Geohistorical projects

Geohistorical evolution of wetlands in the southern Venetian plain and South Carolina

(Silvia E. Piovan)

This project aims to map the wetlands in the inland of Southern Venetian plain and in South Carolina using existing maps and aerial imagery, to collect data about losses and gain in wetlands, and to study the geo-historical evolution of human-environmental interactions, stakeholders roles and water policies in the two study areas in a diachronic perspective. The project is primarily based on historical GIS methodologies with the support of field validation data.

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Figure 1. The little pond Gorgo della Novizza in Anguillara Veneta. Even if small and geographically isolated, this kind of wetlands offers an important role for the biodiversity of the southern Venetian plain.

Historical changes in the Adige and Po fluvial system in the southern Venetian plain (Italy) and repercussions on the territory

(Silvia E. Piovan in collaboration with Paolo Mozzi)

The goal in this research project is to offer a detailed analysis of the historical river changes that occurred on the Adige and Po fluvial systems, the first and second largest Italian rivers by length. The study area is the southern Venetian plain area where the two supraelevated rivers interacted over the millennia. This area is also an emblem of a productive but also dramatic relationship between humans and the rivers. Natural and anthropogenic historical changes on the major rivers, canals and minor drainage channels are analyzed starting from the ancient time (this area was on the path of the Amber Road). A special focus is dedicated to the Venetian period (e.g. important modifications on rivers such as construction of artificial levees and rectifications) and the contemporary age (e.g. pumping stations construction, recent floods and mitigation). The research takes advantage of different geoarchaeological methods such as historical maps and aerial photos analysis, interviews, geomorphological and stratigraphical analysis in an interdisciplinary approach integrated with GIS.

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Figure 2. Geomorphological sketch of the Southern Venetian Plain (Mozzi, Piovan & Corr�, 2018).

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Figure 3. Anguillara Veneta, 16th February 1933. Improvements in the left embankment on the Adige River. The workers were using horses and decauville rails for the transportation of the materials.

Geohistorical approach to finding gristmills sites in southeastern USA and Veneto region (Italy)

(Michael E. Hodgson & Silvia E. Piovan)

Numerous small anthropogenic-created ponds are found throughout the eastern United States.   These ponds were created in the late 1700s and especially in the 1800s as a reliable water source for turning grist or sawmills.  Except for a few historic relics the mills have disappeared on the landscape while their ponds typically remain, serving other purposes, such as fishing or hunting lakes, or merely aesthetic environments.  In the Veneto region of Italy, gristmills were also common and date back to over a thousand years.  However, in the very low topographic relief of the Po and Adige River floodplain the gristmills were engineered differently with many built on floating barges on the major rivers.  Again, very few land-based gristmills exist today while none of the floating mills exist.  In this research we are developing a geohistorical GIS-based framework, with a multitude of geographic data sources, to predict the location of these historic features.  The developed framework will be used to predict locations and confidence of these sites in the Veneto region of Italy and the Southeastern United States.

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Figure 4. Location of floating mills (molini) near the bridge of mills (Ponte Molino) in Padova on historic map.

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Figure 5. Remains of combined gristmill and textile mill in Georgia (2017).