1Italy has an extremely complex territory and also a rich environmental heritage. Therefore, special instruments and models are indispensable for proper management and appraisal. Maps can be produced both in paper and in digital format, allowing the most diverse topics to be represented in simple patterns. They require no translation into other languages and use standardised instruments, and so are unlikely to cause any misunderstanding. A map can therefore be defined as a basic, introductory instrument for providing information concerning both the complexity and the singular components of a territory. As the study of geomorphosites (Panizza, 2001) and, more generally, of geosites, is a very recent development, the problem of cartographic representation has not yet been faced. Geosites should be shown in a way that helps the user to identify and understand them easily. Currently, however, they are generally shown without any use of specific symbols that would allow them to be identified immediately.
2Up to now investigations carried out on geomorphosites have been mostly focused on identification and classification. Likewise, methodologies used for geomorphosite census, assessment and card indexing in various regions of the world (Marchetti, 1999) do not emphasize the problems of mapping. Most of the maps so far produced make use of simple symbols for indicating the location of geomorphosites on a geographic, topographic or geological map. Their illustration and description is commonly achieved by means of exhaustive comments, sometimes accompanied by photographs collected in leaflets associated with the map. Therefore, the map representing them is, in most cases, just an index map. However, more advanced maps have reference symbols that are specific ideograms with a precise coded meaning, similar to those used in nature guides or on notices. These symbols allow an initial subdivision of geosites into various categories, under broad headings, which may interest the user.
3Starting from these remarks, within the framework of the co-funded Italian National Project PRIN entitled “Geosites in the Italian landscape: research, assessment and improvement” (Panizza & Piacente, 2002), the goals and methods for setting up a common methodology have already been defined. In particular, when mapping geomorphosites, efforts were made to identify and use symbols corresponding to the following semiotic criteria (Bertin, 1967): communicative immediacy, graphic originality and flexibility. The following remarks are the result of discussions, comparisons and tests carried out by some of the participants in this project, belonging to the network of five research centres (A. Ulzega, Sassari University; G. Brancucci and G. Pagliaga, Genova University; P. Coratza and M. Marchetti, Modena–Reggio Emilia University; A. Carton, Pavia University; O. Nesci, Urbino University; M. D’Andrea and A. Lisi, APAT Rome).
4Geomorphosites can occur singly or in groups and their outlines can take various forms and trends. Mappable geomorphosites can be divided into three types: areal, linear and punctiform. An areal geomorphosite is made up of a set of simple two-dimensional forms, such as a moraine amphitheatre. A linear geomorphosite is made up of one or more simple forms developed preferentially in a single direction, such as a canyon. A punctiform geomorphosite is a single form or object, for example, a pothole or erratic boulder. As a starting point, it has been decided that geomorphosite mapping can take the form of both paper and digital maps.
5Paper maps are still necessary for specialists, amateurs, students, tourists, and occasional users in order to have “practical” and widely available means of information at their disposal for use in the field, at any time (holidays, leisure time, etc.) and for various purposes (territorial planning, excursion guides, information on a territory). In addition, a document of this type can be useful for informing the public about geoconservation, since it allows each user (especially those who are not familiar with the problem) to have an “on the spot” interpretation of particular landforms, which otherwise might seem insignificant, and fully understand their deeper value.
6Scale is an extremely important point in mapping. From the cartographer’s point of view, a number of signs must be depicted in the limited space of a map, using symbols able to adequately describe the portion of territory represented at that particular scale (Bertin, 1967). As far as geomorphosites are concerned, a map can be at either a small or a large scale but it is opportune to have a limit between the two extremes. Maps at a 1:200,000 scale or less can be used as geomorphosite indexes, whereas those at larger scales can be used for showing geomorphosites in detail. The 1:200,000 scale seems to be suitable for mapping areas in Italy, considering its administrative subdivision at regional level. This scale allows an entire region to be represented on a manageable sheet with an appropriate overall view for use by public boards.
