One of the World's Most Dangerous Supervolcanoes: Campi Flegrei Could Erupt Sooner than Previously Thought

By KM Diaz, | May 16, 2017

Campi Flegrei is a massive volcanic field placed 9 miles to the west of Naples - home of over millions of people. (YouTube)

Campi Flegrei is a massive volcanic field placed 9 miles to the west of Naples - home of over millions of people. (YouTube)

The Campi Flegrei is considered to be one of the world's most dangerous supervolcanoes. It is located in southern Italy and has been showing signs of possible eruption over the past 67 years. A new research reveals that the volcano has stored energy during this period, doubling the chance to explode. Scientists have warned it could erupt sooner than previously thought.

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Campi Flegrei is a massive volcanic field placed 9 miles to the west of Naples - home of over millions of people. The volcano is made up of 24 craters and structures, appears as a broad depression on the surface of the land.

Prior study has revealed the area that surrounds Campi Flegrei has been moving upwards, lifting by 13 inches for the past 10 years. Although it is still impossible to find out when the volcano will erupt, scientists rely on the tell-tale signs to predict the risk.

For instance, if the area that surrounds the volcano will be stretched until it reached the breaking point, the magma will escape causing the surface to split and eruption may occur. However, the event does not always happen, the magma could be delayed before reaching the surface.

In the recent study of University College London (UCL) and the Vesuvius Observatory in Naples, scientists demonstrate how each period of unrest had influenced collective build-up of energy required to stretch the crust.

Scientists previously assumed that the crust of the volcano relaxed after every episode of unrest. But now, they were able to understand that every succeeding episode leads to the long-term accumulation of stress. Their findings present the first ever quantitative proof that Campi Flegrei is emerging in such conditions favorable to eruption.

Christopher Kilburn, the author of the study and director of the UCL Hazard Centre, said that observing the cracks and movements on the ground in Campi Flegrei is necessary to know whether the unrest increases the chance of an eruption, so authorities will also be prepared.

Kilburn also explained that by evaluating the probability of eruption, people should also understand that crust is becoming more broken up and the possibilities are increasing over time. Although the eruption is more likely to be 100 times smaller, the real problem is not knowing when the eruption will occur and evacuating those affected.

During the '70s and '80s, thousands of people residing near the Campi Flegrei were evacuated due to the concerns of volcanic eruptions. Kilburn suggests that scientists must understand the structure below to a depth of 1.8 miles, where the magma creates disturbances to predict more about Campi Flegrei.

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