Guest sciencey schist by David Middleton
Yes… I know it’s Pisa, not Pizza… But I’m trying a low-carb diet and I really miss pizza,
Among the 1,000+ UNESCO World Heritage sites that are about to be eroded away by a RCP8.5-fabricated
Noachian Anthropocene* Deluge is the Piazza del Duomo of Pisa, Italy. This is the site of one of the world’s longest-surviving civil engineering failures: The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
*Anthropocene: Fake word.
Construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa began in 1173 AD and it was completed in 1372 AD… 199 years. I wonder if it was behind schedule and over budget?
Funny thing, this is a hypothetical map of Pisa in the 5th Century AD (the 600’s)…
Pisa was surrounded by water in the 5th Century. It was a coastal city during Neolithic times and a key port during Greek and Roman times.
The origins of Pisa and Etruscan Pisa
Neolithic remains indicate that the mouth of the Arno was settled in very early times and most likely Ligurian colonists of Celtic origin settled here. We know that Pisa was a port of call for the Greeks and the legend of Pelops, who left the banks of the Alpheo, a river in the Peloponnese, for those of the Arno to found a new Pisa is possibly supported by Virgil in the 10th book of the Aeneid.
In the Etruscan period between the 6th and 3rd centuries B.C., Pisa, situated near the extreme northern border of Etruria, was influenced by Volterra but never became more than a modest village of fishermen and boat builders, probably limited by the instability of the coastline and the periodic floods of the Arno.
As Etruria was romanised, Pisa grew in importance and was an ally of Rome in the long wars against the Ligurians and the Carthaginians. The port (Portus Pisanus), situated between the mouth of the river (at that time near where San Piero a Grado stands today) and that portion of the coast now occupied by Livorno, constituted an ideal naval base for the Roman fleet in its expeditions against the Ligurians and the Gauls, and in the operations aimed at subjugating Corsica, Sardinia and various coastal zones of Spain. Pisa, as an ally of Rome, then became a colonia, a municipium and in the time of Octavianus Augustus (1st cent. B.C.) was known as Colonia Julia Pisana Obsequens. In the meanwhile the growth in population, the development of shipbuilding and trade – fostered by the establishment of the Via Aurelia and the Via Aemilia Scaurii as well as by the harbour – resulted in an expansion of the inhabited area which was soon surrounded by walls.
Today, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is about 10 km inland.
The Pisa coastal plain provides some excellent geological evidence for the Holocene Highstand (Sarti et al., 2015).
The regression of the Tuscany coast line since Roman times fits in very nicely with a falling sea level…
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is “only” about 3 m above sea level… Which is probably higher above sea level than when it was constructed. The nearest long-record tide gauge station in the PSMSL data set is for Genova (~150 Km). The Livorno station is closer (~25 km), but only goes back to 2001.
At 1 mm/yr, the Leaning Tower of Pisa should remain safe from climate change for at least 2,000 years… By which time, it will have already fallen over.
Live Science Culture
When Will the Leaning Tower of Pisa Fall Over?
By Live Science Staff | July 5, 2011
Experts say the famous tower at Pisa will lean for at least another 200 years. It may even stay upright well, almost upright forever. That’s all thanks to a restoration project, which brought the tower back from the brink of collapse a decade ago.
From the first moment of its construction on unstable subsurface soils in 1173, Pisa’s bell tower tilted farther and farther to the south. Its early-onset lean even influenced the way it was built, as its architects tried to compensate by angling the structure northward, resulting in its being banana-shaped.
A few ill-advised construction projects accelerated the Leaning Tower’s invisibly slow fall during the past couple of centuries; it tilted 5.5 degrees, its acutest angle ever, in 1990. By all calculations, the tower should have toppled at just 5.44 degrees, but fortunately it defied the predictions of computer models just long enough for engineers to come up with a fix.
Who would have guessed that the Leaning Tower of Pisa “defied the predictions of computer models”? I suppose anyone not involved in computer modeling would have guessed that it would defy the predictions of computer models… It seems that nearly everything defies the predictions of computer models, particularly the climate.
A final thought… If the Leaning Tower of Pisa was built today with the same civil engineering failures… It would probably be condemned and torn down. Since it’s older than schist, it’s an “archaeological resource” that must be preserved at all costs… Go figure.
Jameson, J., C. Strohmenger. Late Pleistocene to Holocene Sea-Level History of Qatar: Implications for Eustasy and Tectonics. AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90142 © 2012 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, April 22-25, 2012, Long Beach, California.
Reimann, Lena, Athanasios T. Vafeidis, Sally Brown, Jochen Hinkel, Richard S. J. Tol. Mediterranean UNESCO World Heritage at risk from coastal flooding and erosion due to sea-level rise. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06645-9
Sarti, G., Rossi, V., Amorosi, A., Bini, M., Giacomelli, S., Pappalardo, M., … Sammartino, I. (2015). Climatic signature of two mid–late Holocene fluvial incisions formed under sea-level highstand conditions (Pisa coastal plain, NW Tuscany, Italy). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 424, 183–195. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.PALAEO.2015.02.020