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Volume 32 (2) - 2009


The decadence of the Sambucina Abbey (Calabria, southern Italy): geological and historical hints

Pages 203-212


An integrated geological and historical approach has been adopted to understand the suite of natural events which led to the progressive disruption of the Cistercian Sambucina Abbey (Luzzi, Crati Valley, Calabria) since its early foundation in the 12 th century. The Abbey relics lay on the eastern shoulder of the Crati Graben, on the crystalline-metamorphic domains of the Palaeozoic rocks of the Sila Massif. By means of both aerial photo interpretation and field survey, a multiple roto-translational slide affecting a large sector of the Sambucina slope has been recognized. In the same area, several shallow landslides concur in aggravating the instability of the Abbey area. Historical documents collected in libraries and archives suggest that the primitive core of the Abbey, destroyed by the 1184 earthquake, was soon rebuilt by the Cistercians following the monumental building rules of their order. Around 1220, the Abbey was again hit by a local earthquake and by a coseismic landslide, which caused the temporary abandonment of the site. Finally, in 1569, a catastrophic landslide completely destroyed the abbatial complex, which was thus abandoned for a long time. On the basis of the historical accounts of this disaster, of the archaeological evidence in the Abbey relics, and of the geomorphological evidence, the geological model of the landslide has been reconstructed.

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