Project Impact

The project impact is defined as the multi-year influence on science and society (long run), and is different from the project outcomes, which are reached during the project development (short-medium run). In this light, the project impact will be assured in line with leading international practices in impact evaluation, project inputs, and outputs.

Each phase of the project will be associated with one or more indicators, characterized by specificity, measurability, achievability, relevance, and limitedness over time. Each indicator will be associated with a source of verification, as will each phase with one or more assumptions and threats. The step from inputs to outputs will be addressed by process evaluation, and the step from outcomes to impact-by-impact evaluation. It is necessary to keep these phases distinct so that if the desired impact is not achieved, it is possible to identify whether there has been an error in the implementation of the project. The outcomes of the project will be identified through key performance indicators, which can be divided into three categories: a) scientific excellence; b) potential industrial and economic impact; and c) public involvement and impact on public safety. The first category comprises scientific publications on peer-reviewed journals and high-formation initiatives. The second category includes reports describing new procedures, models, and proof of concepts developed within the project as well as involvement in public-private initiatives with potential industrial outcomes. The third refers to initiatives of results dissemination; formation and preparation initiatives (short courses, seminars, training); capacity building initiatives; workshops/roundtables/living-lab exercises. The reaching of the targeted outcomes contributes to the effective attainment of significant long-term measurable impacts, which can be considered for ex-post evaluation of the project results.

The main impact of this proposal results from a consistent advancement in quantitative understanding of how geophysical flows (i.e., pyroclastic density currents, debris avalanches, block and ash flows) behave in dry conditions, which actually is still far from being fully achieved. This is particularly true in the challenging step of transferring information from experiments into (numerical) models used for simulating geophysical flows via constitutive equations and boundary conditions. In our proposed work, the combination of experimental and numerical WPs will be able to relate selected important physical parameters (e.g., the grainsize of the granular material, the roughness of the substrate) to the way in which these flows propagate. We will use a multi-scale approach, from the particle-wall interaction scale via high-resolution observation and numerical modeling, to the bulk flow scale via the validation of the rheological models currently employed in shallow water-type hazard simulation tools.

In addition, this multidisciplinary approach with large scale experiments will contribute to solving one of the most debated questions on the matter, i.e., if a pore pressure due to air at the base of the granular flow is created and able to promote a self-sustaining of the flowing material. If observed during experiments at RU2 facilities, air pore pressure will be measured at different conditions and subsequently we will work on relating this important parameter to other variables measured in the experiments that can be simulated in the models in order to use the potential new relationships into the numerical models. All the above contributes to the final target of the project, which is to improve the simulation tools that the researchers and hazard practitioners’ communities employ.

The advancement of knowledge given by the project could have also a great impact in terms of evaluation of volcanic hazard for Civil Protection institutions. Expected results could be compared with natural geophysical flow in order to refresh hazard maps in volcanic systems where these processes are common.

One of the most important exploitations of the project regards the great advancement in the innovation of technologies used for experiments. By now, only very few laboratories over the world are able to perform the proposed large-scale experiments, and not all will be at the same technological level of the Unical laboratory after the improvements planned within this project. Indeed, the adaptation of the flume to dry conditions, the implementation with new sensors (e.g., pore pressure sensors) and the construction of a new hopper with a controlled/constrained material flow, will make the UniCal laboratory at the worldwide top for geophysical granular flows studies. The technological innovation expected with the project will be the trigger for the exchange of data resulting from experiments in different conditions and at different laboratories. The scientific “contamination” will contribute to collectively achieving the result of defining the different phases of a geophysical flow, from the trigger to the deposition of its material.

Internationalization of the research object of this proposal is given by the importance of the studied processes in terms of natural hazard. Geophysical flows are quite common in many parts of the world characterized by explosive volcanism (e.g., Central and South America, Southeastern Asia), where they can be triggered during (pyroclastic flows), or also hundreds-thousands of years after the eruptive events (e.g., debris avalanche). In these areas of the world, the hazard due to geophysical flows could be also related to an exposed population of millions of people (e.g., Mexico City). Within the importance of the matter, it is of paramount importance to contextualize the results within the international scientific context. The collaboration with Prof. Damiano Sarocchi (UASLP), a well-known expert on experiments on granular flows, will assure skills complementary to those of the proponing participants, able to raise the level of internationalization of the project.

By adopting mutual contamination of knowledge, the current project is based on collaboration between the different theoretical and methodological skills of the involved research areas (natural sciences, physical sciences, engineering). The concrete and abstract results of the project will be presented to the scientific community via publications in indexed and peer-reviewed first-class scientific

journals, and presentations at national congresses and conferences. Data measured in the experiments will be made available to the scientific communities in open-access data repositories (e.g., Zenodo) in order to stimulate

The results of the project will be disseminated to the scientific community also through a newly created open access and user-friendly website, where advances of the project will be periodically published. A broader audience will be reached with the sharing of results on newly created social media channels (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok) and on a dedicated YouTube channel where to publish videos of experiments held at the RU2 laboratories. Project outcomes will be also communicated to the various interested stakeholders through the involvement of the mass media and the organization of workshops and specific dissemination moments (e.g., press releases, Laboratory Open Days for students, Workshops for young researchers of other institutions/fields, School for PhD students and early-career researchers).

These strategic activities aim to share data, products, methods, experiences, good practices, recommendations, and guidelines with all the interlocutors potentially interested in the project, such as the community, economic subjects, political decision-makers, and National and regional civil protection.