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Sustainability, Volume 15, Issue 4 (February-2 2023) – 1020 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Large-scale, high-input, and intensified agriculture poses threats to sustainable agroecosystems and their inherent biodiversity. Currently, farmers are not encouraged to broadly implement AECM programs covered by the EU Common Agricultural Policy due to the lack of structured information, overly complicated and unclear application procedures, and a high risk of sanctions. With NatApp, we introduce a digital tool that supports and guides farmers through the complete process of applying, implementing, and documenting nature conservation measures (AECM) on their fields in accordance with legal requirements in Germany. In this study, NatApp is compared to other digital farming tools focused on sustainable agriculture, and it is outlined how it can support a contribution to more sustainable agriculture. View this paper
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15 pages, 821 KiB  
Article
The Sustainability of Emerging Social Vulnerabilities: The Hikikomori Phenomenon in Southern Italy
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3869; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043869 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2406
Abstract
We can classify the Hikikomori phenomenon with the classification of “social pathology”: the Hikikomori phenomenon, and its spread in society, appear to be a real danger to the sustainability and resilience of the very society in which it occurs. This is because the [...] Read more.
We can classify the Hikikomori phenomenon with the classification of “social pathology”: the Hikikomori phenomenon, and its spread in society, appear to be a real danger to the sustainability and resilience of the very society in which it occurs. This is because the social isolation of an individual, especially if young and non-independent, impacts the community of reference in human, economic and psychological terms. Therefore, an analysis that investigates the social aspects of the Hikikomori phenomenon cannot disregard the fact that it can be said to be sustainable in the community of reference within which it occurs. This, without wishing to produce a judgment on the merits of the social pathology, is relevant to assessing the capacity of that community to sustain its presence and spread and the human and social costs required to contain it. The research aims to explore the Hikikomori phenomenon in the context of Southern Italy, considering it as an emerging social vulnerability that impacts very deeply onto the sustainability of a social, economic and community systems such as the Campania region one. The following paper therefore presents empirical work conducted in southern Italy, in the Campania region. The methodology used is Mixed Methods, and the research design is Sequential Exploratory. The respondents were reached through the help of the association Hikikomori Italia. Full article
23 pages, 2633 KiB  
Article
How to Promote Healthier and More Sustainable Food Choices: The Case of Portugal
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3868; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043868 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2523
Abstract
The demand for food has been increasing throughout the years, with notable preferences for animal-based foods. Considering the impact of the excessive animal-based consumption on the environment and public health, international organisations and the scientific literature have advised for a large-scale transition towards [...] Read more.
The demand for food has been increasing throughout the years, with notable preferences for animal-based foods. Considering the impact of the excessive animal-based consumption on the environment and public health, international organisations and the scientific literature have advised for a large-scale transition towards healthier and more sustainable food consumptions, i.e., a systematic decrease in animal-based consumption followed by an increase in plant-based consumption. However, to effectively promote healthier and more sustainable food choices such as plant-based ones, it is crucial to understand what motivates consumers’ food choices. Based on primary data (N = 1040), representative of the Portuguese population, it was possible to assess the potential motivators behind food choices, allowing to provide guidelines for policy decision. The impact of different socioeconomic characteristics, food consumption orientations, and food-related behaviours on food choices was estimated. In general, most of the drivers of plant-based meals were also motivators for reducing animal-based meals. The main findings demonstrate that the more environmentally conscious and informed the consumer, the more likely they are to choose more plant-based and less animal-based meals on a weekly basis; not only informed consumers, but consumers who actively look for information before buying choose more plant-based meals. Thus, not only information, but, more importantly, education regarding food characteristics and its impact on society should be the focus of policymakers. Understanding the drivers and barriers of food choices is vital for informing future food policy to promote healthier and more sustainable choices rich in plant-based foods, both for Portugal as well as for other European countries, particularly the southern ones with similar culture and where the Mediterranean diet is highly promoted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food, Insecurity, Consumption and Sustainable Behavior)
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18 pages, 4532 KiB  
Article
Changes in Microfine Particle Migration of Ionic Rare Earth Ores during Leaching
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3867; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043867 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1296
Abstract
The hydration mechanism between the leaching agent and ore surface during the leaching process of ionic rare earth ore is complicated, and the inter-particle bridge cementation is prone to fracture due to the existence of multiple forces and dispersion during ion adsorption and [...] Read more.
The hydration mechanism between the leaching agent and ore surface during the leaching process of ionic rare earth ore is complicated, and the inter-particle bridge cementation is prone to fracture due to the existence of multiple forces and dispersion during ion adsorption and exchange, resulting in migration and rearrangement of microfine particles, and precipitation at the pore throat, producing blockage phenomenon and affecting the leaching efficiency of ionic rare earths. In order to reveal the migration law of microfine particles during in situ leaching of ionic rare earth ores and to find suitable regulation methods, this paper investigates the effects of leaching agent mass concentration, viscosity, flow rate, hydraulic gradient, ore body height, and ore body water content on the migration of microfine particles. We compared ionic rare earth ores as raw ores and rare earth ores with particle sizes ranging from 0.075 to 0.09 mm using the laboratory column leaching method. The results showed that the migration of microfine particles during ionic rare earth ore leaching was an important factor affecting leaching efficiency. Under the action of external forces, the microfine particles tended to migrate with the leaching agent during the leaching process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems Restoration after Disturbances)
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20 pages, 2768 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Economic Performance of Multipurpose Collaborative Robots toward Skillful and Sustainable Viticultural Practices
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3866; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043866 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1595
Abstract
The increased cost of labor in modern viticulture stemming from the nature of operations that require physical strength and precision, coupled with labor shortages, poses a significant constraint in facilitating and scheduling seasonal activities. Therefore, autonomous collaborative robots present a potential solution for [...] Read more.
