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News > Science and Tech

Super Volcano Ready to Blow in Southern Italy: Researchers

  • The last eruption from the supervolcano Campi Flegrei, or Burning Fields, occurred 40,000 years ago.

    The last eruption from the supervolcano Campi Flegrei, or Burning Fields, occurred 40,000 years ago. | Photo: AFP

Published 24 September 2017

The researchers warn the volcano could erupt at any moment.

Scientists have warned that activity from the Campi Flegrei Volcano in southern Italy could indicate a possible eruption in the near future.

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Researchers from the University of Aberdeen, the University of Naples, and the University of Texas discovered a “hot zone” and irregular seismic data in the Neapolitan supervolcano.

A study led by Dr. Luca De Siena of the University of Aberdeen reported that the flow of magmatic bubble has become more active over the past few weeks, feeding into Campi Flegrei Volcano, transforming the area into a potential danger zone.

“One question that has puzzled scientists is where magma is located beneath the caldera, and our study provides the first evidence of a hot zone under the city of Pozzuoli that extends into the sea at a depth of 4 km,” said De Siena.

“While this is the most probable location of a small batch of magma, it could also be the heated fluid-filled top of a wider magma chamber, located even deeper.”

Scientific research suggests the flow of magma may have been blocked after an earthquake in 1980, shifted a 1-2 km stone formation into place and forced the stress from the magma to take a lateral route.

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The researchers are unsure of when exactly the volcano may erupt, but warn it could happen whenever the pressure from molten rock forces the ground above it to break.

“What this means in terms of the scale of any future eruption we cannot say, but there is no doubt that the volcano is becoming more dangerous,” De Siena said.

“During the last 30 years the behavior of the volcano has changed, with everything becoming hotter due to fluids permeating the entire caldera,” the researcher said.

“Whatever produced the activity under Pozzuoli in the 1980s has migrated somewhere else, so the danger doesn’t just lie in the same spot, it could now be much nearer to Naples which is more densely populated,” he said.

The last eruption from the supervolcano Campi Flegrei, or Burning Fields, occurred 40,000 years ago and is believed to have caused a “volcanic winter” where ashes and soot-covered an area of over 1.1 million square kms.

“This means that the risk from the caldera is no longer just in the center, but has migrated. Indeed, you can now characterize Campi Flegrei as being like a boiling pot of soup beneath the surface,” said De Siena.

It is said to have been the largest volcanic eruption to transpire in the last 200,000 years and may have played a key role in the extinction of the Neanderthals.

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