Mapping Rome’s Maze of Tunnels to Keep City From Collapsing

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Deep under the streets and buildings of Rome is a maze of tunnels and quarries that dates back to the very beginning of this ancient city.

In 2011, there were 44 incidents of streets or portions of structures collapsing into the quarries, a number that rose to 77 in 2012 and 83 to date in 2013.

To predict and prevent such collapses, George Mason University geoscientists Giuseppina Kysar Mattietti and scientists from the Center for Speleoarchaeological Research (Sotterranei di Roma) are mapping high-risk areas of the quarry system.

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Volcanism created the land Rome was built upon. These volcanic rocks, or tuff, were a boon to Rome’s earliest architects, who soon learned the tuff was strong and easy to carve into building blocks. Lighter, less compacted volcanic ash was used as a main ingredient in mortar.

I had heard the Romans used volcanic ash in their mortar, but had always wondered why they had started doing that. Well, there you go.

Via NBC News.

This entry was posted in History, Misplaced Places by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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