The increased cost of labor in modern viticulture stemming from the nature of operations that require physical strength and precision, coupled with labor shortages, poses a significant constraint in facilitating and scheduling seasonal activities. Therefore, autonomous collaborative robots present a potential solution for achieving sustainable development objectives and decreasing operational expenditures in agricultural operations. The current paper presents an economic assessment of collaborative robots (or cobots for short) in comparison to conventional labor for four different cultivars in Greece in a lifecycle costing methodological framework. The selected cultivars are Asyrtiko, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo, which are cultivated by two private wineries in the area of interest. All the relevant expenses of their annual production were distributed to agricultural operations, and eight scenarios were developed to compare conventional and cobot practices. The results indicate the great potential of cobots regarding specific viticultural operations such as weed control, pruning, herbiciding and topping. The adoption of cobots in these operations has the potential to contribute to sustainable agriculture by reducing labor costs and addressing labor shortages, while also increasing the efficiency and precision of these tasks. Nevertheless, the defoliation and tying operations appeared to be inefficient in most cases in comparison to conventional labor practices. Overall, the annual equivalent costs could be reduced by up to 11.53% using cobots, even though the projected lifetime of the cobots plays a significant role in the cost-effectiveness of autonomous robotic labor in viticulture. In conclusion, cobots could be instrumental in the Greek viticulture, integrating innovation and high-quality products toward sustainable agricultural development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Circular Bioeconomy)
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20 pages, 8574 KiB  
Article
Probabilistic Forecast and Risk Assessment of Flash Droughts Based on Numeric Weather Forecast: A Case Study in Zhejiang, China
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3865; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043865 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1452
Abstract
In recent years, flash droughts with a rapid onset and strong intensity have attracted extensive attention due to their impact on agriculture and ecosystems. However, there is still no feasible method for flash drought forecasting and early warning. This paper employs the thresholds [...] Read more.
In recent years, flash droughts with a rapid onset and strong intensity have attracted extensive attention due to their impact on agriculture and ecosystems. However, there is still no feasible method for flash drought forecasting and early warning. This paper employs the thresholds of several meteorological variables to identify flash droughts in Zhejiang Province, China, and build a probabilistic flash drought forecasting model through numeric weather forecast (NWF) and the generalized Bayesian model (GBM). The results show that the northern part of Zhejiang Province has the highest risk of flash drought. The NWF is a viable method to provide future information for flash drought forecasting and early warning, but its forecasting accuracy tends to decline with the increase in the lead time and is very limited when the lead time is over 5 days, especially for the precipitation forecast. Due to the low performance of the NWF, the flash drought forecast based on the raw NWF may be unreliable when the lead time is over 5 days. To solve this problem, probabilistic forecasting based on GBM is employed to quantify the uncertainty in the NWF and is tested through an example analysis. In the example analysis, it was found that the probability of a flash drought exceeds 30% from the probabilistic forecasting when the lead time is 12 days, while the deterministic forecasting via the raw NWF cannot identify a flash drought when the lead time is over 5 days. In conclusion, probabilistic forecasting can identify a potential flash drought earlier and can be used to evaluate the risk of a flash drought, which is conducive for the early warning of flash droughts and the development of response measures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Planning, Management and Utilization of Water Resources)
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19 pages, 2695 KiB  
Article
Analyzing Interdependencies among Influencing Factors in Smart Manufacturing
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3864; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043864 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1544
Abstract
The manufacturing industry has grown increasingly computerized and complex. Such changes are brought about mainly by adopting Industry 4.0 (I4) technologies. I4.0 promises a future of mass-producing highly individualized goods via responsive, autonomous, and cost-effective manufacturing operations. Adopting I4.0 technologies significantly improves a [...] Read more.
The manufacturing industry has grown increasingly computerized and complex. Such changes are brought about mainly by adopting Industry 4.0 (I4) technologies. I4.0 promises a future of mass-producing highly individualized goods via responsive, autonomous, and cost-effective manufacturing operations. Adopting I4.0 technologies significantly improves a company’s productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, innovation, sustainable management, and sustainability. As is well known, implementing I4.0 technologies results in smart and sustainable manufacturing outputs. Despite their significance, I4.0 technologies have received less attention in the literature, and their influence on MSOs is unknown. This study analyzes the factors influencing manufacturing strategy outputs (MSOs), adopting I4.0 technologies using the fuzzy DEMATEL method. This research utilizes the fuzzy DEMATEL method to address the vagueness and uncertainties inherent in human judgments. Furthermore, this method is utilized to determine the cause-and-effect relationship and analyze the interdependence of factors. It explores the interrelationships among MSO factors from the perspectives of academic and industry experts. Identifying cause-and-effect aspects boosts the market’s competitiveness and prioritizes them. The results demonstrated that cost, quality, and performance are the most influential factors on MSOs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Intelligence Applications for Industry 4.0)
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23 pages, 1911 KiB  
Article
Demystifying the Economic Growth and CO2 Nexus in Fujian’s Key Industries Based on Decoupling and LMDI Model
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3863; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043863 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1606
Abstract
Faced with peaking carbon emissions and carbon neutrality goals, low-carbon transformation has become an important part of China’s current economic construction. Fujian is one of the provinces with the fastest economic development in China and the core area of the 21st Century Maritime [...] Read more.
