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Coastal Groundwater Bodies Modelling Using Geophysical Surveys: The Reconstruction of the Geometry of Alluvial Plains in the North-Eastern Sicily (Italy)


The integration of various geophysical methodologies is considered a fundamental tool for accurately reconstructing the extent and shape of a groundwater body and for estimating the physical parameters that characterize it. This is often essential for the management of water resources in areas affected by geological and environmental hazards. This work aims to reconstruct the pattern and extent of two groundwater bodies, located in the coastal sectors of the North-Eastern Sicily, through the integrated analysis and interpretation of several geoelectrical, seismic and geological data. These are the Sant’Agata-Capo D’Orlando (SCGWB) and the Barcelona-Milazzo (BMGWB) Groundwater Bodies, located at the two ends of the northern sector of the Peloritani geological complex. These two studied coastal plains represent densely populated and industrialized areas, in which the quantity and quality of the groundwater bodies are under constant threat. At first, the resistivity models of the two groundwater bodies were realized through the inversion of a dataset of Vertical Electrical Soundings (VES), constrained by stratigraphic well logs data and other geophysical data. The 3D resistivity models obtained by spatially interpolating 1D inverse VES models have allowed for an initial recognition of the distribution of groundwater, as well as a rough geological framework of the subsoil. Subsequently, these models were implemented by integrating results from active and passive seismic data to determine the seismic P and S wave velocities of the main lithotypes. Simultaneous acquisition and interpretation of seismic and electrical tomographies along identical profiles allowed to determine the specific values of seismic velocity, electrical resistivity and chargeability of the alluvial sediments, and to use these values to constrain the HVSR inversion. All this allowed us to recognize the areal extension and thickness of the various lithotypes in the two investigated areas and, finally, to define the depth and the morphology of the base of the groundwater bodies and the thickness of the filling deposits.