REPORT Summer Meeting Monticchio, Italy

International Summer Meeting on Volcanic Lakes
“Different perspectives and approaches to study a volcanic lake”
Laghi di Monticchio (Basilicata, Italia)
25-29 June 2018

by Jacopo Cabassi

The aim of this scientific meeting held at Monticchio Laghi, Rionero in Vulture, Potenza (Basilicata, southern Italy) was to experience a common scientific activity at the shoreline of two volcanic lakes, i.e. Monticchio Grande and Monticchio Piccolo, focusing on peculiar approaches and methods of investigation of volcanic lakes from the geochemical, biological and limnological perspective.


The two Monticchio lakes.

Monticchio lakes are hosted within two maars formed 140 ky ago during the last eruptive activity of Mt. Vulture. The area is characterized by intense CO2 degassing and bubbling gases are present along the lakeshores. Lake rollover, fish-kill events were witnessed on June and August 1810 and in 1820, with the formation of water fountains up to 6 m high. Lake Piccolo is the tributary of Lake Grande through an artificial channel. It has a maximum depth of 38 m, a surface area of 1.6×105 m2, and a volume of 3.98×106 m3. Steep walls, a funnel shape, and a depth-ratio value of 0.64 characterize the lake morphology. Lake Grande has a maximum depth of 35 m, a surface area of 4.1×105 m2, and a volume of 3.25×106 m3. A large portion of this lake has a flat bottom not exceeding 12 m depth. Consequently, its depth ratio is relatively low (0.25). A channel built by monks of the nearby monastery, to prevent water level increases, connects Lake Grande to the Ofanto River. The dissolved gas reservoir shows CO2 and CH4 at relevant and comparable concentrations (bioactivity-type lakes).

Organization, participants and main sponsors
The scientific committee of the International Summer Meeting on Volcanic Lakes 2018 were composed of researchers and professionals from prestigious research institutions and national university institutes:

– Franco Tassi, University of Florence, Italy
– Fatima Viveiros, University of the Azores, Portugal
– Martin Zimmer, GFZ, Germany
– Gladys Melian Rodriguez, ITER, Spain
– Bertram Boehrer, UFZ, Germany
– Cristiana Callieri, CNR-ISE, Italy
– Antonio Caracausi, INGV Palermo, Italy
– Guendalina Pecoraino, INGV Palermo, Italy
– Michele Paternoster, University of Basilicata, Italy
The organizing committee, with the administrative support of :

– Associazione NaturalisticaGEODE (Palermo, Italy), were composed as follow:
– Franco Tassi, University of Florence, Italy
– Michele Paternoster, University of Basilicata, Italy
– Sergio Calabrese, University of Palermo, Italy
– Orlando Vaselli, University of Florence, Italy
– Jacopo Cabassi, CNR-IGG, Italy
– Francesco Capecchiacci, University of Florence, Italy
– Stefania Venturi, University of Florence, Italy
– Francesco Magi, University of Florence, Italy


The 26 participants were young and senior researchers having different scientific backgrounds (geochemists, limnologists, biologists, volcanologists) and coming not only from Italy, but also from European and non-European countries (USA, Romania, Hungary, Germany, Holland, France).
The main sponsors were: Società Geochimica Italiana (SOGEI, official patronage); Springer; Società Italiana di Mineralogia e Petrologia (SIMP); Commission of Volcanic Lakes (CVL-IAVCEI); West Systems; Provincia di Potenza; APT Basilicata; Università degli Studi della Basilicata; Thermo-Fisher Scientific; Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Università della Basilicata.

The meeting: presentations and field activities
The meeting aimed to encourage and promote the exchange of expertise among international scientists in the study of limnic systems of volcanic environments, especially favouring the discussion and the development of new multidisciplinary and methodological research approaches.


Lake Piccolo. Picture by Jacopo Cabassi.

The day after the arrival (i.e. 26 June) was entirely dedicated to oral presentations and discussions, in which each of the participants was able to present case studies or theoretical lessons relevant to the study of volcanic lakes from various methodological and disciplinary perspectives. The presentations were exhibited in the evocative scenery of the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo, located above Lake Piccolo. During the day, it was also possible to visit the Museum of Natural History of Vulture inside the abbey.


Scientific session. Picture by Jacopo Cabassi.

The days 27 and 28 June were dedicated to practical activities, carried out in both the lakes of Monticchio (Grande and Piccolo), for the measurement of physical-chemical parameters and the collection of samples for laboratory analysis. More specifically, water and dissolved gas sampling was carried out along vertical profiles from the lake surface to the bottom at selected depths, at a site corresponding to the deepest point of the lake. The sampling equipment consisted of Rilsan® tubes (ϕ=6 mm) connected through steel connectors. Water was pumped via the tubes up to the surface by means of a 100 ml syringe equipped with a three-way valve and transferred into plastic bottles and glass vials for analysis of anions, cations, trace species, dissolved gases and microbial populations along the vertical profile. Samples of sediment from the bottom of the lakes were collected by means of depth corers and dredges. Measurements of CO2 and CH4 fluxes from the lake surface were also carried out by means of a floating accumulation chamber, simultaneously with measurements in air of concentration and isotopic composition of methane.


Sampling of lake water and dissolved gases. Picture by Sergio Calabrese.

On 29 June, a round table was held, with an open discussion about present and future research of volcanic lakes. The participants were able to describe and report their work experience on the two lakes in the previous days, so that everyone could have an all-encompassing idea of the measurements and samplings carried out on the lakes. The result of the discussion was to propose a joint publication of all the scientific data produced during the meeting and after the analysis of the collected samples, reflecting the performed multi-disciplinary and multi-methodological approaches and able to provide a complete characterization of the two lake environments. The creation of an internet space will encourage data and measures sharing. In the afternoon, the excursion to the nearby city of Matera (UNESCO site) took place.


Group picture in Matera. Picture by Jacopo Cabassi.