagnone chalks.

45Ecological Impact (tab. 3) is generally high due to the presence of xerophile environments and flora associations in correspondence to calcareous peaks (average score 0.82). Protected Site values have been assigned as follows: 0 = no protection, 0.75 = most parts of the geosite reside in a protected area, 1 = all the extent of the geosite reside in a protected area. Pietracuta peak and Montemaggio hill are uncovered in this sense, while the other geosites areas are almost completely under protection. The average score of PS criteria is 0.61.

46Aesthetical value (tab. 3) is expressed as the criteria View Points and CVS (Colour contrast, Vertical development and Space structuration), which have high mean values due to the morphological recurrences on the geosites (i.e. vertical cliffs, high altitude locations, limestones above Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia), and have an average value of, respectively, 0.82 and 0.85.

47Cultural value (tab. 3) is expressed with the criteria Religious Importance, Historical Importance, Artistic and Literary Importance, and Economic Importance. Due to the fact that the CV is expressed not as an arithmetical mean but as the highest value among the criteria, all the geosites reach the score of 1 with the exception of Legnagnone chalks, in which no relevant cultural features have been detected. The EI of these geosites is negligible: few proper popularization actions have been undertaken, and the area has not been enriched with any geotouristic panels. Thus the only income that comes from the geosites is provided by spontaneous fruition of the sites and visits at the historical localities nearby.

4.3 Geotouristic map

48The geotouristic map has been compiled in order to enable visitors to explore the valley and dive into the landscape from the mountainous cliffs, travelling through a series of geological and geomorphological valuable features, complemented by cultural, historical and religious traits. The main roadways have been included to ease fruition and accessibility to the sites; in addition, already existing trails and treks have been highlighted in the map to get visitors to build their own trekking experience through self-chosen natural and cultural sites.

49In this map, elements that have been represented are the erosional surfaces, some of the most didactic examples of recent and historical massive landslides in the area (Tausano, Maiolo and San Leo), geosites of local and regional relevance and their assessment, protected areas (SIC-ZPS Natura 2000 sites and Natural Park of Sasso Simone and Simoncello). In addition, protected historical and cultural sites from TourER project of MiBACT Emilia-Romagna have been inserted, including religious buildings, meaningful residential buildings, fortifications, civil structures and architectural elements. The rupestrian tubs discussed above have been represented as a deeply rooted connection relating humans and the geological element, both in a spiritual and in a functional sense, and also the historical watermills, that can be found numerously in the Marecchia valley and mostly date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, have been highlighted.

Fig. 8 – Geotouristic map.
Fig. 8 – Carte géotouristique.

Fig. 8 – Geotouristic map.Fig. 8 – Carte géotouristique.

1. Study area; 2. Palaeosurface; 3. Recent didactive mudslide or debris flow; 4. Historical didactive mudslide or debris flow; 5. Recent didactive rock-fall or toppling; 6. Historical didactive rock-fall or toppling; 7. SIC-ZPS Natura 2000 protected area; 8. Interregional Park of Sasso Simone and Simoncello area; 9. Geosite of regional relevance; 10. Geosite of local relevance; 11. Main riverbeds; 12. Hydrographic network; 13. Walking trail; 14. Roadway; 15. Historical watermill. 1. La Fabbrica Stacchini, 2. Molino Case S.M. Maddalena, 3. Molino ai Pianacci, 4. Molino dei Sindaci, 5. Molino di Gaggino, 6. Molino di Ratini, 7. Molino Casepio, 8. Molino delle Macchie; 16. rupestrian tub. 1. Masso del Tino, 2. Mt. Fotogno, 3. Tausano, 4. San Leo, 5. Piani di San Paolo, 6. Mt. San Marco, 7. Mt. Copiolo; 17. Main locality; 18. Natural spring; 19. Peak; 20-24. Cultural sites (TourER). 20. Fortification; 21. Religious buildings; 22. Residential building; 23. Civil structure; 24. Architectural element.
1 . Zone d’étude ; 2 . Paléosurface ; 3 . Coulée de boue ou de débris récent d’intérêt géodidactique ; 4 . Coulée de boue ou de débris historique d’intérêt géodidactique ; 5 . Chute de blocs active d’intérêt didactique ; 6 . Chute de blocs héritée d’intérêt géodidactique ; 7 . zone protégée SIC-ZPS Natura 2000 ; 8 . Parc interrégional du Sasso Simone et Simoncello domaine ; 9 . géosite d'intérêt régional ; 10 . géosite d'intérêt local et nom ; 11 . Lits de rivière principaux ; 12 . Réseau hydrographique ; 13 . Sentier pédestre ; 14 . Route ; 15 . Moulin historique . 1 . La Fabbrica Stacchini, 2 . Molino Case S.M. Maddalena, 3 . Molino ai Pianacci, 4 . Molino dei Sindaci, 5 . Molino di Gaggino, 6 . Molino di Ratini, 7 . Molino Casepio, 8 . Molino delle Macchie ; 16 . Bassin rupestre . 1 . Masso del Tino, 2 . Mt. Fotogno, 3 . Tausano, 4 . San Leo, 5 . Piani di San Paolo, 6 . Mt. San Marco, 7 . Mt. Copiolo ; 17 . Localité principale ; 18 . Source naturelle ; 19 . Sommet ; 20-24 . Sites culturels (TourER) . 20 . fortification ; 21 . Bâtiments religieux ; 22 . Bâtiment résidentiel ; 23 . Structure civile ; 24 . Elément architectural.

