Geology of Mar Piccolo, Taranto (southern Italy): the physical basis for remediation of a polluted marine area

Four 1:15,000 maps for the coastal area of Mar Piccolo (Taranto, southern Italy) are presented. The study area is a small, sheltered shallow marine basin of about 20 km2, located north of Taranto town. It contains some submarine, karstic freshwater springs (citri) that have determined the development of intensive aquaculture in the past. Now, the Mar Piccolo is a highly polluted area due to the presence of both military and industrial navy docks and various heavy industries located in proximal areas: (i) the ILVA steel plant in Taranto, the largest in Europe; (ii) the ENI oil refinery and (iii) the CEMENTIR, the largest cement and concrete plant in southern Italy. Many studies show that water and sediments are contaminated (heavy metals, isopropyl alcohol, polychlorinated biphenyl [PCB], etc.), and various remediation projects are now in preparation. In this study, we analyze the physical characteristics of the Mar Piccolo environment by producing several maps: a geological map; a geomorphological map; a bathy-morphological map and a map of the thickness of surficial sediment. All these maps are original products focused on the realization of a reliable geological picture for the Mar Piccolo area. They represent the first steps toward the detailed knowledge of the Mar Piccolo physical environment, which we consider to be a fundamental requirement for developing the most appropriate remediation techniques.