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Volume 25 Issue 5 (May 2015)

GSA Today

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Article, pp. 4-9 | Full Text | PDF (2.9MB)

The smart city develops on geology: Comparing Rome and Naples

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Donatella de Rita (geologist)1*, Chrystina Häuber (classical archaeologist)2*

1 Dipartimento di Scienze, Università Roma Tre, Largo San Leonardo Murialdo 1-00146, Roma, Italy
2 Department für Geographie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Luisenstraße 37, 80333 München, Germany


A smart city is one that harmonizes with the geology of its territory and uses technology to develop sustainably. Until the Republican Times, Rome was a smart city. The ancient settlement of Rome benefitted from abundant natural resources. City expansion took place in such a way as to not substantially alter the morphological and geological features of the area; natural resources were managed so as to minimize the risks. The geology, together with prudent management, ensured Rome’s fortune. Naples, which developed in a similar geological context and at almost the same time, was exposed to more geological hazards and had access to fewer natural resources. This was fatal for the city that, while remaining one of the most important of the Mediterranean, did not become the capital of an empire as Rome did. The histories of Rome and Naples highlight the important role of geology in the development of a city and the making of its fortune. Over time, fast urban expansion, rapid population growth, and the overuse of resources led to increased hazards for both cities. As a result, the cities became unstable and fragile, and several natural processes resulted in disasters.

DOI: 10.1130/GSATG222A.1

Manuscript received 4 June 2014; accepted 23 Dec. 2014.