5. Final remarks

50Knowledge of the geological and geomorphological history of this valley, to which geosites and the geodiversity of the place is directly linked, are fundamental for amplifying the tourist value of the area. In fact, when enhancing the geotouristic fruition of an area, many site-specific issues should be taken into account.

51The geotouristic map produced in the paper has been realized to enable visitors and inhabitants to explore the valley and observe the geological and physical landscape characterized by a series of geological and geomorphological valuable features, complemented by cultural, historical and religious heritage. The main roadways have been included to ease fruition and accessibility to the sites; besides, existing trails and treks have been highlighted in the map, to get visitors to build their own trekking experience through self-chosen natural and cultural sites.

52This synthesis map constitutes a desirable final product of a basic research activity. It facilitates and simplifies the final transmission of geological concepts and related disciplines also to a wide and heterogeneous public.

53In particular, the key elements, comprehend both natural and anthropic features, reported in the geotouristic map can be summarized as.

54(i) relict ancient erosional surfaces as the expression of the long-term morphoevolution of this sector of Marecchia river basin mainly due to fluvial processes; the remnants of these surfaces have been recognized and correlated through a 5-order hierarchy;

55(ii) Tausano landslide as a didactic example of the interaction among scientific surveys and historical sources when researching geological events of the past;

56(iii) Geosites established by Emilia-Romagna region (with local or regional value);

57(iv) Protected areas (SIC-ZPS Natura 2000 sites and Natural Park of Sasso Simone and Simoncello);

58(v) Protected historical and cultural sites (see TourER project https.//www.tourer.it/?lang=en, MiBACT Emilia-Romagna), that include religious buildings and sites, meaningful residential buildings, fortifications, civil structures;

59(vi) Rupestrian tubs, that are scattered throughout the whole Valmarecchia and express a deeply rooted connection relating human settlements and the geological element, both in a spiritual and in a practical sense;

60(vii) Historical watermills in the Marecchia valley, mostly referring to the 18th and 19th centuries.

61(viii) Typical stone-built rural villages, as the expression of those past manufactures, but inexorably subject to abandonment and degradation during the last decades. Present and past quarries could thus be considered as didactic sites, where it could be possible to learn the differences in territorial management and development occurred throughout history.

62With this work, we have proposed an integrated approach aimed at a comprehensive understanding of the geological and geomorphological values of the territory of Mazzocco river valley and surroundings. Our work begins with the geomorphological research and proceeds unfolding the existing connections among natural and cultural features and mankind, that have been working together for centuries in modelling the landscape. A deeper understanding of the proposed geoheritage themes could promote a sustainable and virtuous attitude towards the landscape, reaching the public, the inhabitants and administrations.

Cette recherche a été conduite dans le but de mettre en évidence le potentiel géotouristique et didactique de la rive droite de la moyenne vallée du fleuve Marecchia dans les Apennins du Nord, Italie (fig. 1), sur la base d'une carte géomorphologique comme outil d'inventaire et de promotion du géopatrimoine. L'objectif de ce travail est d'évaluer de manière quantitative et qualitative les valeurs scientifiques et additionnelles des géosites existants (fig. 2, tab. 1-4), de proposer des exemples de géomorphosites didactiques, et de produire à la fois des cartes géomorphologique et géotouristique propres à chaque site.