Faced with peaking carbon emissions and carbon neutrality goals, low-carbon transformation has become an important part of China’s current economic construction. Fujian is one of the provinces with the fastest economic development in China and the core area of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Therefore, its low-carbon economic development path is of great significance to China. This study focused on the key carbon emission industries in Fujian Province, using energy and carbon emission data from industrial sectors in Fujian Province from 2005 to 2019 to establish the Tapio decoupling model. Then, we decomposed the carbon emission drivers of each industry using the LMDI decomposition method, and finally analyzed the decoupling efforts made by each carbon emission driver on the basis of the Tapio decoupling model and LMDI decomposition model. The results showed that (1) carbon emissions in Fujian Province were mainly concentrated in the manufacturing industry and the electricity, heat, gas, water production and supply industries; (2) to date, some industries in Fujian Province have achieved the decoupling of carbon emissions, but the decoupling status was not stable; and (3) both energy structure and energy intensity have facilitated increasing decoupling efforts for carbon emissions. Industrial structure has contributed less to decoupling, and population size has not yet to make an impact on decoupling. Therefore, in the future, Fujian Province should increase expenditure on green technology research and development to improve energy efficiency and gradually use renewable energy to replace fossil energy, continue to adjust the industrial structure, and increase the government’s supervision on corporate carbon emissions. Full article
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33 pages, 8740 KiB  
Article
Optimal Design and Operation of an Off-Grid Hybrid Renewable Energy System in Nigeria’s Rural Residential Area, Using Fuzzy Logic and Optimization Techniques
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3862; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043862 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2845
Abstract
This study focuses on a technical and economic analysis of designing and operating an off-grid hybrid renewable energy system (HRES) in a rural community called Olooji, situated in Ogun state, Nigeria, as a case study. First, a size optimization model is developed on [...] Read more.
This study focuses on a technical and economic analysis of designing and operating an off-grid hybrid renewable energy system (HRES) in a rural community called Olooji, situated in Ogun state, Nigeria, as a case study. First, a size optimization model is developed on the basis of the novel metaheuristic particle swarm optimization (PSO) technique to determine the optimal configuration of the proposed off-grid system on the basis of the minimization of the levelized cost of electricity, by factoring in the local meteorological and electricity load data and details on the technical specification of the main components of the HRES. Second, a fuzzy-logic-controlled energy management system (EMS) is developed for the dynamic power control and energy storage of the proposed HRES, ensuring the optimal energy balance between the different multiple energy sources and the load at each hour of operation. The result of the size optimization model showed that an LCOE for implementing an HRES in the community would be 0.48 USD/kWh in a full-battery-capacity scenario and 1.17 USD/kWh in a half-battery-capacity scenario. The result from this study is important for quick decision-making and effective feasibility studies on the optimal technoeconomic synopsis of implementing minigrids in rural communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards Zero Emission and Energy Intelligent Buildings)
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18 pages, 5753 KiB  
Article
Method for Unloading Zonation Based on Strain per Unit Crack: Case Study of a Large-Scale Rocky Slope on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3861; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043861 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1104
Abstract
Distribution of unloading zones determines stability of slopes, and the unloading of a large-scale rocky slope formed by rapid river erosion and surface uplift on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau is particularly severe. Generally, unloading assessment relies on traditional methods, which are mainly related to [...] Read more.
Distribution of unloading zones determines stability of slopes, and the unloading of a large-scale rocky slope formed by rapid river erosion and surface uplift on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau is particularly severe. Generally, unloading assessment relies on traditional methods, which are mainly related to phenomena. However, unloading is a process of deformation and failure regarding the rock mass. Based on deformation and failure, strain rate and crack rate established through theoretical analysis can measure the relationship between accumulative width of open cracks and unloading deformation and the relationship between accumulative number of cracks and unloading failure, respectively. Thus, a method that combines strain rate and crack rate, namely strain per unit crack (i.e., SPUC), is proposed. The SPUC was applied to assess the unloading zones of a large-scale rocky slope on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau. The results show that the SPUC curve regularly varied and can be easily divided into three parts. Strong and weak unloading zones can be recognized from the SPUC curve. The reasonability of SPUC in the unloading zones assessment was confirmed by comparing and verifying with traditional methods. We found that SPUC has good universality and can compensate for the defect of using strain rate or crack rate to assess unloading zones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geological Hazards Monitoring and Prevention)
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17 pages, 1579 KiB  
Article
The Circular Economy Transformation of Airports: An Alternative Model for Retail Waste Management
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3860; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043860 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2299
Abstract
Airport terminals worldwide generate approximately 6 million tons of passenger waste annually. Increased awareness of climate change and global interventions for environmental sustainability requires a reassessment of airports’ current methods of waste management. This paper proposes a new design concept solution called circular [...] Read more.
Airport terminals worldwide generate approximately 6 million tons of passenger waste annually. Increased awareness of climate change and global interventions for environmental sustainability requires a reassessment of airports’ current methods of waste management. This paper proposes a new design concept solution called circular airport retail waste management (CAWM) for airport terminal retail waste processing, which aims to reduce and ideally eliminate airport waste ending up in landfill or incineration. Given the need for novelty and challenging the status-quo, the double diamond design process was adopted as the research method. The research began by collating the current practices of retail waste processing in airports via a literature review and field observations. Secondly, a critical analysis of the current processes was conducted to identify the intervention points. Thirdly, a concept solution was developed based on the circular economy (CE) 9R framework. Finally, the CAWM concept was delivered to airport waste management personnel for review. CAWM offers a structured way of airport retail waste management practices, including the segregation of nonrecyclable and recyclable waste (i.e., different bin designs, color coding, harmonization of waste colors, improved instructions and signage, various bin locations, training, and installing more liquid disposal and donation stations). Airports can leverage CAWM for greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness regarding airport terminal waste processing, such that more waste can be diverted from incineration and landfill to recovery, which will subsequently help airports achieve net-zero targets. This research contributes to the extant CE literature, especially in the aviation industry context, where the academic discourse surrounding this subject and its peculiarities are limited. Full article
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18 pages, 3854 KiB  
Article
Effects of Different Land Use Types on Soil Surface Temperature in the Heihe River Basin
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3859; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043859 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1299
Abstract
The micrometeorological elements, radiation budget, and surface energy distribution at four sites with land cover types of vegetable, orchard, maize, and desert in the Heihe River basin (HRB) from June 2012 to September 2012 are compared to investigate the differences in the land–atmosphere [...] Read more.
