Data Set ID: 

Rock glaciers, Lombardy, Italy, Version 1

Lombardia is one of the administrative regions into which Italy is divided. The more eastern part of Italian sector of the Lepontine Alps and a large part of the Rhaetian Alps are located in this region.. The highest point is Bernina peak (4052 m asl). There are 305 glaciers, and the total glaciated area is about 113 sq km. The glaciers are more widespread in the northeastern part of the region (Ortles-Cevedale Group). In this region, 498 rock glaciers have been identified and classified according their degree of morphological activity-- 92 active (18%); 94 doubtful (19%); 27 complex (5%); and 285 inactive (58%). After the first work was carried out in the mid-1920s, this rock glacier inventory began at the end of 1987. This inventory was carried out by the analysis of color aerial photographs at 1-to-20.000 scale. In addition, for approximately 10% of the land forms, a geomorphological survey in the field was performed. Data are presented in the CAPS Version 1.0 CD-ROM, June 1998.

This is the most recent version of these data.

  • Frozen Ground > Active Layer > ACTIVE LAYER
  • Frozen Ground > Permafrost > PERMAFROST
  • Frozen Ground > Rock Glaciers > ROCK GLACIERS
Data Format(s):Not specified
Spatial Coverage:
N: 46.5, 
S: 45.833, 
E: 10.5, 
W: 9.3
Platform(s):Not specified
Spatial Resolution:Not SpecifiedSensor(s):Not specified
Temporal Coverage:
  • 1 January 1987 to 31 December 1997
Temporal ResolutionNot specifiedMetadata XML:View Metadata Record
Data Contributor(s):Mauro Guglielmin, Nicoletta Cannone, Claudio Smiraglia, Claudio Tellini

Geographic Coverage

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As a condition of using these data, you must cite the use of this data set using the following citation. For more information, see our Use and Copyright Web page.

Guglielmin, M., C. Smiraglia, N. Cannone, and C. Tellini 1998. Rock glaciers, Lombardy, Italy, Version 1. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NSIDC: National Snow and Ice Data Center. doi: [Date Accessed].

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This data set was first published on the 1998 CAPS CD.
The text for this document was taken unchanged from that CD.

Detailed Data Description

Coverage of data set

Study location:

Lombardia Regione, Central Italian Alps.

Geographic extent - Describe the corners of the box representing data coverage:

Northwestern latitude: 46.5 N
Northwestern longtitude: 9.3 E
Southeastern latitude: 45.833 N
Southeastern longtitude: 10.5 E

Period of investigation - Years covered

Inventory of rock glaciers 1987, 1997

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File and Directory Structure

The Lombardia is one of the regions in which Italy is divided from administrative point of view. In this region is comprised the more eastern part of Italian sector of the Lepontine Alps and a large part of the Rhaetian Alps. The highest point of this part of the Alps is Bernina Peak (4052 m a.s.l.) There are 305 glaciers and the total glaciated area is about 113 of sq. km. The glaciers are more widespread in the northeastern part of the region (Ortles-Cevedale Group). In this region have been identified 498 rock glaciers that have been classified according their degree of morphological activity in active (92, 18%), doubt (94, 19%), complex (27, 5%) and inactive (285, 58%). After the first works carried out in the mid 1920s by Nangeroni , at the end of 1987 started the work for the rock glaciers inventory. This inventory has been carried out by the analysis of color aerial photographs at 1:20.000 scale. In addition, for the approximately 10% of the land forms identified a geomorphological survey in the field was completed.

Since 1989 in Lombardy region, and, in particular, in Upper Valtellina (Sondrio), were carried out some geophysical investigations to define the geometry of the permafrost bodies included in rock glaciers (Guglielmin et Alii, 1994; Guglielmin, 1997) and some BTS (Bottom temperature of winter snow cover) measurements to map the permafrost occurence (Guglielmin & Tellini, 1992, 1994).

The rock glacier inventory of the Alps has been carried out with the same criteria used for the Italian Alps rock glaciers inventory.

The following parameters of each rock glacier were measured:

  1. 1. Location (geographic coordinates also respect the official italian cartography).
  2. Activity (active/inactive/complex and of uncertain activity).
  3. Size (length, width), m.
  4. Square, m2.
  5. Orientation.
  6. Mean slope of the landform (í)
  7. Maximum elevation of the landform , m a.s.l..
  8. Minimum elevation of the front, m a.s.l.
  9. Geomorphological location (cirque, slope, valley bottom, furrow)
  10. Lithology of the area that feeds the rock glacier (metamorphic, carbonate, volcanitic, plutonic and other rocks)
  11. Relationships with glacial bodies (glaciers, glacierets, snow banks, morainic landforms)
  12. Relationships with the vegetation (above or below the tree line and continuous meadows line).
  13. Description of the main surficial geomorphologic elements (meandering ridges and furrows, conical pits and so on).

The areas with the higher density of rock glaciers are located in the inner valleys of the Valtellina and in some valleys of the northward aspect of the Orobian Alps.

The lowest altitude of the active rock glaciers ranges from 2850 to 2150 m a.s.l, with a mean value of 2537 m a.s.l while the same value for inactive ones is of 2108 m a.s.l..

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Datacenter (please give name of center)

Home address of Mauro Guglielmin
Via Matteotti, 22 20035 Lissone (MI) Italy,
e-mail :

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References and Related Publications

Contacts and Acknowledgments

Details of Principal Investigators:

1. Mauro Guglielmin
2. Claudio Smiraglia
3. Nicoletta Cannone
4. Claudio Tellini


  1. Home address: Via G. Matteotti, 22, 20035, Lissone, Mi, Italy;
    Phone: +39 (2) 67655152;
  2. Dipartimento di Geologia , Universitê di Milano, Via Mangiagalli, 34 20100 milano
    Phone +39 (2) 23698253
    Fax +39 (2) 70638261
  3. Dipartimento di Ecologia del Territorio e degli Ambienti Terrestr,
    Universitê di Pavia, Via Sant'Epifanio, 14 27100 Pavia
    +39 (382) 504311
    Fax: +39 (382) 34240;
  4. Dipartimento di Geologia, Paleontologia e Geografia, viale delle Scienze,
    78 43100 Parma
    Phone: +39 (521) 905317
    Fax: +7 (521) 905305

Document Information

Please cite these data as follows:

Guglielmin, M. 1998. Rock glaciers, Lombardy, Italy. In: International Permafrost Association, Data and Information Working Group, comp. Circumpolar Active-Layer Permafrost System (CAPS), versi on 1.0. CD-ROM available from National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, Colorado: NSIDC, University of Colorado at Boulder.

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