Ces cartes ont pour but de faciliter l’analyse descriptive et l'interprétation des géosites en insistant sur leurs valeurs historiques associées. La zone d'étude a été choisie parce qu'elle est représentative du contexte géologique (fig. 3), et géomorphologique et géodynamique (fig. 5) de toute la vallée du fleuve Marecchia. Cette dernière est caractérisée par des paysages particuliers montrant un haut degré de géodiversité qui s’exprime au travers des formes de relief d'érosion différentielle modelées dans différentes formations géologiques (fig. 6-7). A partir de l’approche cartographique, les principales caractéristiques de cette géodiversité ont été mises en évidence dans le but de proposer des actions pour améliorer le potentiel géotouristique de cette région (fig. 8).

Le travail a reposé (i) sur des enquêtes de terrain, (ii) sur une analyse diachronique de photographies aériennes, (iii) et sur des recherches bibliographiques (fig. 4). Ces investigations ont permis de collecter l’ensemble données paysagères nécessaires qui ont été géoréférencées dans un SIG (ArcGIS), et superposées à la carte géologique (fig. 3) et au réseau hydrographique, afin d’élaborer la carte géomorphologique complète de la zone d'étude (fig. 5).

Les valeurs scientifiques et culturelles des géosites ont été analysées par une procédure d'évaluation du géopatrimoine (sujet qui a été largement discuté pendant les dernières décennies dans la littérature scientifique). Suivant la méthodologie qualitative et quantitative d'évaluation des géomorphosites proposée par Reynard et al. (2016), il a été possible d'associer un score à chaque géosite pour sa valeur scientifique (tab. 2), sa valeur écologique (EV), sa valeur esthétique (AV), et enfin sa valeur culturelle (CV) (tab. 3), tout en considérant également les actions de de protection et de conservation (tab. 4).

Le patrimoine géologique et géomorphologique de la zone d’étude a été recensé à partir des géosites déjà catalogués de la région Emilie-Romagne, et intégrés avec une description détaillée pour chaque géosite. Ce travail a permis de valoriser les points d'intérêt géomorphologique et didactique de chacun d’entre eux, et d’évaluer leur valeur géopatrimoniale selon une approche modifiée de celle de Reynard et al. (2016).

Enfin, les éléments naturels ont été associés aux éléments anthropiques par l’intermédiaire d’un carte géotouristique (fig. 8), afin d'établir une relation entre les composantes naturelles du géopatrimoine et les composantes culturelles de la vallée.

Les cartes géomorphologique et géotouristique construites à l'échelle 1 : 75 000e, ont été élaborées afin (i) de mettre en valeur les formes et les processus du relief, et (ii) de fournir des outils pour la réalisation d'activités géotouristiques, et la compréhension des caractéristiques géologiques et géomorphologiques de la Valmarecchia. Ce travail a également permis de mettre à jour l’'inventaire régional des géosites grâce à de nouvelles observations faites sur le terrain, à l'amélioration des points d'intérêt géomorphologiques, et à l’évaluation quantitative et qualitative des valeurs scientifiques et des aspects de protection et de gestion de chacun d’entre eux. La carte géotouristique (fig. 8) a également été réalisée pour permettre aux visiteurs de découvrir ces géosites en privilégiant les aspects paysagers naturels et les éléments culturelles, historiques et religieuses. Les principales routes ont été incluses pour faciliter l'accès aux sites ; en outre, les sentiers déjà existants ont été mis en évidence afin de solliciter les visiteurs à construire leur propre expérience de trekking à travers des sites naturels et culturels qu'ils auront eux-mêmes choisis.

Avec ce travail, nous avons proposé une approche intégrée visant à une compréhension globale des valeurs géologiques et géomorphologiques du territoire de la moyenne vallée du fleuve Marecchia. Cette approche commence par la recherche géomorphologique et se poursuit en développant les liens existants entre les caractéristiques naturelles et culturelles qui ont contribué ensemble, et ce depuis des siècles, à la modélisation du paysage. Une compréhension plus approfondie des thèmes du géopatrimoine proposés pourrait promouvoir une mise en valeur plus durable et vertueuse des paysages, et de favoriser le lien entre les visiteurs, les habitants, et les administrateurs locaux.

