Petrofacies for the prediction of NOA content in rocks: application to the “Gronda di Genova” tunneling project

  • S. Botta
  • C. Avataneo
  • L. Barale
  • R. Compagnoni
  • R. Cossio
  • I. Marcelli
  • F. PianaEmail author
  • S. Tallone
  • F. Turci
Original Paper


Realization of large geo-engineering projects in rocks containing naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) must address several crucial geo-environmental issues, including the design of the construction site, the enforcement of health protection measures and the environmentally responsible spoil management. This leads to a compelling need to develop effective and standard procedures to evaluate the distribution and concentration of NOA in rock volumes. NOA petrofacies are here proposed as an innovative tool to evaluate the asbestos distribution and concentration in complex geological settings. NOA petrofacies are fundamental asbestos-bearing rock types, consisting in recurrent lithological and structural features controlling asbestos occurrence. Here we describe and discuss how the NOA petrofacies approach was utilized in a geo-environmental study for the evaluation of asbestos content in a complex meta-ophiolite suite, which will be crossed by the “Gronda di Genova” highway by-pass project (Genoa, NW Italy). NOA petrofacies were used to predict the distribution and relative abundance of NOA in geologically homogeneous zones characterized by the occurrence of specific NOA minerals.


Naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) Meta-ophiolite petrography Micro-Raman spectroscopy SEM-EDS asbestos quantitative analysis Ligurian Alps Geo-engineering 



This work was developed for setting up the geo-environmental model of the “Gronda di Genova” working plan [highway by-pass of Genoa city, Italy, designed by Autostrade per l’Italia, Rome (ASPI)], commissioned by Spea Engineering spa, Milan (Italy) to a consortium comprising the “G.Scansetti” Interdepartmental Center for Studies on Asbestos and Other Toxic Particulates of the University of Torino (Italy), the Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources of the National Research Council of Italy, Torino, and Gi-RES srl (a CNR spin-off company), Torino, under the contract no. 400006258/2018.

The Authors are indebted to Girolamo Belardi, Daniele Passeri and Francesca Trapasso (CNR-IGAG - Institute of Environmental Geology and Geoengineering, Roma) for designing and performing comminution of the samples. A research paper on this last complex and unexplored subject is being currently prepared.

Francesco Cipolli (Spea Engineering, Genova), Vittorio Boerio and Simona Polattini (Spea Engineering, Milano) are kindly acknowledged for their continuous support and feedback throughout all working stages.

Two anonymous reviewers are thanked for their helpful suggestions.

Supplementary material

10064_2019_1539_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (123 kb)
Online Resource 1 In the spreadsheet are listed the analyzed samples grouped into NOA petrofacies. The NOA concentration column (marked with a different color for each petrofacies) reports values obtained by SEM-EDS analyses expressed in mg/Kg for all samples, apart from those whose asbestos content is under the limit of detection (<LOD) of the used technique. The NOA concentration values in bold are those over the Italian law threshold of 1000 mg/kg. The asbestos amount has to be read “concentration ± error”; the error is not defined for samples in which less than 30 fibers were found. The number of explored fields is normally 100 (total explored area around 1 mm2) apart from some exceptions very rich in fibers. The last two columns report the % of asbestos due to chrysotile/fibrous antigorite or tremolite-actinolite amphibole occurrence. (XLSX 122 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gi-RES srl, CNR spin-off companyTorinoItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Geosciences and Earth ResourcesNational Research Council (CNR) of ItalyTorinoItaly
  3. 3.“G. Scansetti” Interdepartmental Center for Studies on Asbestos and Other Toxic ParticulatesUniversity of TorinoTorinoItaly
  4. 4.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of TorinoTorinoItaly
  5. 5.Department of ChemistryUniversity of TorinoTorinoItaly

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