Italy's Supervolcano Is More Deadly Than We Thought

 GETTY IMAGES

GETTY IMAGES

Hephaestus, also known as Vulcan, is an ancient Roman God.

In Latin, Vulcanus is the god of fire, which includes fire from volcanoes. The word “volcano” is thought to come from the island of Vulcano, located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily. The Romans believed that the volcano was the chimney of Vulcan’s workshop. The island itself was thought to come from the debris that came out of the furnace of the god. The Romans also believed that earthquakes occurred when Vulcan was working in his shop; creating godly weapons for the other deities. Well, Italy’s Supervolcano is also linked to ancient legends. People in Italy have said that since antiquity, the Italian supervolcano, known as the Campi Flegrei, has been associated with Hell and Underworld.

This smoking sulfurous landscape is one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world. One of the reasons is that at least 1 million people are living around it. Up until now, it has not been the topic of much worry. However, a new study in the journal Scientific Reports may have identified the source of the magma that is fueling the volcano. Worryingly, it shows that this volcano is much more dangerous than anyone truly anticipated.

 Pisciarelli fumaroles and mud pools from the Campi Flegrei caldera, near Naples/GETTY IMAGES

Pisciarelli fumaroles and mud pools from the Campi Flegrei caldera, near Naples/GETTY IMAGES

Under normal circumstances, experts and scientists can use seismic waves to identify and locate where the magma is with significant accuracy. Campi Flegrei has been asleep and quiet since the mid-1980’s, which means that it is more difficult to locate its origin and the molten horrors beneath.

An international team led by Dr. Luca De Siena at Aberdeen University decided to try and solve this puzzling mystery. The team used a specialized type of mathematical analysis and seismic data collected from the time it was last active: the mid-1980’s, and using these, they located a hot zone, just around 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) beneath a town near Naples, known as Pozzuli.

According to the team’s scientific reports, what they found is either a small batch of magma or worse, the molten top of a massive magma chamber that has spread its liquid fire deep beneath the surface. Either way, it is strong evidence that an active heat source exists and is contributing to the magma supply of one of the world’s most dangerous volcanos. But know that the story does not end there. Another mystery is the Campi Flegrei’s periodic and frightening inflation. In the period between 1982 and 1984, the ground within the crate expanded by 1.8 meters. A new study offers up an explanation as to why this inflation did not result in a volcanic eruption. One theory is based on the rock formation above the magma, which would have prevented it from breaching the surface. The magma would have been forced to spread out laterally and therefore, failed to erupt.

 The area surrounding Campi Flegrei/WIKIMEDIA

The area surrounding Campi Flegrei/WIKIMEDIA

Campi Flegrei remains an enigma. Since the formation of Campi Flegrei 40,000 years ago, it has had only a few violent eruptions.

One of the current concerns that researchers have is that Campi Flegrei is again, inflating. However, this time it is 24 times smaller than the 1980s inflation. As for now, volcanologists are not sure of what is happening, but a consensus can be made that this volcano has been bubbling towards a critical point since 2005. There is no doubt that the volcano will keep rising to become more and more dangerous. Dr. De Siena warns, “In case of a big one, it could affect our chances to live in Europe, immediately killing hundreds of thousands if not millions.”

“Ashes would cover the sun, possibly for days/months/years, affecting humanity, fauna, and flora in other continents.”
 SOURCE: 3BMETEO

SOURCE: 3BMETEO

The most worrying aspect of this volcano is that an eruption is almost impossible to predict and certainly impossible to prevent with our current technology. What we can do is prepare. Dr. De Luca says, 

“We must become conscious that a volcano eruption of this kind may completely change our way of living - and in the future will surely do."
“To mitigate this means to invest in technologies that allow humanity to survive and prosper even after.”

This sleeping giant, known to be the "big daddy" to Vesuvius (the volcano that wiped out Pompeii) is awakening, and it is definitely something that we need to keep an eye on.