The micrometeorological elements, radiation budget, and surface energy distribution at four sites with land cover types of vegetable, orchard, maize, and desert in the Heihe River basin (HRB) from June 2012 to September 2012 are compared to investigate the differences in the land–atmosphere interaction between different surface types and the biophysical effects of land use and land cover change on surface temperature. The desert site has the highest soil surface temperature during both daytime and nighttime. The strongest cooling effects of maize, orchard, and vegetable are −20.43, −19.35, and −16.42 K, respectively, during daytime, and the average cooling effects are −1.38, −2.52, and −0.93 K, respectively, at nighttime. The differences in the surface cooling effects of the non-desert sites relative to the desert are attributed to the differences in albedo and incoming shortwave radiation, emissivity and incoming longwave radiation, sensible heat flux, latent heat flux, and soil surface heat flux, according to the direct decomposed temperature metric theory. The radiation terms have negative feedbacks on the cooling effects in the non-desert sites. Latent heat flux plays a key role in the differences in the surface temperature among the four sites during both daytime and nighttime, and the soil surface heat flux is also a main factor at night. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change, Land Use Change and Water Resources)
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20 pages, 7911 KiB  
Article
Effects of Freeze-Thaw Cycles on Permeability Behavior and Desiccation Cracking of Dalian Red Clay in China Considering Saline Intrusion
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3858; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043858 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1221
Abstract
Red clay with features of high liquid (plastic) limit, low permeability, medium-low compressibility and high strength is widely used in anti-seepage projects including roadbed, earth dam, tailings and landfill cover. This study investigates the hydraulic conductivity and propagation of desiccation cracks of compacted [...] Read more.
Red clay with features of high liquid (plastic) limit, low permeability, medium-low compressibility and high strength is widely used in anti-seepage projects including roadbed, earth dam, tailings and landfill cover. This study investigates the hydraulic conductivity and propagation of desiccation cracks of compacted red clay in Dalian, China, considering the effect of freeze-thaw (F-T) cycles and saline intrusion. A series of compacted specimens were subjected to different F-T cycles at various controlled salt concentration of 0.2% and 4%. The surface cracking initiation and propagation process of compacted specimens under wetting-drying (W-D) cycles were monitored by Digital Image Correlation technique. The results indicated that permeability coefficient of compacted specimens increased significantly after the first F-T cycle regardless of specimens with variable dry density and salt concentration. The relationship between the number of F-D cycles and permeability coefficient can be expressed as the exponential function for Dalin red clay. Dry density and Saline inhibits the desiccation cracks of compacted specimens under W-D cycles. However, the F-T cycles have a modest promoting effect on crack propagation on the surface of saturated red clay. This study analyzes the underlying formation mechanisms of desiccation cracking-inducing geohazards and provides some guidance for the long-term performance of infrastructures upon saline intrusion and F-T cycles for red clay. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Analysis and Modeling for Sustainable Geotechnical Engineering)
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15 pages, 266 KiB  
Article
Studying at a New Remote University Campus: Challenges and Strategies in Students’ Sustainable Self-Development
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3857; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043857 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1616
Abstract
In the context of higher education expansion, student enrolment in remote branch campuses within China has increased dramatically, but the challenges and strategies for the sustainability of these students are not adequately reflected in the literature. This study investigated students’ learning experiences at [...] Read more.
In the context of higher education expansion, student enrolment in remote branch campuses within China has increased dramatically, but the challenges and strategies for the sustainability of these students are not adequately reflected in the literature. This study investigated students’ learning experiences at a newly remote university campus, concentrating on the challenges students encounter and the strategies they adopt. We recruited 30 university students studying at a remote branch campus in China as the research subjects and employed interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore participants’ experiences. The findings indicated that students are challenged by the learning atmosphere, the number and quality of teachers, learning spaces, the campus and urban environment, and university and community culture. In response to various challenges, students tend to adopt self-adjustment strategies rather than seeking support from the institution. It can be concluded that students’ sustainability at the new remote branch campus is influenced by learning, environmental and culture-related factors, and students develop an attitude of helplessness. Strategic interventions should be adopted to enhance their learning experience and promote sustainable development. Full article
15 pages, 6427 KiB  
Article
Seismic Performance of an Exterior Joint between a Square Steel Tube Column and an H-Shape Steel Beam
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3856; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043856 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2661
Abstract
This study developed a 1:2 scale model using T-shape steel with one-side bolts to connect a square steel tube column to an H-shape steel beam for a quasi-static test to investigate the mechanical properties and seismic behavior of semi-rigid joints. Within the study [...] Read more.
