The word “territory” evokes other words: environment, hazards, vulnerability, risk, protection, enhancement and sustainable development. Earth science allows to raise awareness of the resources and dangers of a territory to manage the natural heritage in a sustainable way. Understanding the physical dynamics to identify and monitor the areas at risk, to produce models that act as tools for prevention are some of the activities that characterize the geology sector.

The institute is active in national and international research projects, primarily aimed at sustainable management of the territory, geological and energy resources. The main topics of applied research are related to the geological and thematic mapping like the study and analysis of processes and phenomena of instability, development of new tools for monitoring, development of three-dimensional geological models, hazard assessment and natural risks. The sector also provides geological, geophysical and geotechnical services.

Geological Mapping

The geological mapping allows synthesizing and representing the geological reality of an area, using the best knowledge available at the moment of detection. The projects, commissioned by the Nation Geological Service, consist in the development of geological maps from photointerpretation (project GeoCover) and detection of details in the field (Project Atlas). The project GeoCover is aimed to acquire and collect geological vector data that are managed in a structured database at national level. The Atlas project instead consists in collection and preparation of a geological Atlas sheet of Switzerland and its explanatory notes.
In the context of the GeoCover project, the digitization of geological data allows a greater flexibility in terms of update and a better experience of the knowledge, acquired respect to the classics documents. Concerning the Geological Atlas, the focus is placed on detailed maps of the upper layers of the soil, in order to have geological data of high quality in terms of a better use of the territory.

Thematic cartography

The sector deals with the creation of thematic maps in the field of geological phenomena such as instability, hazards and seismic micro zonation. The steps to conduct such activities include reliefs and analysis of land with the support of methodologies using remote sensing geomatics, for example analysis of analog and digital images, as well as the use of digital models and orthophotos.
In particular, the three-dimensional view of the area, using specific software, allows to have a global overview of the present shapes, so as to identify areas affected by different types of hazards, especially in areas that are hardly accessible.

Natural hazards assessment

The study of areas exposed to natural hazards takes place through cartography, the numerical modelling and monitoring of the phenomena of instability (slides, rock falls, debris flows, earth flow).
Stability studies, using the latest computational tools and development of numerical models (landslides extension, debris flows, dynamic, permafrost distribution), allow an assessment of the areas potentially affected by slope instability processes, providing preventive instruments which are essential to limit the damage resulting from natural hazards.
In particular, upgrading the cartography and cadastre of landslides, coupled with the use of precise monitoring tools (inclinometer measurements, distance-measuring and piezometric) allows a continuous control of the most unstable areas.