7On small-scale maps (less than 1:200,000) which should be considered prevalently as index maps, geomorphosites will be represented by small-dimension graphic symbols (e.g., dots, asterisks, squares, flags, etc.). Diversification of symbol shapes and colours may produce extra information for immediate comprehension. For example, the degree of interest or the value can be shown in different colours. On the map, each geomorphosite will be numbered progressively and the same numbering will be used in the corresponding legend. When a geomorphosite is inserted in the APAT (Agency for the Protection of the Environment and Technical Services) data bank (Brancucci et al., 2004), the legend will be accompanied also by its number/national code so that it will be in biunique correspondence with its relative census card.
8On large-scale maps, geomorphosites will be best shown by means of the traditional symbols used in detailed geomorphological maps. Only the symbols showing the form or set of forms making up a geomorphosite will be depicted, whereas all the other elements of the landscape will be omitted. The topographic basis and its scale will be selected on the basis of the goals of the documents and the dimensions of the object to be represented. Furthermore, on large-scale maps each geomorphosite will be numbered progressively and will find its reference in the corresponding legend denomination. As for geomorphosites inserted in the APAT data bank, their legend must also refer to their national number/code.
9A simplified version of a large-scale geomorphosite map is proposed as being accessible to everyone. There has been no change in description but the morphological symbols have been substituted by a pictorial part. The two documents are identified, the first as a paper map for specialists and the second as a paper map for non-specialists.
10When a geomorphosite is punctiform or linear, it is easy to choose which forms will be represented and what their relative symbols will be. It is, however, more difficult to choose the landscape elements when it is an areal type of geomorphosite, that is, when it is made up of several elementary forms. In these cases it is advisable to describe the geomorphosite and map the forms that are mentioned in the description as if they were key words for that specific subject. An example of this procedure is shown in figure 1 (Pellegrini et al., 2005).
Fig. 1 – Map of the areal geomorphosite named “Peduncolo di Sommo”, located in the Po Plain near the city of Pavia.
Fig. 1 – Carte du géomorphosite nommé « Pedonculo di Sommo », situé dans la vallée du Pô près de la ville de Pavie.
The elementary landforms to be mapped are those mentioned in the geomorphosite description (Pellegrini et al., 2005) and are considered as key words.
Les formes élémentaires à cartographier sont celles qui sont mentionnées dans la description du géomorphosite (Pellegrini et al., 2005) et sont considérées comme des mots clés.
11Figure 2 shows an example of a large-scale paper map for specialists. This map shows three geomorphosites in the Adamello Brenta Natural Park, in the upper valley of the R. Avio in the province of Brescia (Lombardy). Part of the map has been reproduced here without a topographic basis in order to emphasize the geomorphological graphics. The use of geomorphological symbols is limited to the mapping of single forms, which identify the geomorphosites. An example of a traditional geomorphological map and a corresponding geomorphosite map for specialists can be seen in the geomorphological map of the area shown in figure 2, contained in Baroni and Carton (1987). The meaning of the morphological symbols is explained in a single box on the same map.
Fig. 2 – Example of large-scale paper map for specialists and its legend.
Fig. 2 – Exemple de carte à grande échelle pour spécialistes et sa légende.
Three geomorphosites of the Adamello Nature Park, in the province of Brescia (Lombardy), are represented. The use of symbols is limited to showing the single forms, which together identify the three areal-type geomorphosites. In the printed version the meaning of the morphological symbols is explained in a separate box on the map itself.
Représentation de trois géomorphosites du Parc Naturel de l’Adamello, dans la province de Brescia (Lombardie). L’usage de symboles se limite à montrer les différentes formes, qui elles-mêmes identifient les trois géomorphosites. Dans la version imprimée, les symboles morphologiques sont expliqués dans un tableau séparé de la carte.
