Sediment Samples in the Italian Pre-Alps | Joshua G. Stein

LiDAR scan of one of the 15 chapels of the UNESCO designated Sacri Monte di Oropa site, located in the pre-alps above Biella at the headwaters of the Oropa stream. This is a scan of Chapel II, Birth of the Virgin Mary, constructed in 1659.

I’ve been collecting “samples,” both digital and material, that document the potential erosion of architecture and infrastructure and its distribution in local waterways. The digital samples, LiDAR scans with a limited range, seem to exacerbate or anticipate the future erosion of the region’s architectural heritage, contributing material to the waterways of Biella. The material samples are literal collections of sediment from the Oropa-Cervo stream bed as well as eroding architectural materials and sites of geological extraction.

Material sediment samples from various locations within the Oropa-Cervo watershed
Downstream from the Oropa Sanctuary, this bridge crosses the Oropa stream giving residents of Pralungo access to the pilgrimage trail that parallels the creek up to the Sanctuary. Due to the current drought, the stream levels are very low, but during a flood event, constructions like this stone bridge exert force of the stream and its flow while slowly giving in to the torrent’s powers of erosion. LiDAR scanning does not register water and struggles with vegetation, both of which fall out of this scan, leaving gaps in the data.
Farther down the Oropa, the mountain stream interacts more directly with human habitation and industry, becoming channeled by infrastructure and architecture. It also becomes an informal dump. In this scan we see the confluence of the Oropa and the Cervo, the yellow walls are those of an old textile mill, which although abandoned, is still leaking effluent into the river.