Lago di Telese

Useful Information

Location: Southwestern outskirts of Elese Terme, follow Via Turistica del lago, turn left.
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstDoline
Light: n/a
Dimension: D=170-270 m, VR=26 m, A=50 m asl.
Guided tours:
Address: Tel: +39-0
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1349 collapse during the earthquake.


The Lago di Telese (Lake of Telese) is an extraordinary lake in several ways. First there is no visible inflow or outflow. Then it is almost circular and while it is only 26 m deep, it seems to be rather deep from the rim, there is no shallow shore. All those facts fit two possible explanations, it could be a volcanic crater filled with rain water or it could be a collapse doline filled with karst ground water.

Because of the nearby volcanic activities of Mount Vesuvius and the hot springs in Telese Terme many authors guessed it wasa volcanic crater. But geologic examinations revealed that it is actually a collapse doline or sinkhole. The collapse happened during the famous earthquake of 1349.

The karst plateau north of Telese Terme drains to the spring of the river Grassano, which then flows across the plains. The whole area is covered by sweetwater limestone, also known as travertine or tufa, a deposit from the limestone rich karst water. This deposit is covering the whole plain where Telese Terme is located. But the normal limestone with its karstification continues below the tufa and there are caves below the travertine filled with water. The lake is the result of a collapse of a huge cavern of this covered karst. The water is the karst water, the lake is actually a visible part of the ground water.

The surface level of Lago di Telese depends on the subterranen ground water level, or better, the ground water is underpressure and the level of the lake represents this pressure. The lake actually has an overflow, and if the ground water level rises the water flows out of the lake and into nearby RioCalore (Calore river). This makes the lake a spring. But during the last years the water level had been low and the overflow was never active, and so the water quality in thelake is rather poor. There are signs of an collapse, which means a chemical change of the water due to the lack of oxygen and too much fertlizercausing plant growth.

At the moment there is still a number of different fish living in the lake, including eel, crucian, and carp. It had been a refuge for migratory birds, but since some roads were built in the 1970s they moved to other places. The lake was also used fo swimming, but the steep shores are dangerous and some accidents happend. Because of this and the poor water quality, the nearby open-air swimming pool is a much better choice.