*Corresponding author: Tel: +39 0722 376200
v.guerra1@campus.uniurb.it (V. Guerra)

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 – Study site.Fig. 1 – Site d’étude.
Légende A: Localization on a national scale; B: Regional scale; C: Panoramic view of the study area and main place names.A : Carte de Localisation à petite échelle ; B : Echelle régionale ; C : Vue panoramique de la zone d’étude et des principaux sites.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 2,6M
Titre Fig. 2 – Study area and protected zones.Fig. 2 – Zone d’étude et zones de protection.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-2.jpg
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Titre Fig. 3 – Geological map.Fig. 3 – Carte géologique.
Légende 1. Villa Verucchio Subsynthem (AES7); 2. Ravenna Subsynthem (AES8); 3. Ravenna Subsynthem, Modena Unit (AES8a); 4. Argille di Montebello Formation (AMN); 5. Acquaviva Formation (AQV); 6. Acquaviva Formation, Conglomerates lithofacies (AQVa); 7. Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia Formation (AVR); 8. Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia Formation, Arenaceous lithofacies (AVRa); 9. Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia Formation, Calcareous-arenaceous lithofacies (AVRb); 10. Argille Varicolori della Valmarecchia Formation, Marly lithofacies (AVRc); 11. Casa I Gessi Formation (CGE); 12. Argille Azzurre Formation, Borello Member (FAA2); 13. Argille Azzurre Formation, Arenaceous lithofacies (FAA2b); 14. Argille Azzurre Formation, Arenaceous-pelitic lithofacies (FAA2d); 15. Argille Azzurre Formation, Mt. Perticara lithofacies (FAAf); 16. Gessoso-Solfifera Formation (GES); 17. Monte Fumaiolo Formation, Mt. Aquilone Member (MFU1); 18. Monte Fumaiolo Formation, della Vetta Member (MFU2); 19. Monte Morello Formation (MLL); 20. Monte Morello Formation, Casa Nuova or Marne Rosate lithofacies (MLLa); 21. Sillano Formation (SIL); 22. San Marino Formation (SMN); 23. San Marino Formation, base Member (SMN1); 24. San Marino Formation, stratified limestones Member (SMN2); 25. San Marino Formation, San Alberico Member (SMN3); 26. Active landslides (a1); 27. Relict landslides (a2); 28. Slope debris (a3); 29. Flood-colluvial deposits (a4); 30. Fluvial conoids (i1); 31. Study area; 32. Main waterbed; 33. Hydrographic network; 34. Fault line; 35. overthrust (certain); 36. overthrust (uncertain or buried); 37. Surface evidence of anticline axis (certain); 38. Surface evidence of anticline axis (uncertain or buried); 39. Main localities; 40. Natural springs; 41. Peaks.1. Villa Verucchio Sub-synthème (AES7) ; 2. Ravenna Sub-synthème (AES8) ; 3. Ravenna Sub-synthème, Unité de Modena (AES8a) ;4. Formation des Argiles de Montebello (AMN) ; 5. Formation de Acquaviva (AQV) ; 6. Formation de Acquaviva, lithofaciès à conglomérats (AQVa) ; 7. Formation des Argiles bariolées de Valmarecchia (AVR) ; 8. Formation des Argiles bariolées de Valmarecchia, lithofaciès arénacés (AVRa) ; 9. Formation des Argiles bariolées de Valmarecchia, lithofaciès calcaires-arénacés (AVRb) ; 10. Formation des Argiles bariolées de Valmarecchia, lithofaciès marneux (AVRc) ; 11. Formation de Casa I Gessi (CGE) ; 12. Formation des Argiles bleues, membre Borello (FAA2) ; 13. Formation des Argiles bleues, lithofaciès arénacés (FAA2b) ; 14. Formation des Argiles bleues, lithofaciès arénacés-pélitiques (FAA2d) ; 15. Formation des Argiles bleues, lithofaciès de Mt. Perticara (FAAf) ; 16. Formation Gessoso-Solfifera (GES) ; 17. Formation de Monte Fumaiolo, membre Mt. Aquilone (MFU1) ; 18. Formation de Monte Fumaiolo, membre Della Vetta (MFU2) ; 19. Formation de Monte Morello (MLL) ; 20. Formation de Monte Morello, lithofaciès de Casa Nuova ou Marne Rosate (MLLa) ; 21. Formation de Sillano (SIL) ; 22. Formation de San Marino (SMN) ; 23. Formation San Marino, membre basal (SMN1) ; 24. Formation de San Marino, membre des calcaires stratifiés (SMN2) ; 25. Formation de San Marino, membre San Alberico (SMN3) ; 26. Glissement de terrain actif (a1) ; 27. Glissement de terrain relictuel (a2) ; 28. Débris de pente (a3) ; 29. Dépôts colluviaux de crue (a4) ; 30. Conoïdes fluviaux (i1) ; 31. Zone d'étude ; 32. Lits principaux de rivière ; 33. Réseau hydrographique ; 34. Faille ; 35. Chevauchement, certain ; 36. chevauchement, incertain ou enfoui ; 37. Axe anticlinal, certain ; 38. Axe anticlinal, incertain ou enfoui ; 39. Principales localités ; 40. Sources naturelles ; 41. Sommets.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-3.jpg