This study developed a 1:2 scale model using T-shape steel with one-side bolts to connect a square steel tube column to an H-shape steel beam for a quasi-static test to investigate the mechanical properties and seismic behavior of semi-rigid joints. Within the study context, the joint’s failure characteristics, hysteresis characteristics, and strain tendency under cyclic load were determined. In addition, this research analyzed the force characteristics and seismic performance of such joints based on the test outcomes. In order to further study the seismic performance of such joints, ABAQUS finite element software was used to establish a numerical model and perform parametric analysis. The findings indicated that the force on both sides of the joint is inconsistent, resulting in different seismic performances on both sides of the joint. Selecting a T-shape steel connector significantly affects the seismic capacity of beam–column joints. The seismic capacity of joints can be improved by increasing the size of the T-shape steel. The stability of one-side bolts under repeated load is good, and their strain value rises steadily. Hence, this type of one-side bolt is suitable for connecting closed steel tube columns and other components. In general, the seismic performance of square steel tube column–H-shape steel beam joints with one-side bolts and a T-shape steel connection is good and is recommended for practical engineering. Full article
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18 pages, 10949 KiB  
Article
The Value of Traditional Fishing from the Perspective of Cultural Heritage: A Case Study of Seine Fishing in Ichinomiya-cho, Kujukuri-hama
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3855; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043855 - 20 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1778
Abstract
In this study, the significance of the preservation of traditional fishing is investigated in depth. Further, the practical value of traditional fishing and its intrinsic and irreplaceable nature is examined. This was achieved by utilizing the practices of seine fishing that take place [...] Read more.
In this study, the significance of the preservation of traditional fishing is investigated in depth. Further, the practical value of traditional fishing and its intrinsic and irreplaceable nature is examined. This was achieved by utilizing the practices of seine fishing that take place at Ichinomiya-cho, Kujukuri-hama, as a case study and also by clearly showing how the economic value of traditional fishing is derived and its fundamental nature. In addition, traditional fishing has a non-economic value in terms of nature conservation, local social maintenance, human relationship enhancement and local landscape formation. As such, the irreplaceable nature of traditional fishing in terms of work, culture and landscape is clarified in this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Tourism, Culture, and Heritage)
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14 pages, 2021 KiB  
Systematic Review
The Evaluation of Social Farming through Social Return on Investment: A Review
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3854; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043854 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1799
Abstract
In recent years, there has been a need for a shared methodology for evaluating social farming (SF) practices to verify not only their effectiveness but also their social and economic sustainability. The evaluation of SF has been highlighted using the methodology of the [...] Read more.
In recent years, there has been a need for a shared methodology for evaluating social farming (SF) practices to verify not only their effectiveness but also their social and economic sustainability. The evaluation of SF has been highlighted using the methodology of the social return on investment (SROI) due to the potential of such approach regarding the quantification of social impact. The main purpose of this study is to provide an overview, through a systematic review, of the application of SROI to SF experiences to check the results comparability, both in terms of outcomes standardization and comparisons between SROI ratios. The results first show some similarities on the construction of outcomes that allow for the initial comparability of the results. Secondly, all the indicators calculated in the articles report a social return value of social farming projects that varies approximately from EUR 2 to EUR 3 per euro invested. Critical issues remain regarding the application of this methodology to SF practices, regarding the number of the applications of SROI to SF, the process of stakeholder engagement and the construction of outcome. There is a need for more studies that apply SROI to SF experiences in order to standardize the process of analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Value Generation of Social Farming)
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25 pages, 2656 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Readiness of Government and Semi-Government Institutions in Qatar for Inclusive and Sustainable ICT Accessibility: Introducing the MARSAD Tool
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3853; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043853 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2224
Abstract
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has revolutionized the lives of persons with disabilities globally through opportunities for improved social inclusion. Technology enables persons with disabilities to access information, media, education, employment, and ICT-related assistive technologies. Decision makers must clearly understand the current state [...] Read more.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has revolutionized the lives of persons with disabilities globally through opportunities for improved social inclusion. Technology enables persons with disabilities to access information, media, education, employment, and ICT-related assistive technologies. Decision makers must clearly understand the current state of available ICT products and services, their compliance with international accessibility standards, and their usage within the country to propose effective inclusive policies and legislations. This paper presents an e-readiness assessment tool (called MARSAD) created and implemented from 2019 to 2021 to identify factors that influence the adoption of ICT accessibility for people with disabilities in Qatar. It aims to measure the national ICT accessibility adoption rate and develop key recommendations to improve digital access for persons with disabilities to access digital platforms of various Qatari government and semi-government institutions. The tool was administered to 14 institutions in the domains of education and culture. It was found that participating institutions had considerable gaps in their ICT infrastructure to offer an inclusive digital environment, which is in line with the principles of sustainability and SDG 11, to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. The participating institutions demonstrated a genuine willingness to invest in implementing the required changes based on the results acquired by conducting MARSAD. As a suggestion, the tool can be used as a foundation to conduct e-readiness assessment studies to offer accessible ICT products and services catering to the needs of persons with disabilities, women, children, and older persons. Full article
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31 pages, 6242 KiB  
Review
Chemical Composition and Health Attributes of Agri-Foods: A Scientific Overview on Black Foods
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3852; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043852 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3423
Abstract
Several kinds of food can be analyzed by the human sensory organs. In this review, we demonstrate the relation and importance of the color and bioactive molecules of food and their health effects. This work focuses on black foods, which can be found [...] Read more.
Several kinds of food can be analyzed by the human sensory organs. In this review, we demonstrate the relation and importance of the color and bioactive molecules of food and their health effects. This work focuses on black foods, which can be found in both natural and processed forms, present in our daily life for several years without being noticed. Besides, the chemistry underlying the black color of black foods has not yet been fully understood. More than 130 black foods are reported in the current review, which belong to 3 main groups and 12 sub-groups. In studied black foods, melanins and anthocyanins are the primary pigments, along with other pigments such as chlorophylls, carotenoids, and tannins. The health potential of black foods is also discussed. Due to their high concentration of phytochemical and phenolic compounds, black-colored foods are beneficial in preventing diseases and boosting the immune system. As a promising natural pigment and antioxidant compound source, black foods could be used as functional foods. Several questions on black foods are still open and need more investigation, especially the mechanisms by which the black color is formed in fruits and vegetables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture)
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21 pages, 4919 KiB  
Article
The Promotion Path of Pseudo and Real Human Settlements Environment Coupling Coordination in Resource-Based Cities
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3851; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043851 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1358
Abstract
A suitable living environment is the common aspiration of city residents and the inherent requirement of sustainable development. This paper takes 114 resource-based cities in China as the research objects, constructs a pseudo human settlement environment (PSH) system based on network data, and [...] Read more.
