Italy's Ring of Fire

Italy's Ring of Fire
Location: Calabria, Italy
Team: Nano Seeber and Meg Reitz
Purpose: Geological Studies
Start Date: May 26, 2010

Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes shake southern Italy frequently, as they have for 12 million years. In that time, tectonic movement has split Calabria--the "toe" of the Italian boot--from what are today the islands of Sardinia and Corsica to the west, and formed mountain ranges. As part of the international Calabrian Arc Project, Lamont-Doherty scientists Nano Seeber and Meg Reitz are traversing Calabria to examine rocks and study the terrain to better understand this complex and violent history. Read about their work here.

Connecting Young and Old

by | 6.29.2010 at 4:41pm | 1 Comment

Nano and I took the train to Rome to meet a colleague for lunch, and after we explored the old city. I have been through Rome a number of times, making my way to and from Calabria, but this was my first time really seeing the city. Nano was a fantastic tour guide. He was [...]

Hiking Monte Pollino

by | 6.28.2010 at 11:33am

I grew up in a family that drove on vacations, be it six hours to the beach, eight hours to see relatives, or three days to Idaho. So the seven hour drive from Calabria to Rome is no big deal, although the lack of air conditioning does make it undesirable. When I tell my friends [...]

Fitting Calabria through a Rocky Doorway

by | 6.27.2010 at 10:35am

One of the challenges of studying the Calabrian subduction zone is the enormous variation over relatively short distances. Etna is located just 120 kilometers from Stromboli, yet the volcanoes have completely different sources of magma. Fluvial conglomerates in the Crotone Basin have lots of chert, yet conglomerates of the same age just 15 kilometers to [...]

A Home Away From Home

by | 6.25.2010 at 9:36am

After the memorable trip up Mount Etna, Nano went to the Southern Apennines, while my parents and I made the familiar trip (for me, anyway) across the Sila and into the Crotone Basin. I raved to my parents about the great beaches and wonderful swimming in the Ionian Sea; I reminisced about my time on [...]

Etna’s Changing Landscape

by | 6.24.2010 at 11:25am
At 11,000 feet, Mount Etna is tall enough to have snow in June. Credit: Meg Reitz.

Boris and Alfio, geologists at Sicily’s National Institute of Geophyscis and Volcanology picked us up in their four-wheel drive jeeps. Etna is a stunning image. She rises 3,300 meters right from the seafloor, towering over the towns located around her flanks, providing fertile land for farming and beautiful hiking and skiing. Alfio calls her their [...]

Analyzing Mount Etna’s Lava

by | 6.22.2010 at 9:55am

Italy has some of the most famous volcanoes in the world: Vesuvius, Stromboli, and Vulcano all lie in a chain along Italy’s western coast. Scientists have found that these volcanoes are all intricately linked to the subduction of the Ionian Sea beneath southern Italy, Calabria, and Sicily. An oceanic plate contains rocks that have a [...]

A Dry Mediterranean

by | 6.11.2010 at 1:52pm

The Crotone Basin accumulated sediments for nine million years before the forearc uplifted above sea level. Each layer of sand, clay, and conglomerate in the basin contains information about the environment at the time that layer was deposited. About six million years ago, halite and gypsum were deposited in the Crotone Basin. Geologists refer to [...]

Travels through the Crotone Basin

by | 6.9.2010 at 4:48pm

The climate of the Crotone Basin is marked by cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers. We arrived last year, on our first trip, in the middle of a six-month drought that lasted from April to September. I love how life figures out a way to flourish. Flowers in a riverbed; Snails on a thorn [...]

Same Road, Different Obstacle

by | 6.6.2010 at 4:03pm

Last year I was collecting a sample of sediment from a riverbed and spent the day walking up the Neto River to find a good location. When I finished, I noticed a road high on one side of the valley. I climbed to the road and found a tunnel with no lights inside. I looked [...]

How the Toe of Italy’s Boot Evolved

by | 5.31.2010 at 9:24am

Nano and I have arrived in the Crotone Basin, where we’re staying in a place that Italians call an “agriturismo,” which is like a bed and breakfast that also serves lunch and dinner. Our little place is unique even among agriturismos. It is called Canciumati (can-chew-ma-tea), a house with four generations living under one roof. [...]