online events

30th SePtember 2021 h14.00

Detecting mountain permafrost with electromagnetic methods (GPR, ERT)

Permafrost interacts with climate by reacting with aggradation or degradation processes, ultimately causing the increase/decrease of its thickness. The transformations of the state of permafrost affecting alpine slopes are critical to people and to ecosystems. They induce slope instability and changes in geomorphic processes (e.g. floods) and related hazard scenarios. Moreover, the long-term reservoirs of frozen water represented by permafrost-affected terrains are likely to become increasingly important water reservoir under ongoing global-warming. Being sensitive to internal ice formed under prolonged sub-zero temperatures, Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT), Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) are methods commonly adopted to detect permafrost in mountain detritical slopes. Rock glaciers (i.e. slow flowing mixtures of debris and ice in variable proportion) are the clearest, most abundant and studied permafrost-related landforms in mountain regions. In this seminar some applications (survey strategies, results and interpretations) of ERT and GPR surveys for permafrost detection in rock glaciers are illustrated.



Department of Earth Sciences, University of Pisa

Adriano Ribolini


Current Position


Department of Earth Sciences, University of Pisa

Adriano Ribolini deals with methods for identifying permafrost and its climatic significance in the European Alpine region. Furthermore, he studies the relationships between glacial deposits and permafrost (rock glacier) with the aim of reconstructing the paleoenvironmental changes that occurred in the Alpine cryosphere. In addition to surface thermal investigations, he has frequently employed electrical and electromagnetic methods on rock glaciers developing interpretations of the data capable of reconstructing their internal (cryo) -stratigraphic architecture. He is currently engaged in projects for the characterization of permafrost as a long-term aquifer through the combined use of geomorphological, thermal, photogrammetric and geophysical investigations.