A suitable living environment is the common aspiration of city residents and the inherent requirement of sustainable development. This paper takes 114 resource-based cities in China as the research objects, constructs a pseudo human settlement environment (PSH) system based on network data, and constructs a real human settlement environment (RSH) system based on traditional data, measures the coupling coordination degree of the pseudo and real human settlement environment, and uses Fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) to analyze its improvement path. The conclusions are as follows: (1) The evaluation index of real human settlements in China’s resource-based cities continues to grow, and the evaluation index of pseudo human settlements increases first and then decreases. (2) The coupling coordination degree between the resource-based pseudo city and the real human settlement environment presents an inverted U-shaped change trend, and the overall distribution presents a three-level ladder-like distribution of east-central-west. (3) A single condition has a weak ability to explain the coupling coordination degree of human settlements; the coupling coordination degree of resource-based cities has formed three improvement paths: opening + finance driven model, opening + education + finance driven model, and education + finance driven model. Full article
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19 pages, 2549 KiB  
Article
Social–Ecological System Understanding of Land Degradation in Response to Land Use and Cover Changes in the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3850; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043850 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1950
Abstract
Land degradation is a major risk to the sustainability and functioning of socioecological systems (SES), especially in arid/semiarid regions. By understanding a system and its interlinkages, the socioecological approach offers an innovative way to explore degradation. This is achieved through a synergistic analytical [...] Read more.
Land degradation is a major risk to the sustainability and functioning of socioecological systems (SES), especially in arid/semiarid regions. By understanding a system and its interlinkages, the socioecological approach offers an innovative way to explore degradation. This is achieved through a synergistic analytical approach to improve the ability of identifying and understanding systems, predicting their behaviour, and modifying them to achieve the desired effects. This research provides a roadmap for an integrated interdisciplinary approach that is a critical factor in understanding the drivers of land degradation. It can be used to determine appropriate land management action. The aim of this study was, therefore, to apply an integrated SES approach to a degraded rural semiarid context to address the land degradation problem using the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality in South Africa as a case study. The Drive Pressure State Condition and four Responses (DPSCR4) framework (modified from Drive Pressure State Impact and Response (DPSIR)) was used as the SES to assess land degradation. Key informant interviews, focus group discussions with local pastoralists and traditional authorities, and the scientific literature were triangulated to systemically analyse DPSCR4. Land degradation neutrality (LDN) was integrated into the framework to draw conclusions on sustainable land management (SLM). The results show that the main anthropogenic activities driving land degradation are overgrazing, land tenure, poverty and disenfranchisement, unsustainable land use, and cropland abandonment, which favour bush encroachment. Natural factors such as topography, dispersive duplex soils, and climate variability and change predispose the district to soil erosion and gully formation. In combination with human activities, this exacerbates land degradation. The study recommends measures to enable informed integrated land use planning and management using the DPSCR4 and LDN frameworks to improve landscape conditions in rural semiarid regions and provide sustainable livelihoods for the rural poor in developing countries who depend on natural resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Dynamics and Environmental Change in Socioecological Systems)
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29 pages, 2889 KiB  
Review
Progress in Drainage Pipeline Condition Assessment and Deterioration Prediction Models
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3849; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043849 - 20 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1629
Abstract
The condition of drainage pipes greatly affects the urban environment and human health. However, it is difficult to carry out economical and efficient pipeline investigation and evaluation due to the location and structure of drainage pipes. Herein, the four most-commonly used drainage pipeline [...] Read more.
The condition of drainage pipes greatly affects the urban environment and human health. However, it is difficult to carry out economical and efficient pipeline investigation and evaluation due to the location and structure of drainage pipes. Herein, the four most-commonly used drainage pipeline evaluation standards have been synthesized and analyzed to summarize the deterioration and breakage patterns of drainage pipes. The common pipe breakage patterns are also summarized by integrating the literature and engineering experience. To systematically describe the condition of drainage pipes, a system of influencing factors for the condition of pipes, including physical, environmental, and operational factors, has been established, and the mechanism of action of each influencing factor has been summarized. Physical, statistical, and AI models and their corresponding representative models have been categorized, and the research progress of current mainstream drainage-pipe deterioration and breakage prediction models are reviewed in terms of their principles and progress in their application. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Engineering and Science)
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21 pages, 55327 KiB  
Article
Effects of Upward Reflective Film Applied to Window Glass on Indoor and Outdoor Thermal Environments in a Mid-Latitude City
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3848; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043848 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1195
Abstract
The effect of upward reflective film applied to a window on the thermal environment inside and outside the window was investigated, considering the reflection and transmission characteristics depending on the angle of incident solar radiation. In terms of controlling the amount of solar [...] Read more.