12The paper map for non-specialists (fig. 3) does not make use of geomorphological symbols and is designed to be easy for any user to understand, whilst still aiming to be an effective means of conveying scientific information. In order to attain this goal, the topographic background can be provided by existing documents, such as those used by Tourist Promotion Agencies. The use of road maps, with an opportunely modified scale (less than 1:200,000), is recommended since they are widely used by tourists and can be interpreted by most users. Geomorphosites are pinpointed by means of shading, or with a contour showing their extent. The use of colours in shading or in the box frame may be of some use in transmitting further information (reason for choice, degree of interest, etc.). Supplementary information is given regarding the location of the recommended inner or outer observation point of the geomorphosite (panoramic point), and the best lighting conditions. The latter aspect will be shown by means of an ideogram indicating the time of day when light conditions are most advantageous so that a visit can be planned in advance. The legend of the paper map for non-specialists (fig. 3) will contain a list of geomorphosites (order number and corresponding place name), description and photograph. Since we are dealing with the same map, the description will be the same as in the paper map for specialists described previously. The vocabulary may be simplified in the case of very specific nomenclature.
Fig. 3 – Excerpt from the paper map for non specialists of the Trento Region (Avanzini et al., 2005) and its legend.
Fig. 3 – Extrait de la carte de la Région du Trentin, pour non spécialistes (Avanzini et al., 2005).
A box shows the area where geomorphosites are located. The map also shows the best observation points inside and outside the geomorphosite. An ideogram shows the time of day when the light conditions are best for an excellent view.
Un rectangle montre la situation des géomorphosites. La carte indique également quels sont les meilleurs points de vue à l’intérieur et autour du géomorphosite. Un idéogramme montre le moment de la journée au cours duquel les conditions d’éclairage sont les meilleures pour garantir une vue optimale du site.
13The recommendations and mapping examples so far illustrated aim to provide the user with general directions on how to interpret geomorphosites on a map in various situations, and propose guidelines for establishing a common mapping standard. Some variation of the methods here proposed may be necessary when aspects of a strictly scientific nature must be made compatible with touristic and popularisation needs. Examples of total integration of the mapping procedures (paper map for specialists and paper map for non specialists) are offered by the many Geo-tourism maps published in Italy with the collaboration of local authority (Castaldini et al.; 2004, Coratza et al., 2004).
14Geomorphosite mapping by means of computer systems (GIS) allows the data to be used independently (CD-Rom) and on the internet. Availability of these maps through this medium is important for the public Boards for Territorial Management, and also for the general public. Digital geomorphosite mapping can introduce any user to territories geographically outside usual leisure areas. The digital medium would also be useful in an educational context for preparing thematic excursions selected on the basis of a set of queries. It would be helpful also to Agencies for the Promotion of Tourism, which could satisfy the demand for cultural excursion programmes in real time by selecting key themes identified by users and providing an instant brochure of specific maps. Digital geomorphosite mapping also has the obvious advantage of constant updating. A further point not to be underestimated is the reduced cost of this kind of product compared with a paper map, which can be affected by distribution problems. The scale problem is less important since digital information systems allow the reduction or amplification ratio to be automatically obtained, by choosing the most suitable one for each occasion. The accuracy of representation depends on the scale at which the data was mapped. In any case, as a reference point, the 1:200,000 scale should still be chosen as the boundary between index maps and analysis maps.
15Regarding small-scale maps (which can be used as index maps), geomorphosites will be represented by small-dimension symbols (e.g. dots). In this case it is not necessary to carry out explicit numbering since by “activating” each point, an information card adequately organised according to the needs of the purchaser or the user will appear. On this card, at least the name of the chosen geomorphosite, the reference number and the code of the APAT data bank will be contained, if it exists. For this kind of mapping, any topographic basis is acceptable. However, it is advisable to use simplified topographic bases, since they are more favoured by the public, or remote sensing imagery, ortho-photomaps etc.
16An example of the index map of the geomorphosites of the Emilia-Romagna Region is shown in figure 4, partially covered by a card. The dots indicate their distribution regionwide, while clicking on the dots allows the information card to be visualised. Data loading can be organised in order to carry out specific requests about the index map directly on the monitor, pinpointing which geomorphosites show specific characteristics, such as typology (punctiform, linear, areal), degree of interest, reason for selection, etc. The activation of one of the selected geomorphosites subsequently allows their precise location to be visualised and a photograph to be made accessible.
