Modern sawing techniques employed in ornamental stones’ exploitation produce large amounts of slurry that can be potentially diffused into the environment by runoff water. Slurry produced by limestone and marble quarrying can impact local karst aquifers, negatively affecting the groundwater quality and generating a remarkable environmental and economic damage. A very representative case-study is that of the Apuan Alps (north-western Tuscany, Italy) because of the intensive marble quarrying activity. The Apuan Alps region extends over about 650 km2
; it hosts several quarries, known all over the world for the quality of the marble extracted, and a karst aquifer producing about 70,000 m3
/day of high-quality water used directly for domestic purposes almost without treatments. In addition, Apuan Alps are an extraordinary area of natural and cultural heritage hosting many caves (about 1200), karst springs and geosites of international and national interest. During intense rain events, carbonate slurry systematically reaches the karst springs, making them temporarily unsuitable for domestic uses. In addition, the deterioration of the water quality threatens all the hypogean fauna living in the caves. This paper provides preliminary insights of the hydrological and biological indicators that can offer information about the impact of the marble quarrying activities on groundwater resources, karst habitats and their biodiversity.
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