CNG Marks 60th Anniversary of Vajont Disaster with Landmark Event on Sustainability and Geology
In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the tragic Vajont Dam disaster, our Italian member CNG (Consiglio Nazionale dei Geologi), in collaboration with Centro Studi CNG, Ordine Geologi Del Veneto and Ordine Geologi del Friuli Venezia-Giulia, organised a significant event in Longarone, Italy, focusing on large-scale projects and addressing crucial aspects of technical, environmental, economic, and social sustainability. This gathering brought together over 200 participants on-site and aimed to revisit the lessons learned from the catastrophe, explore the evolving role of geologists in society, and consider the critical relationship between geological practices and public well-being.
The Vajont Dam disaster, a catastrophic landslide that occurred in September 1963, remains an indelible part of the collective memory of the geology profession. Geologists have since recognised the profound impact of their work on the safety and welfare of communities, reinforcing their commitment to social responsibility.
The history of Vajont is intrinsically intertwined with the evolution of the geology profession. Six decades later, the geology community continues to engage in discussions and analyses of the professional choices made by geologists at that time. Questions persist as to whether different decisions could have averted the disaster and saved lives.
David Govoni, President of the European Federation of Geologists (EFG), aptly summarised the Vajont tragedy, stating, “Il Vajont è stato il più grande tsunami in area interna in bacino artificiale” (Vajont was the largest inland tsunami in an artificial basin). President Govoni further highlighted the global notoriety of this event, underscoring the ongoing need for self-reflection and learning among geologists.
There is a consensus among Italian geologists that simply constructing infrastructure is insufficient. The professionals gathered at the conference unanimously emphasised that the first step is to thoroughly evaluate the context and the fragility of the surrounding terrain before embarking on any project. This commitment to comprehensive risk assessment and sustainability is a testament to the growth and evolution of the geology profession over the past six decades.
The Vajont Dam event was not only a commemoration of a tragic past but a reflection on the vital role geologists play in shaping a safer and more sustainable future for our communities. The conversations and insights gained during this event will undoubtedly continue to shape the practices and responsibilities of geologists in Italy and beyond.
Interviews with EFG President Mr. David Govoni, Mr. Arcangelo Francesco Violo, President of Consiglio Nazionale dei Geologi, Mr. Giorgio Giacchetti, President of Ordine dei Geologi del Veneto, Mr. Francesco Treu, President of Ordine Geologi Friuli Venezia Giulia: