Scientists Find Source of Italian Supervolcano

Rodiano Bonacci
Settembre 19, 2017

Scientists said this week a volcano in southern Italy might be getting ready to erupt.

An worldwide group of scientists warned of catastrophic consequences of a possible eruption of a supervolcano in southern Italy, which they said may be fueled by the so-called "hot zone" feeding the volcano.

The volcanic caldera is called Campi Flegrei, which last erupted centuries ago. It is a supervolcano capable of producing a Volcanic Explosivity Index Level 7 eruption that could have disastrous consequences for the entire region. Magnitude 8 is the highest on the scale.

In the 1980s, a spate of small earthquakes took place in the area after the injection of either magma or fluids in the shallower structure of the volcano. But, using seismological techniques, a team of Italian and US scientists believe they have located the "hot spot" that fed those events.

Now, using seismolgical techniques, scientists have identified the location of the "hot zone" that has been feeding the caldera.

Dr. Siena added that while the site is the most probable location of a small batch of magma, "it could also be the heated fluid-filled top of a wider magma chamber, located even deeper".

The new study is providing a new benchmark that could help scientists determine when and where volcanoes are going to explode.

The research likewise suggests that a 1-2 km-deep rock formation prevented the magma from rising to the surface in the 1980s.

The implications of the study aren't entirely understood yet, but the researchers believe the relatively small amount of seismic activity in the area since the 1980s suggests that pressure has been building up within Campi Flegrei, making it more unsafe.

The relevant study is led by Dr. Luca De Siena at the University of Aberdeen along with the University of Naples and the University of Texas at Austin.

De Siena explained that whatever activity that was produced under Pozzuoli in the 1980s has likely migrated elsewhere, which means that the danger no longer lies in the same spot.

The doctor noted that you could now characterize the supervolcano as "being like a boiling pot of soup beneath the surface".

Scientists cannot say exactly when the eruption will occur, however, emphasize that the volcano becomes more unsafe.

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