The effect of upward reflective film applied to a window on the thermal environment inside and outside the window was investigated, considering the reflection and transmission characteristics depending on the angle of incident solar radiation. In terms of controlling the amount of solar radiation on a building’s windows, it is sufficient if the reflected solar radiation returns upward and does not need to be retroreflected in the azimuthal direction. Therefore, in this study, only the incident angle was considered and treated in two dimensions. The amount of incident solar radiation on the vertical façade is greater around 9:00 and around 16:00. Therefore, it is important to take measures in the morning for east-facing windows and in the afternoon for west-facing windows. The indoor MRT in front of upward reflective film is lower than in front of a transparent window due to lower transmittance. The outdoor MRT in front of upward reflective film is suppressed to the same level as in front of a transparent window, because the downward reflectance does not increase as much as in transparent windows. Upward reflective films applied to windows can improve the indoor thermal environment without worsening the outdoor thermal environment compared to thermal barrier films. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Heat Island and Building Energy Sustainability)
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16 pages, 5466 KiB  
Article
An RSU Deployment Scheme for Vehicle-Infrastructure Cooperated Autonomous Driving
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3847; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043847 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1423
Abstract
For autonomous driving vehicles, there are currently some issues, such as limited environmental awareness and locally optimal decision-making. To increase the capacity of autonomous cars’ environmental awareness, computation, decision-making, control, and execution, intelligent roads must be constructed, and vehicle–infrastructure cooperative technology must be [...] Read more.
For autonomous driving vehicles, there are currently some issues, such as limited environmental awareness and locally optimal decision-making. To increase the capacity of autonomous cars’ environmental awareness, computation, decision-making, control, and execution, intelligent roads must be constructed, and vehicle–infrastructure cooperative technology must be used. The Roadside unit (RSU) deployment, a critical component of vehicle–infrastructure cooperative autonomous driving, has a direct impact on network performance, operation effects, and control accuracy. The current RSU deployment mostly uses the large-spacing and low-density concept because of the expensive installation and maintenance costs, which can accomplish the macroscopic and long-term communication functions but fall short of precision vehicle control. Given these challenges, this paper begins with the specific requirements to control intelligent vehicles in the cooperative vehicle–infrastructure environment. An RSU deployment scheme, based on the improved multi-objective quantum-behaved particle swarm optimization (MOQPSO) algorithm, is proposed. This RSU deployment scheme was based on the maximum coverage with time threshold problem (MCTTP), with the goal of minimizing the number of RSUs and maximizing vehicle coverage of communication and control services. Finally, utilizing the independently created open simulation platform (OSP) simulation system, the model and algorithm’s viability and effectiveness were assessed on the Nguyen–Dupuis road network. The findings demonstrate that the suggested RSU deployment scheme can enhance network performance and control the precision of vehicle–infrastructure coordination, and can serve as a general guide for the deployment of RSUs in the same application situation. Full article
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24 pages, 3481 KiB  
Article
Geographic Information Visualization and Sustainable Development of Low-Carbon Rural Slow Tourism under Artificial Intelligence
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3846; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043846 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1697
Abstract
This study conducts in-depth research on geographic information visualization and the sustainable development of low-carbon rural slow tourism under artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze and discuss the visualization of geographic information and the sustainable development of low-carbon slow tourism in rural areas. First, [...] Read more.
This study conducts in-depth research on geographic information visualization and the sustainable development of low-carbon rural slow tourism under artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze and discuss the visualization of geographic information and the sustainable development of low-carbon slow tourism in rural areas. First, the development options related to low-carbon tourism in rural areas are discussed. Then, a low-carbon rural slow tourism recommendation method based on AI and a low-carbon rural tourism scene recognition method based on Cross-Media Retrieval (CMR) data are proposed. Finally, the proposed scheme is tested. The test results show that the carbon dioxide emissions of one-day tourism projects account for less than 10% of the total tourism industry. From the proportion, it is found that air transport accounts for the largest proportion, more than 40%. With the development of time, the number of rural slow tourists in Guizhou has increased the most, while the number of rural slow tourists in Yunnan has increased to a lesser extent. In the K-means clustering model, the accuracy of scenario classification based on the semantic features of scene attributes is 5.26% higher than that of attribute likelihood vectors. On the Support Vector Machine classifier, the scene classification accuracy based on the semantic features of scene attributes is 19.2% higher than that of the scene classification based on attribute likelihood vector features. CMR techniques have also played a satisfying role in identifying rural tourism scenarios. They enable passengers to quickly identify tourist attractions to save preparation time and provide more flexible time for the tour process. The research results have made certain contributions to the sustainable development of low-carbon rural slow tourism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Rural Development through Tourism, Events, and Recreation)
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21 pages, 3537 KiB  
Article
Sustaining the Quality Development of German Vocational Education and Training in the Age of Digitalization: Challenges and Strategies
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3845; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043845 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3029
Abstract
The digital transformation of the working world has been bringing profound impacts on German vocational education and training (VET). This study analyzes the challenges that German VET is experiencing in the context of digitalization as well as the strategies to overcome these challenges. [...] Read more.
The digital transformation of the working world has been bringing profound impacts on German vocational education and training (VET). This study analyzes the challenges that German VET is experiencing in the context of digitalization as well as the strategies to overcome these challenges. Based on the concept of sustainable cooperation between vocational schools and companies, this study proposed a theoretical framework for preserving the sustainability of VET in the digital era from three dimensions: the capability of industrial service, attractiveness, and adaptability. Meanwhile, through the content analysis method applied to the study of official research and statistical reports, policy documents, journal articles, etc., three key challenges for German VET are found: the insufficient service capacity of German VET for industrial digitalization, the decreasing attractiveness of VET, and the low level of application of digital competencies. German federal agencies have developed multiple strategies in response, including (1) strengthening the capability of training digital talents through the modernization of the training regulations and framework curricula in 2021; (2) reshaping VET as a more promising track for individuals via information support and expanding development pathways; (3) enhancing the willingness to participate in and the capacity to provide vocational training of companies through financial measures; (4) promoting the digital transformation of VET through the financial support of projects and development of practical assistance. Full article
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2 pages, 155 KiB  
Editorial
Sustainable Supply Chain Management and Optimization
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3844; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043844 - 20 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1135
Abstract
Due to the complex and changing global trade environment and the intensification of economic and trade conflicts, enterprises have become more cautious about economic development [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Supply Chain Management and Optimization)
12 pages, 1944 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Mangrove Ecosystem Importance for Local Livelihoods in Different Landscapes: A Case Study of the Hau and Hoang Mai River Estuaries in Nghe An, North-Central Vietnam
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3843; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043843 - 20 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1423
Abstract
Mangrove ecosystems play an important role in local livelihoods in coastal regions of tropical and subtropical countries. However, in recent years, urbanisation changed the income structure of residents near mangroves. Different landscapes provide different job opportunities; thus, analysis of regional landscape patterns is [...] Read more.