Fig 4 – Small-scale digital mapping of geomorphosites in the Emilia-Romagna Region.
Fig 4 – Carte digitale à petite échelle des géomorphosites de la Région Emilie-Romagne.
The activation of each geomorphosite will allow its respective information card to be visualised.
L’activation de chaque géomorphosite permet de visualiser leur fiche signalétique respective.
Fig. 5 – Example of query.
Fig. 5 – Exemple d’interrogation.
The activation of one of the selected geomorphosites allows access to its image and precise location (star in figure). The presence of an ideogram (shown on the photo) indicates the availability of a large-scale detailed map.
L’activation de l’un des géomorphosites sélectionnés permet d’accéder à sa photo et à sa localisation précise (étoile sur la carte). La présence d’un idéogramme (visible sur la photo) indique qu’une carte détaillée à grande échelle est disponible.
17Access to large-scale mapping occurs by passing through small-scale mapping. This will be possible if an ideogram appears on the photograph of a given geomorphosite, through which a link with detailed mapping can be carried out (see fig. 4 and fig. 5). This system will permit small-scale maps to be created in a relatively short time (positioning of the identified geomorphosites on a topographic basis and loading of their respective pictures) and the subsequent implementation of a data bank by means of detailed mapping. This second phase, however, will inevitably be more laborious. In large-scale mapping, geomorphosites are represented by means of morphological symbols (“electronically” drawn and georeferenced), which are used individually or in clusters. The final product is identical to the paper maps for specialists, but its use is made easier by the input provided by Geographical Information Systems (fig. 6). As a topographic basis Technical Regional Maps of Italy (scale 1:10,000) are recommended, because nearly all of them can now be acquired in digital format.
Fig. 6 – Example of large-scale digital map of the “Ghiacciaio di La Mare” geomorphosite.
Fig. 6 – Exemple de carte numérique à grande échelle du géomorphosite « Glacier de La Mare ».
The map can be activated by means of a pointer. The meaning of the morphological symbols is provided in pop-up information cards when the pointer touches the symbol.
La carte peut être activée au moyen d’un curseur. La signification des symboles géomorphologiques apparaît dans une bulle lors d’un pointement avec le curseur.
18The meaning of the morphological symbols appears on the monitor from time to time and is described in overprint (fig. 6), following map exploration by means of a pointer. The presence of a camera symbol on particular points of the large-scale map indicates the option for opening detailed pictures of single forms. Additional active keys link the large-scale geomorphosite map to the corresponding aerial photograph and an overall panoramic view. All the various screens, either digitally elaborated or traditionally produced, can be printed and become reference documents.
19The mapping of geomorphological sites is an important tool for territorial management as well as an effective means of communication and diffusion of knowledge, especially to raise estimony among the general public. Growing sensitivity to numerous features of the environment has led geomorphologists to tackle the problem of studying in depth, preserving, and appraising geomorphological heritage. There is a growing awareness of the importance of geomorphological sites and cultural sites in general concerning not only the scientific knowledge of a territory but also its env ronmental management and production activities. The scientific aspect has often added greater value to the appraisal of areas with a strong attraction for tourists.
20Knowledge regarding landforms and the processes that have shaped Italian landscapes requires particular care in representing geomorphological sites and their settings. It is highly desirable that the presence of geomorphosites or, more in general geosites, be reported and indicated on traditional tourist and hiking maps, together with other information on flora and fauna, historical and architectural aspects. In the immediate future, this research should focus on techniques for presenting and transferring scientific information to a vast audience. This process, however, cannot proceed on the basis of traditional, scientific in-depth study, which will continue its well-tested course by means of investigations and scientific debate among experts. Geomorphological site mapping exists in its own right because it is the most effective way to provide the user with direct, integrated information on specific objects of interest. The overall perception and information that the human eye acquires from a picture are much greater than those that can be deduced from a written text, given the same conditions and the same length of time. The text should have the task of providing the user with details that are not immediately indispensable.