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Titre Fig. 4 – Research methodology flow chart.Fig. 4 - Organigramme de la méthodologie de recherche.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-4.jpg
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Titre Fig. 5 – Geomorphological map.Fig. 5 - Carte géomorphologique.
Légende 1 to 5. Palaeosurfaces classification (1 = S1; 2 = S2; 3 = S3; 4 = S4; 5 = S5); 6. Deeply-seated gravitational slope deformation (DGPV); 7. Active mudslide or debris flow (red arrow in the major ones); 8. Relict mudslide or debris flow; 9. Active complex landslide; 10. Relict complex landslide; 11. Active rock-fall; 12. Relict rock-fall; 13. Active rotational slide; 14. Relict rotational slide; 15. Main riverbeds; 16. Fluvial terraces; 17. Badlands; 18. Study area; 19. Alluvial fan; 20. Hydrographic network; 21. Abandoned river channel traces; 22. Cliff prone to rock-falls and topplings; 23. Landslide crowns; 24. DGPV trench; 25. Active quarry; 26. Inactive quarry; 27. Main locality; 28. Natural springs; 29. Peaks.1 à 5 : Classification des paléosurfaces (1 = S1 ; 2 = S2 ; 3 = S3 ; 4 = S4 ; 5 = S5 ; 6. Déformation gravitationnelle profonde de la pente (DGPV) ; 7. Coulée de boue ou de débris active ; 8. Coulée de boue ou de débris héritée ; 9. Glissement de terrain complexe actif ; 10. Glissement de terrain complexe hérité ou dormant ; 11. Chute de blocs active ; 12. Chute de blocs héritée ; 13. Glissement rotationnel actif ; 14. Glissement rotationnel hérité ou dormant ; 15. Lits de rivière principaux ; 16. Terrasses fluviales ; 17. Badlands ; 18. Zone d'étude ; 19. Cône alluvial ; 20. Réseau hydrographique ; 21. Traces de chenaux de rivière abandonnés ; 22. Falaise sujette aux éboulements et aux écroulements ; 23. Cicatrices d'éboulement ; 24. Tranchée de DGPV ; 25. Carrière active ; 26. Carrière inactive ; 27. Principales localités ; 28. Sources naturelles ; 29. Pics.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-5.jpg
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Titre Table 1 - General data of the geosite inventory.Tableau 1 - Données générales de l'inventaire des géosites.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-6.jpg
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Titre Fig. 6 – Examples of geosites and associated cultural values.Fig. 6 - Exemples de géosites et de valeurs culturelles associées.
Légende A: Tausani cliff (VMMrel002; S4 paleosurfaces in yellow dashed line); B: Monte San Marco peak and site of the castle ruins (VMMrel004); C: Masso del Tino rupestrian tub (Montefotogno); D: Monte San Marco rupestrian tub; E: Legnagnone chalks evaporitic layer (VMMkar001).A. Crête des Tausani (VMMrel002 ; S4 paléosurfaces en pointillés jaunes) ; B. Pic de Monte San Marco et site des ruines du château (VMMrel004) ; C. Bassin rupestre de Masso del Tino (Montefotogno) ; D. Bassin rupestre du Monte San Marco ; E. Couche évaporitique de craies de Legnagnone (VMMkar001).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-7.jpg
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Titre Fig. 7 – Other examples of geosites and associated cultural values.Fig. 7 – Autres exemples de géosites et de valeurs culturelles associées.
Légende A: Maiolo cliff and badlands (VMMmmv002); B: Penna del Gesso peak; C: Montemaggio hills (VMMrel003); D: Pietracuta peak and castle ruins (VMMrel001); E: Tausano rock-fall crown and deposit; F: San Leo rock-fall (VMMmmv001).A. Maiolo pic et badlands (VMMmmv002) ; B. Pic de la Penna del Gesso ; C. Collines de Montemaggio (VMMrel003) ; D. Pic de Pietracuta et ruines du château (VMMrel001) ; E. Tausano cicatrice d’éboulement et dépôt ; F. L’éboulement de San Leo (VMMmmv001).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-8.jpg
