by Raimonda Rossi
In the Agro Falerno, on the south-eastern slopes of the carbonate relief on the Mount Massico and between the municipalities of Mondragone and Carinola, you’re able to see some sub-circular valleys, some of which are completely hidden by the anthropic action. These valleys can be traced back to sinkholes, and we’d like to remember the Fossa Barbata, the Fossa del Ballerino and the Falciano Lake.
These pits are classified by geologists as sinkholes, mostly as deep piping sinkholes.
The morphology of these pits and ponds shows vertical walls and therefore they form a cylindrical shape which is compatible with the phenomena of sinking. The events that lead to the formation of the pits are considered quite recent and they probably happened during the Roman or Middle Age. Locals then lately gave a magical explanation to the circumstance handed down through various ancient tales. Thus was born the legend of the Paladin linked to the Roman mausoleum, a mysterious building because it is now in the open countryside and no longer linked to the consular road, the Via Appia, in relation to which it was built.
The depression called "Fossa Ballerino" is located about 2 km on the north-east of the town of Mondragone, 1 km on the south-east of the base of the slope of Monte Massico in a flat area. The “Fossa Barbata” is located a few tens of meters further south of the Fossa Ballerino. It has a sub-circular shape with a diameter of about 200 m. Along its southern edge, 3 strips of collapsed terraced surfaces are still preserved, although remodeled by anthropogenic action. The sinkhole of Lake Falciano is located in the center of a large depressed sub-circular area that deepens with sub-vertical walls right in correspondence with the lake. Also in this case the deposits of the Ignimbrite Campana formation are well visible along the walls. This sinkhole has an average diameter of about 250 m and its formation has allowed the outcrop of the aquifer which, together with the source present on its north-eastern edge and the waters of the Rio Fontanelle, its tributary and emissary, contribute to its direct feeding and disposal to avoid stagnation.
Caramanna G., Ciotoli G., Ferrelli L., Guerrieri L., Nisio S., Vita L, Vittori E., Relazioni tra strutture sismogenetiche, eventi sismici e fenomeni di sinkhole: un approccio metodologico in Appennino centrale.2006
Del Prete Sossio, De Riso Roberto, Santo Antonio Primo contributo su sinkholes di origine naturale in Campania, 2004
Scherillo A., Franco E., Di Girolamo P., Stanzione D., Vallante G.. Forme crateriche tra Mondragone e Vairano, 1965
Foglio geografico 171, Fotogramma 2579 del volo Italia dell’IGM del 1954