Francesco Sauro

Francesco Sauro is contracted Professor of Planetary Geology at the University of Bologna, with a peculiar interest in caves and subsurface exploration. Being a speleologist and geologist, he has explored tens of kilometers of caves in any different lithology on Earth. One of his main research focus is on ice caves in alpine glaciers and in the Greenland icecap, and ice deposits in karstic high altitude cave systems in the Alps and Central Asia.

Francesco exploring an ice cave in the Gorner Gletscher, Switzerland (ph Alessio Romeo)

Francesco exploring an ice cave in the Gorner Gletscher, Switzerland (ph Alessio Romeo)

“Since glaciology has started as a scientific discipline studying the icy lands of the Earth, few attention has been paid to what happens inside the glaciers. What intrigues me is the potential of exploration of the interior of the glaciers, both from the geographical prospective and from the several science aspects. Ice caves and moulins are evolving feature that we can monitor and track in time, a physical expression of the phenomena acting right know and of the melting triggers related to climate change. An ephemeral world that we need to understand much better.” Francesco Sauro, 2019.

Francesco and Joseph Cook exploring an ice cave on the Greenland Ice Sheet in October 2018 (ph Alessio Romeo).

Francesco and Joseph Cook exploring an ice cave on the Greenland Ice Sheet in October 2018 (ph Alessio Romeo).

Full bio:

Francesco Sauro is Professor of Planetary Geology at the University of Bologna, with a particular interest in caves and subsurface exploration. Being a speleologist and geologist, he has explored tens of kilometers of caves in any different lithology on Earth, including ice. He has lead over thirty expeditions in several countries including Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Philippines, India, Uzbekistan, Greenland, France, Spain, Poland, Greece. In these explorations he has performed more than 50 km of new cave surveys.

About thirty papers about his research and explorations have been published in peer reviewed scientific magazines and in proceedings of national and international conferences. His main research interests are focused on speleogenetic processes on Earth, Mars and the Moon, structural and stratigraphical controls on karst features, 3D cave surveys models and spatial analyses, sulfur isotopes in cave environment, speleothems geochronology, karst and weathering in quartzitic environment, ice caves and ice deposits in caves.

Since 2015 he has been selected as technical director of the course CAVES organized by the European Space Agency for training astronaut (from trained astronauts from ESA, NASA, JAXA, RUSCOSMOS and CSA) for operational and human behavior purposes in difficult cave environments. In 2016 he has been selected by the European Space Agency as Scientific Coordinator of the new traning course for the Astronauts related to Field Geology, PANGEA.

In 2014 he won the Rolex Award for Enterprise with an exploration project in the Guyana highlands of South America, and in 2016 he has been recognized by Time as one of the ten millennial that are having an impact in the future of science and planetary exploration.