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Titre Table 2 – Scientific value assessment.Tableau 2 - Évaluation de la valeur scientifique.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-9.jpg
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Titre Table 3 – Additional value assessment.Tableau 3 - Évaluation de la valeur ajoutée.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-10.jpg
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Titre Table 4 – Summary table.Tableau 4 - Tableau récapitulatif.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-11.jpg
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Titre Fig. 8 – Geotouristic map.Fig. 8 – Carte géotouristique.
Légende 1. Study area; 2. Palaeosurface; 3. Recent didactive mudslide or debris flow; 4. Historical didactive mudslide or debris flow; 5. Recent didactive rock-fall or toppling; 6. Historical didactive rock-fall or toppling; 7. SIC-ZPS Natura 2000 protected area; 8. Interregional Park of Sasso Simone and Simoncello area; 9. Geosite of regional relevance; 10. Geosite of local relevance; 11. Main riverbeds; 12. Hydrographic network; 13. Walking trail; 14. Roadway; 15. Historical watermill. 1. La Fabbrica Stacchini, 2. Molino Case S.M. Maddalena, 3. Molino ai Pianacci, 4. Molino dei Sindaci, 5. Molino di Gaggino, 6. Molino di Ratini, 7. Molino Casepio, 8. Molino delle Macchie; 16. rupestrian tub. 1. Masso del Tino, 2. Mt. Fotogno, 3. Tausano, 4. San Leo, 5. Piani di San Paolo, 6. Mt. San Marco, 7. Mt. Copiolo; 17. Main locality; 18. Natural spring; 19. Peak; 20-24. Cultural sites (TourER). 20. Fortification; 21. Religious buildings; 22. Residential building; 23. Civil structure; 24. Architectural element.1 . Zone d’étude ; 2 . Paléosurface ; 3 . Coulée de boue ou de débris récent d’intérêt géodidactique ; 4 . Coulée de boue ou de débris historique d’intérêt géodidactique ; 5 . Chute de blocs active d’intérêt didactique ; 6 . Chute de blocs héritée d’intérêt géodidactique ; 7 . zone protégée SIC-ZPS Natura 2000 ; 8 . Parc interrégional du Sasso Simone et Simoncello domaine ; 9 . géosite d'intérêt régional ; 10 . géosite d'intérêt local et nom ; 11 . Lits de rivière principaux ; 12 . Réseau hydrographique ; 13 . Sentier pédestre ; 14 . Route ; 15 . Moulin historique . 1 . La Fabbrica Stacchini, 2 . Molino Case S.M. Maddalena, 3 . Molino ai Pianacci, 4 . Molino dei Sindaci, 5 . Molino di Gaggino, 6 . Molino di Ratini, 7 . Molino Casepio, 8 . Molino delle Macchie ; 16 . Bassin rupestre . 1 . Masso del Tino, 2 . Mt. Fotogno, 3 . Tausano, 4 . San Leo, 5 . Piani di San Paolo, 6 . Mt. San Marco, 7 . Mt. Copiolo ; 17 . Localité principale ; 18 . Source naturelle ; 19 . Sommet ; 20-24 . Sites culturels (TourER) . 20 . fortification ; 21 . Bâtiments religieux ; 22 . Bâtiment résidentiel ; 23 . Structure civile ; 24 . Elément architectural.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/docannexe/image/15193/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 4,3M
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Référence papier

Veronica Guerra et Maurizio Lazzari, « Geomorphological mapping as a tool for geoheritage inventory and geotourism promotion: a case study from the middle valley of the Marecchia River (northern Italy) », Géomorphologie : relief, processus, environnement, vol. 27 - n° 2 | 2021, 127-145.

Référence électronique

Veronica Guerra et Maurizio Lazzari, « Geomorphological mapping as a tool for geoheritage inventory and geotourism promotion: a case study from the middle valley of the Marecchia River (northern Italy) », Géomorphologie : relief, processus, environnement [En ligne], vol. 27 - n° 2 | 2021, mis en ligne le 13 janvier 2021, consulté le 28 juillet 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/15193 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/geomorphologie.15193

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Auteurs

Veronica Guerra

Department of Pure and Applied Sciences, University “Carlo Bo”, via Ca' le Suore 2, 61029 Urbino (PU), Italy.

Maurizio Lazzari

CNR ISPC, C/da S. Loja Zona industriale, 85050 Tito Scalo (PZ), Italy.

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