Prof. Carlo F. Boni

Prof.-Boni---cascata…Our father was not an easy person but he was just, he choose truth over personal privileges. He was a man who always loved his family and who tought to help those who were close to him, without imposing his will on others. He was patient and calm; only arrogance, falsity and injustice drove him mad. He seldom accepted compromises, and this intransigence, at times perhaps exaggerated for the society we live in, damaged him personally. This stubbornness was one of the dominant features  shaping his work and life choices.

Since his very first experiences as a geologist, Carlo worked passionately in highway construction, in the search for water in Fiuggi, in the consultancies for the Abruzzo National Park, in collaboration with the Tiber Basin Authority, in the planning of underground water resources, in his research on carsic@ and quantitative hydrogeology. He was involved in the activities of the Ordine dei Geologi del Lazio, the association of professional geologists, because he believed the profession was not fully acknowledged and appreciated. These activities saw him involved both in academic research and in practical implementations of university scholarship.

The years passed in Africa on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Cooperation proved important. Once again he combined his academic teaching at the University of Maputo with the will to generate tangible benefits for Africa: he did this principally with several simple and small-scale projects rather than promoting huge engagements useless for local communities but that could have produced personal remuneration. He saw teaching in Mozambique as an opportunity to transfer important knowledge and to form local geologists that would, in future, enhance the development of their country. He installed several hand-pumps in villages both in Mozambique and Lesotho, improving the life and health of several communities.

The return to Italy, due to the educational requirements of us, the children, generated both happiness and sorrow. Besides the very intimate relationship with our mother, which started when both were very young and lasted until the end of his life, the University was always the focus of our father’s life. It was the context in which he felt at ease, where he conducted his struggles, where he endeavored to promote geological profession and knowledge. Quantitative hydrogeology, understood as the demanding task of personally measuring stream discharge, instead of relying solely on statistics or computer elaborations, was an expression of a person who some viewed as punctilious and shy, others as unreasonable, but who was always loved bu those who chose to be close to him, those who chose to listen to what he had to say and by those who respected the same ethical principles that always moved him.

He felt he was unjustly deprived of the recognition as ordinario, the highest position in italian academia. Rather than seeking compromises that could and produced formal and institutional recognition of his capacities, he preferred working with his numerous colleagues who he respected and appreciated so that one day his work would be acknowledged. The success of today’s conference is a clear manifestation that Carlo’s commitment and that of all those who believed in the same way of working, succeeded. This gathering proofs that innovative, serious, important work is  acknowledged in the long run.

Our hope is that the work that has been done so far, will be the begging of a different perspective on certain aspects of hydrogeology and that, on these grounds, more can be achieved for the benefit of technicians as well as ordinary citizens, as all users would gain from the optimization of water resources. One of the projects our father was unable to complete, because of his sudden departure, was a book that summarized the achievements of a life. For this reason, in collaboration with some of those with whom Carlo worked during is lifetime, we decided to open a web site to gather his work. We believe that this open space can become a forum used by those who intend pursuing studies in quantitative hydrogeology. (Translation of the speech by Emanuele Boni during the Conference in memory of Carlo F. Boni, 18 April 2008 “Quantitative hydrological analysis on a regional scale”)

Memories

…We dedicate this volume to the memory of a great man who is no longer with us: Professor Carlo Felice Boni, for all of us Carlo, the father of quantitative hydrogeology in Italy and Vice President of the Ordine dei Geologi of Lazio. It is a intensively sad moment for me and for those who knew him. I had the privilege of graduating and of working with him for nearly ten years and of sitting at the same table in the Consiglio dell’Ordine, appreciating his extraordinary qualities as professor, geologist and man. He was figure who stood out for his sincerity and integrity and for his widely acknowledged capacity to analyze and resolve concrete problems. (Manuela Ruisi, extract from Professione Geologo n. 15)

…On the 20th June I was moving up the Cismon river valley towards Passo Rolle with the students of the University of Rome3. We are going to monitor the Acqua Nera springs, captured by the Consorzio of acquedotti. The students were asked to identify the causes of the emergency and analyze possible alternative sources of water for the two aquifers the superficial and the underground one, less easily identificable. As I talk to these young geologists the images of Carlo appeared clearly as he addressed with animated and penetrating style the youngsters of my generation, and of many others over the years. Only with time I understand how advanced were his analysis and rigorous his method. Coherently with his character, his teaching was conducted on very concrete programs. He was patient with student but uncompromising during discussions with his colleagues and with engineers, especially when these defined analysis and projects that overlooked the geological and hydrogeological reality and, at times, experimental analysis. As if he were in front of me, I still picture his small figure, the penetrating gaze he had when meeting with experts, specialists and academic colleagues, and I amongst them.

In the 1960s Carlo and few others defined an hydrogeological perspective aimed at managing water resources based on a  quantitative analysis on a regional scale. On a personal level I never had with Carlo a symmetrical relationship because, even though we were in friendly terms, I always saw him as a teacher, until the very end, when he, close to retirement, continued his doctoral teaching and kept stimulating young students towards research.

A table lamp generates a spot light on the table which illuminates a map on which Carlo is writing with a pencil. Dense spirals of smoke from his pipe hide his figure and I can barely grasp his lips that, with a characteristic movement, communicate that he is thinking; in silence, his image vanishes as his thoughts live on. (Giuseppe Capelli, extract from Professione Geologo n. 15)

Ricordi d’Africa di O.Girotti

In ricordo di un amico di M. Parotto

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