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Supplements of Geografia Fisica e Dinamica Quaternaria
Volume VI - 2003


Fifth International Conference on Geomorphology (Tokio, Japan , 2001) - Geomorphologic Revolutions and Quaternary Environmental Changes


Holocene enviromental changes and their impact on anthropogenic activity: some examples from Italy

Pages 33-45


Geological and archaeological evidence in Italy indicates that in the pre -historical and histori cal times men and their activities suffered from dee p environmenta l changes, caused by natural processes acting at different time scale. Long-term modi fications were induced by fluvio-delraic processes, which acted over decades or centur ies and stro ngly modified th e mor – phological aspe cts of coastal zones, causin g the filling in of wide lagoons and the seaward shifting of the sho relines . Th e delt a areas of rivers Ombron e (Tusca ny) and Teve re (Lat ium) are examined. Geomo rphological evide nce testifies that the environment al modifications of the two areas we re almos t isoch ron ous and they occ urre d gradually in time int ervals of some de cades up to some centuries. Contemporary, archaeological studies show that human settlements had time enough to confo rm their structures and eco nomies to the progressive and slow enviro nmenta l changes. Sudden changes occurred because of volcanism; some evide nce of this kind of modificat ion s are found in the volcanic area of SommaVesuvio (Campa nia) where catastrophic eruptions caused huge top ogra phic variations over th e last 3500 years and the des truc tion of hu – man set tlements. Unlike th e delta areas, in the Somma-Vesuvio neighbouring th e morphotop ographi c modifications were so fast and dr astic th at people could not conform th eir activities to the changed environmenta l conditions. However th e cited examples indic ate th at , although repeat edly and deeply modifi ed , this volcanic area never stopped at – tractin g peop le bec ause of th e lar ge availabi lity of environmenta l resour ces. This is proved by the examined archaeological sites , where the remains of stabl e settleme nts altern ate with eruptive or volcano clastic deposits.

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