Feb 6—Super Volcano Alert at Phlegrain Fields of Naples in Italy

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A restive “super volcano” west of Naples is raising nervousness in the local Italian population. The ground of the Campi Flegrei (“burning fields”), also known as the Phlegraean Fields, has risen more in recent weeks than it has in a long time.¬† Location of Campi Flagrei is close to African-Eurasian plate boundaries.

Italy’s Deparment of Civil Protection recently raised the alert level for the Phlegraean Fields, where Wiersberg said the ground was rising by about three centimetres a month. There are concerns that a magma chamber under the fields – presumably connected to the one under Mount Vesuvius, east of Naples – is filling up, the rising pressure possibly heightening the danger of an eruption.

Wiersberg is part of an international research team that began drilling into the ground not far from the caldera last summer to monitor possible early warning signs of an eruption.

“Many houses cracked,” after which the ground deformation sharply subsided, Wiersberg said. “But it’s true that the uplift has increased again during the past two or three months.” An eruption could have serious consequences for the heavily populated region with knock-on effects for the whole of Europe. There could also be worldwide impact, for example in the form of climatic changes. No forecasts have been made thus far. Since super volcanoes seldom undergo massive eruptions, empirical data is lacking. “It’s easy to assert there’ll be an eruption sometime. That doesn’t help us, though. We need more specific information,” Wiersberg said. He said the drilling project aimed in part to monitor the Phlegraean Fields over the long term and gain more knowledge of what had occurred earlier in the super volcano. “First we’ve got to understand what’s happening under the surface,” Wiersberg said. Then it may be possible to say more about the likelihood of an eruption.

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Image by: Donarreiskoffer/ Wikimedia Commons