Beacon Transcript – An Italian supervolcano may be the cause of some serious future problems as the sleeping giant may be showing signs of reawakening.
Volcanos are one of the most dangerous natural phenomena. Besides the volcanic eruption, they may lead to other natural disasters, such as tsunami waves.
Supervolcanos are even more dangerous. These are caused by an accumulation of magma from the mantle in the crust. However, this magma is unable to break the crust.
As such, it remains stuck and begins building pressure. A large and growing magma pool will continue forming until the crust finally cracks. These pressure areas can occur in either subduction zones or hotspots.
Supervolcano eruptions can have important consequences on the environment. They have been calculated to spew massive amounts of volcanic material. These can cover widespread areas with volcanic ash and lava.
An Italian supervolcano has reportedly started showing signs of activity. It is located in the Campi Flegrei region. Its eight miles wide caldera lies beneath the Naples Bay.
According to the scientists monitoring the volcanic formation, it has been showing signs of activity. It is as yet unclear if they will result in an eruption.
Bologna, Italy National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology researchers have taken to studying the area. They were led by Giovanni Chiodini.
Research results were published earlier this week. The study was released in the Nature Communications journal on December 20.
Campi Flegrei, or the Phlegrean Fields, are the supervolcano’s caldera or crater. Its name translates to “burning fields”. It is a very accurate name as the crater is full of steam.
Besides sporting boiling mud, the caldera also houses smaller volcanos. It has become a quite popular tourist destination.
However, the Italian supervolcano has been showing signs of an awakening. The first such traces were registered in 2012. Since then, its explosive re-awakening has been hinted at more than once.
The recently released study also argues that the even might be quite soon. According to it, an explosion is potentially closer, rather than farther.
Chiodini, the lead, and his team, stress the need for constant monitoring. According to them, the recent Italian supervolcano activity might have two outcomes.
One would be that it could fizzle out. The increased activity could slow and dissipate before reaching a critical pressure.
Their other alternative is more serious as the supervolcano could come to erupt. The Bay of Naples area that hosts it houses about 500,000 permanent inhabitants.
The Italian supervolcano is believed to have contributed to the disappearance of the Neanderthal man. Its most famous eruption occurred some 39,000 years ago. It led to the formation of the current caldera.
A study released in 2010 also suggested that it might have led to a volcanic winter. This is believed to have been one of the causes of the Neanderthal extinction.
Its future eruption is not expected to have such a widespread effect. However, it will have a massive impact on the area and its surroundings.
An eruption could blanket in magma large parts of Southern Italy. It might also have global consequences. By spewing up massive ash quantities, it could alter the weather.
This would cause a worldwide effect that could last for years. The exact consequences of such an event are hard to determine.
An eruption in itself is difficult to predict. As Chiodini points out, volcanology is not an exact science. Still, the Italian authorities have taken some precautions.
They have raised the Italian supervolcano threat level. From its past green, it is now yellow. This means that it will be constantly monitored.
Although an eruption could not be prevented, exact data on the matter could help better predict it.
Image Source: Wikimedia