Like the super volcano in Yellowstone National Park, experts have been preparing for the eruption of the Campi Flegrei volcano near the Bay of Naples, in Italy for some time. Now, a new study published in Scientific Reports has renewed fear that it could erupt very soon. Reportedly, the area has been “restless” since minor eruptions began in the 1950s, and now experts have pinpointed magma building up beneath the surface.
The eight-mile-wide circular formation, known as a caldera, last erupted in 1538. Researchers with the University of Aberdeen, the INGV Osservatorio Vesuviano, the RISSC lab of the University of Naples and the University of Texas at Austin used seismological techniques to determine when the volcano may erupt again. After scores of tests, they learned that there is a hot zone under the Italian city of Pozzuoli that extends into the sea. While the implications of this finding are not completely understood, it is suspected that the low amount of seismic activity in the area since the 1980s may mean pressure is building within the caldera, making it more dangerous.
Said Researcher Luca De Siena of the University of Aberdeen, “During the last 30 years the behavior of the volcano has changed, with everything becoming hotter due to fluids permeating the entire caldera.” De Siena’s main concern is that the entire region around Naples would be impacted by its eruption. This is because the underground network of chambers that feed magma into the volcano extend more than 100 square kilometers outside of suburban areas in Naples. “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,” De Siena said.
“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,” De Siena added. “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.”
Co-author Dr. Christopher Kilburn, director of the University College London Hazard Center, is certain an eruption is imminent. He said, “By studying how the ground is cracking and moving at Campi Flegrei, we think it may be approaching a critical stage where further unrest will increase the possibility of an eruption, and it’s imperative that the authorities are prepared for this.” Researchers say citizens should make emergency preparations in case the Campi Flegrei volcano erupts again.