Mangrove ecosystems play an important role in local livelihoods in coastal regions of tropical and subtropical countries. However, in recent years, urbanisation changed the income structure of residents near mangroves. Different landscapes provide different job opportunities; thus, analysis of regional landscape patterns is important for understanding income structures. In this study, surveys on the income structure and landscape patterns of the surrounding areas of three mangrove sites were conducted in the Hau and Hoang Mai River estuaries in Nghe An Province, North-Central Vietnam. The results reveal that both natural and socio-economic landscape components affected income structure. The major occupations in the study area were agriculture, including husbandry, sea fishing, and trading. Land morphology and river type were the major factors influencing the income from agriculture, while coastline morphology primarily affected income from sea fishing. Community-based trading was carried out in the study area; thus, the population inside each administrative unit was a significant factor increasing income, while the retail market size in an area had significant negative effects, potentially due to the increasing number of competitors. Our study aimed to evaluate mangrove ecosystem importance for local livelihoods in relation to landscape patterns, and the results contribute to urban planning based on the conservation and sustainable use of mangrove ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Landscape Management Impact on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)
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15 pages, 1571 KiB  
Article
Community Perception of Brownfield Regeneration through Urban Rewilding
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3842; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043842 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2238
Abstract
Brownfield regeneration using a rewilding approach could provide an opportunity to create new green spaces in our cities. However, studies on public perceptions of rewilding projects are limited. Thus, the purpose of this study was to better understand the public’s perspective of brownfield [...] Read more.
Brownfield regeneration using a rewilding approach could provide an opportunity to create new green spaces in our cities. However, studies on public perceptions of rewilding projects are limited. Thus, the purpose of this study was to better understand the public’s perspective of brownfield regeneration and the perceived advantages that these regenerations may give if regenerated as urban green areas as part of rewilding projects. An online survey containing 21 dichotomous and multiple-choice items was created to learn about people’s preferences for brownfield regeneration, the advantages of urban rewilding, and the value of biodiversity in urban contexts. Results show that most people are aware of the benefits of urban regeneration and receptive to the idea of rewilding for urban resilience. Our findings raise awareness of the possibility of regenerating abandoned lots to create accessible green spaces for our communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainability, Biodiversity and Conservation)
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23 pages, 2981 KiB  
Article
Organic Fertilization with Biofertilizer Alters the Physical and Chemical Characteristics of Young Cladodes of Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw.
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3841; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043841 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1260
Abstract
Cactus cladodes are consumed by humans in arid and semiarid regions of the world. The use of biofertilizers when cultivating cacti can improve the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil, as well as the cladodes’ productivity and physical-chemical quality. We evaluated the [...] Read more.
Cactus cladodes are consumed by humans in arid and semiarid regions of the world. The use of biofertilizers when cultivating cacti can improve the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil, as well as the cladodes’ productivity and physical-chemical quality. We evaluated the physical and physical-chemical qualities of different lengths of Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw. Cladodes were grown with different biofertilizer doses. The 3 × 5 factorial design employed corresponded to three cladode sizes (8–12, 12–16, and 16–20 cm) and five doses of biofertilizer (0, 5, 10, 15, and 20%) with three repetitions in a completely randomized design. Cladode characteristics were evaluated 40 days after emergence: diameter, fresh mass, soluble solids, pH, titratable acidity, soluble solid and titratable acidity ratio (SS/TA), ascorbic acid, phenolic compounds, total soluble sugars, chlorophyll a, b, and total, carotenoids, and respiration. The Opuntia stricta cladodes sized 16–20 cm exhibited better physical and physical-chemical qualities as well as better respiratory rates. The biofertilizer improved the cladodes’ physical and physical-chemical qualities, regardless of the cladode’s size. Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw. cladodes had levels of antioxidant compounds similar to those of some conventional vegetables, making them suitable for improving human health in arid environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agricultural Development Economics and Policy)
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16 pages, 9008 KiB  
Article
Application of Induced Polarization Method in Mineral Resource Exploration
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3840; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043840 - 20 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1960
Abstract
The search for hidden minerals with a large, buried depth depends on the guidance of geological and metallogenic theory, but it is difficult to master the geological characteristics of deep deposits. In this paper, taking a survey area as an example, the stimulated [...] Read more.
The search for hidden minerals with a large, buried depth depends on the guidance of geological and metallogenic theory, but it is difficult to master the geological characteristics of deep deposits. In this paper, taking a survey area as an example, the stimulated polarization geophysical method is used to obtain the information of deep minerals indirectly. Through the analysis and study of IP (induced polarization) anomaly and its characteristics in a tin polymetallic mining area, we delineate the IP anomaly distribution zone of metal ore, identify the distribution of polarized abnormal bodies by IP sounding, and determine the distribution of metallogenic fracture zones in the working area. Through the least square inversion of resistivity and polarizability, the spatial correspondence between the abnormal area of resistivity and polarizability and the location of ore bodies are obtained. The strategy of deep-mineral-induced polarization analysis adopted by us can provide a reliable geophysical basis for rapid deep geological prospecting. Full article
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