Research Geofisica

From circumterrestrial space to the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and inside the Earth, passing through its surface. The physics of the Earth, also known as Geophysics, deals with this. It is a very complex science, which studies conditions and phenomena (both natural and anthropogenic) often not reproducible in the laboratory.

The geophysics community of the UNISA Department of Physics is engaged in several research activities, both theoretical-numerical and experimental, in the context of various collaborations and numerous national and international projects.

  • Physical-mathematical modeling of the Earth ground deformation. The study of ground deformation is a powerful tool for investigating Earth’s behavior at various spatial and temporal scales, from the core to the crust, from slow tectonic processes to seismic, volcanic, and hydrological phenomena. The physical-mathematical modeling of the deformation sources and the dynamics of the deformation processes is performed with both analytical and numerical methods. These studies are also increasingly relevant to identify any precursors of geological disasters (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides). Responsible: prof. Antonella Amoruso, E-mail:
  • Deformation phenomenology in the seismic cycle. The seismic process is not limited to an earthquake event but includes the pre-seismic, co-seismic, post-seismic, and inter-seismic phases, collectively known as the seismic cycle. All phases of the seismic cycle produce (more or less slow) deformation. Their characteristics are diagnostic of the space-time evolution of large portions of the crust or the surroundings of the area where an earthquake occurred and involve the stress field and the physical properties of the Earth's crust. Responsible: prof. Luca Crescentini, E-Mail:
  • Study of earthquakes. The modern monitoring infrastructures, the quantity and quality of multiparametric data available today, together with the development of machine learning methods, allow us to deal with the scientific challenge of understanding the mechanisms of earthquake generation. One of the main challenges is to observe and model the physical processes that occur in the period preceding the earthquake rupture. This research topic is part of the more general strategy for the reduction of seismic risk. Responsible: Dr. Ortensia Amoroso, E-Mail:
  • Seismic imaging in tectonic and geo-resource exploitation areas. The diffusion of extraction and exploitation of georesources has made induced seismicity a topic of general interest. The physical conditions of the crust portion affected by industrial operations strongly influence the fracturing process. An example is the action of the fluids involved in geothermal energy extraction operations. In a very similar way in active tectonic areas, we speak of triggering earthquakes due to the presence of fluids. Imaging plays a primary role both in delineating the geometries of active faults and in estimating the mechanical properties of the propagation medium. Responsibles: prof. Paolo Capuano, E-Mail:, Dr. Ortensia Amoroso, E-Mail:
  • Deformation phenomenology in a volcanic environment. Volcanic activity includes various phases which do not always culminate in an eruption. The study of ground deformation allows the detection of underground movements of magma and/or magmatic fluids, their interaction with groundwater, the related heating/cooling processes of the rock, possible interactions between neighboring volcanoes and between volcanoes, and seismicity. Responsible: prof. Antonella Amoruso, E-mail:
  • Evolution of Earth’s ground deformation from SAR satellite data. Satellite SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) data are obtained by recording the portion of the outgoing microwave signal that the Earth's surface redirects back toward the radar antenna. Surface deformation is estimated from the interferograms produced by comparing the recordings carried out during pairs of satellite passages. The generation of the related time series is of particular importance for the study of various geophysical processes, including the seismic cycle, magma movements in volcanic areas, subsidence associated with the extraction of fluids from underground, and the sliding of glaciers. Responsible: prof. Antonella Amoruso, E-mail:
  • Multi-Risk Analysis. Georesources are widely exploited in our society, with enormous benefits for both the economy and communities. Nevertheless, with the benefits come risks and impacts. A multi-risk perspective allows us to identify, efficiently and accurately, the risk sources, structure possible interaction scenarios, and quantitatively assess their occurrence likelihood and possible impacts. The multi-risk approaches easily and comprehensively represent the environmental footprint of the technologies in a framework of sustainable development. prof. Paolo Capuano, E-Mail:
  • Science Communication. Today, more than ever, it is necessary to study and improve science communication techniques, both by re-evaluating student evaluation of meaning and relevance in science (Science Capital Teaching Approach) and by deepening the evaluation techniques of dissemination and communication activities with a scientific approach (Evidence-Based Science Communication). Responsibles: prof. Paolo Capuano, E-Mail:, Dr. Ortensia Amoroso, E-Mail:
  • Study of aerosol-cloud interactionsThe impact on the climate of natural and anthropogenic emissions into the atmosphere is characterised by significant uncertainties linked to the complexity of aerosols and their effects on the formation and lifetime of clouds and on the development of precipitation. Remote sensing observations from ground and satellite allow the classification of the types of aerosols and, through the estimation of their optical and microphysical properties, the study of their effect on cloud formation. This climate effect, called the indirect aerosol effect, represents one of the factors of greatest uncertainty in global climate models.
    Responsible person: prof. Fabio Madonna E-mail:
  • Amplification of climate change and extreme eventsUnderstanding and quantifying the effects of extreme climate events and the amplification of climate change in the most vulnerable areas of the planet is a key element for improving climate model predictions and implementing effective adaptation and mitigation strategies to contain environmental and economic damage. It is therefore essential to develop innovative methodologies for evaluating these phenomena, through physical-statistical methods by integrating multiple data sources, prioritising reference quality data, and providing a thorough uncertainty estimate.

Responsible person: prof. Fabio Madonna E-mail: