The Italian Almanac

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Venice

Italian News - November 24

The idea is simple: to bloat the subsurface of Venice and lift the city, defending it from high water. How? By injecting seawater 700 metres underground. The effect would be to raise the city by 30 centimetres over ten years. The project was presented to all the bodies involved in protecting the lagoon city by its deviser and coordinator, Giuseppe Gambolati, professor of numerical methods for engineering at the University of Padua, who has been studying subsidence problems in Venice and the upper Adriatic for more than thirty years.

“The project would cost 100 million Euro at most”, Professor Gambolati assures, “I can categorically rule out any damage to buildings from this procedure. The historic centre of Venice has sunk 13 centimeters since the early 20th century, in an anything but uniform manner, but absolutely nothing has happened”. Now a pilot project costing 15 million Euro has been presented to verify the hypothesis on a one square kilometer model by observing how the surface level rises over three years.

Michele Jamiolkowski, professor of geotechnical engineering at the Polytechnic of Turin, disagrees. An expert on the Venetian lagoon, Professor Jamiolkowski has also chaired the committee that stabilized the Leaning Tower of Pisa and drafted an expert opinion on water injection for the Venice-based CORILA consortium.

“This idea is science fiction. I set no limits to research but it is too difficult, time-consuming and expensive to find out what the subsurface of Venice is like that far underground. And it’s highly unlikely that the sequence of soil strata will permit an operation of this kind. There is a further danger that lifting, the mechanics of which is completely different from subsidence, will not be uniform, causing permanent damage to the whole of the built environment”.