Geophysics for natural risks

A.Y. 2018/2019
Overall hours
GEO/11 GEO/12
Learning objectives
To provide the students with knowledge about natural risks in a probabilistic framework, above all for risks related to the dynamics of geophysical fluids (atmosphere, continental and marine hydrosphere) and in particular to extreme events and diffusion of contaminants in the environment (water, air, soil). For this goal, the course unit aims at providing the students with basic knowledge on geophysical fluid dynamics and on geophysical techniques for the characterization and monitoring of contaminated sites.
Expected learning outcomes
(1) Ability to manage natural risks in a probabilistic framework, taking into account interactions between different hazard types, different contests of risk-analysis application, communication issues. (2) Ability to study scientific papers and technical reports on geophysical fluid dynamics (atmosphere, marine and continental hydrosphere) and on transport phenomena, with particular emphasis on the study of extreme events and contamination of water, air and soil. (3) Ability to analyze the results of monitoring surveys, data processing and physico-mathematical modeling, for applications about risk analysis about extreme events and pollution.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
1) Natural risks
a. Natural and non-natural risks and their interaction.
b. Probabilistic risk assessment: hazard, vulnerability, and damage costs.
c. Contamination risk: conceptual model (source, transport, receptor).
d. Risk assessment applications: environmental impact assessment; strategic environmental assessment; civil defense; contaminated sites.
e. An introduction to monitoring and experiments.
f. Development and application of mathematical models for risk assessment.
2) An introduction to descriptive statistics, probability theory and stochastic processes, with a focus on the statistical description of extreme events and applications to transport phenomena.
3) Elements of geophysical fluid dynamics.
a. An introduction to atmospheric thermodynamics: humidity; equivalent temperature and adiabatic gradient in atmosphere; potential temperature.
b. Radiation emission: absorption, transmission and reflection.
c. Divergence, gradient and rotor. Eulerian and Lagrangian approach to fluid dynamics.
d. Mass conservation and continuity equation.
e. Equation of motion for a viscous fluid in rotating frame: geostrophic approximation.
f. Groundwater flow: physics of porous media (continuum approach), Darcy's law, hydraulic head, fluid flow equations for a porous medium.
4) Transport phenomena.
a. Advection, diffusion, turbulent dispersion.
b. Advective, diffusive, and dispersive equation with reactions.
c. Contamination plumes in air, as a function of stability conditions; contamination plumes in free waters.
d. Transport in groundwater and soils: advection, diffusion, hydrodynamic dispersion and reactions.
5) Contamination risk assessment.
a. Characterization and monitoring of contaminated sites.
b. Geophysical methods for the investigation of contaminated sites: electrical methods (SEV, ERGI, IP), electromagnetic methods (FDEM, GPR).
6) Examples.
a. Extreme phenomena (medicanes);
b. Groundwater contamination;
c. Field data acquisition demonstration.
Practicals with elements of theory: 12 hours
Lessons: 40 hours
to be arranged via e-mail or phone
via Cicognara 7
By phone or mail appointment
via Cicognara 7