Earlier this week, a team of scientists brought back to attention the Campi Flegrei, Italy’s still “asleep” supervolcano. The researchers warned that this massive formation might be closer to its next eruption than initially believed as it may be reaching “a critical stage”.
Campi Flegrei or the Italian for “Burning Fields”
Campi Flegrei spreads across 38 square miles just west of the city of Naples. It has an enormous 7.4-mile caldera at its center and other 24 craters and several large volcanic edifices. Most of these are also hidden by the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
This “burning fields” is classified as a “supervolcano” and is believed to have formed some 200,000 years ago as the after effect of a cataclysmic volcanic collapse. This supervolcano, like most others in its category, is both massive and mostly flat, which led to broad fields of volcanic activity.
Campi Flegrei shows traces of two major eruptions in recent times. One of them occurred some 35,000 years ago and the other 12,000 years ago. Scientists also detected a “smaller eruption” that took place in 1538 and lasted about 8 days. This resulted in the appearance of the Monte Nuovo, literary the new mountain.
Now, the latest study claims that this supervolcano may be closer to its next eruption than believed. This massive and fiery cauldron’s pressure has been building up for over 67 years. It also isn’t showing signs of stopping or eliminating some of its steam through other methods.
“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,” said Christopher Kilburn.
He is a researcher part of the University College London Hazard Center and part of the new study. The British team was joined in its research by scientists from the Vesuvius Observatory in Naples. They published a paper in Nature Communications.
The researchers noted that the supervolcano has been gathering energy ever since the 1950’s. Over the past 67 years, it also had two periods of unrest. Initially, these latter were linked to a loss of energy. But in the Campi Flegrei case, this pressure seems to be only accumulating, not diminishing.
Kilburn states that his team doesn’t know when the supervolcano will erupt or even if it will do so. However, it does seem to be following a pattern leading it to a “critical stage”. The study findings to point out that the local seismicity is most likely to increase.
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