A new study has found that a dangerous supervolcano at Campi Flegrei is gearing up for a massive eruption, Newsweek reported.
While scientists say that the eruption isn’t imminent, an accumulation of magma is moving this supervolcano into a pre-eruption state. Scientists think the eruption could happen at “some undetermined point in the future,” the report states, based on a study published Wednesday in the Science Advances journal.
There are fewer than two dozen supervolcanoes in the world, which makes Campi Flegrei somewhat special.
The last time this volcano erupted, Henry VIII was the king of England.
While the 1538 eruption, known as Monte Nuovo, was relatively small, scientists noted that before that, the volcano had an eruption that matched a “mega-colossal” eruption at Yellowstone.
Scientists say the Campi Flegrei supervolcano has begun to show signs of life over the last 60 years, and they have been monitoring it closely for any signs of change.
Since the 1950s, the supervolcano has experienced three “major periods of unrest.”
Newsweek noted that the movement of magma has risen from depths of 5 miles to just 1.8 miles, raising concerns that the volcano is “reawakening.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) November 15, 2018
A large eruption could spell trouble for Italians as Campi Flegrei sits just nine miles west of Naples, home to about 1.5 million people.
The researchers, led by Francesca Forni from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, found that the volcano is amassing a large amount of magma beneath the surface and is moving into a new caldera cycle.
— Evan Kirstel (@evankirstel) November 15, 2018
The scientists said that when the explosion happens, it’s going to be big.
Their analysis found that the changes of temperature and water content of the magma are consistent with what happened in the Monte Nuovo eruption.
“We propose that the subvolcanic plumbing system at Campi Flegrei is currently entering a new build-up phase, potentially culminating, at some undetermined point in the future, in a large volume eruption,” the researchers said.
While not involved in the study, U.K. volcanologist Christopher Kilburn told Newsweek the findings of the study are consistent with changes observed before past eruptions.
“Should an eruption occur, the best guess is that it will have a size and behaviour similar to that seen during past 15,000 years or so — hence ranging from the size of the last eruption (Monte Nuovo, 1538, 0.02 cubic km) to something similar to the eruption of Vesuvius that overwhelmed Pompeii and Herculaneum (c. one cubic km),” Kilburn said.
“These are the scenarios being used to prepare mitigation plans,” he said.
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