Raising Venice anthropogenically and uncle Scrooge's baloon

Giuseppe Gambolati

Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering
University of Padova

In the late 70’ and early 80’ Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck conceived the defence of Venice from the “acqua alta” through what we could called the ancestors or forefathers of MoSE, the project of mobile gates, and the project of anthropogenic uplift of Venice by seawater injection. While the former is well known and presently at an advanced stage of implementation, the latter is not yet at an execution stage and is the issue of the present communication. Uncle Scrooge planned to raise the city by placing a balloon below its foundation and inflating it with compressed air up to the wanted land elevation.

Our project is an evolution of Uncle Scrooge’s idea and makes use of seawater injected into a set of brackish aquifers lying at a 650-1000 m depth below the lagoon. Injecting water generates an overpressure which expands the injected formation with the expansion partially transferred from in situ to the lagoon bottom including Venice.

According to the present study based on a large amount of geological, hydrological and geomechanical data at an unprecedented level of accuracy and never used before, Venice could be raised by 25-30 cm over 10 years through 12 injection wells with the resulting differential displacements two or three orders of magnitude smaller than the most restrictive bound required for masonry, brick and stone structures, hence with no concern for the safety, stability and integrity of the architectural patrimony of the city.

The cost for implementation and maintenance of the injection system is only a small fraction of the MoSE cost while it has a negligible environmental impact on the lagoon ecosystem.


Giuseppe Gambolati is professor of Numerical Methods in Engineering in the School of Engineering of the University of Padova. He is the author of about 300 scientific papers in internationally refereed journals, books and proceedings, and two books of Numerical Analysis and Numerical Methods in Engineering and Applied Sciences which are used as textbooks for both undergraduate and graduate courses in the University of Padova. With Pietro Teatini he is the author the book “VENICE SHALL RISE AGAIN” (Elsevier, 100 pp, 2015) that provides an overview of the project to raise Venice by injecting seawater into a 650-1000 deep geologic formations underlying the lagoon.

He was the recipient of the 2008 IACMAG excellent contributions award for “significant contributions in research, academic activities and professional service in different regions of the globe”. He is FELLOW of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) for “his unique and seminal contributions to geomechanical aspects of subsurface fluid flow”. He was also appointed “Commendatore” of the order to the merit of the Italian Republic by the President Giorgio Napolitano.

His research and professional activity are mainly concerned with studies of natural and anthropogenic land subsidence, groundwater flow, and subsurface contaminant transport, and the development, validation and implementation of the corresponding numerical methods and models in real world problems.