I amThe Flagreen Fields volcano near Naples is in danger of erupting. Italy, has never been so important. The Anglo-Italian study was published in the Friday, June 9 issue of the Journal Communication Earth and Environment, Warning of this danger directly exposing half a million people to floods of lava, ash and rock. “This is a very dangerous volcano,” warned Stefano Carlino, co-author of the study from University College London UCL and the Italian Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).
Christopher Kilburn, UCL’s head of works, moderates: “We’re not saying an eruption will happen, we’re saying the conditions are very favorable for an eruption. This is the first time in almost 500 years since this supervolcano hasn’t erupted since 1538.
The volcano’s energy, according to some hypotheses, may have contributed to the extinction of Neanderthal man when its eruption 30,000 years ago. A resurgence of activity in the early 1980s led to the evacuation of 40,000 residents, but the volcano has not been spoken of since.
High vibes from 2019
Still: Tens of thousands of small earthquakes since the 1950s have weakened the caldera, a flat-bottomed volcanic depression in which “parts have been tested almost to breaking point,” the study points out. The tremors, more intense since 2019, have disrupted underground layers and the town of Bosuvoli, where the volcano is located, has risen four meters over the decades.
The researchers point out that the effects of volcanic activity are “cumulative”: so the intensity of the activity does not need to increase significantly to increase the probability of an eruption. “A potential eruption may be preceded by relatively weak signals, such as modest ground uplift and a low number of earthquakes,” they note.
They cite the example of the Rabaul Caldera in Papua New Guinea, which erupted in 1994, and the tremors before it were much lower than the eruption ten years earlier.
“Be prepared for all eventualities”
However, the probability of a megaheat is “extremely low,” says Stefano Carlino. “There are a lot of small eruptions. And, even if the crust is rupturing, “the magma has to rise to the right place,” insists Christopher Kilburn.
Scientists, who are only interested in volcanoes awake after a long sleep, are using an innovative method that makes this flat volcano almost invisible to the naked eye, well-covered on the quiet coast of the Neapolitan basin. In the field, they measure both earthquakes and ground motions, as well as its rupture, to model the volcano’s behavior. In the lab, they observe the fracture of the rock. And while conventional approaches are content with statistical series, they go back in time to compare them with other episodes, other eruptions of similar volcanoes.
Read morePompeii: Battle Between Volcanologists and Archaeologists at the Foot of VesuviusStefano Carlino also recalls, “If you can’t be sure what will happen, it’s important to be prepared for all eventualities.” Because half a million people live in high-risk areas and 800,000 in low-risk areas.
In the event of an alert, the local authorities plan to evacuate people by public transport. The alert level – green, yellow, orange, red – is reviewed every month. “Currently in Pozzuoli, the alert level is yellow,” said Giordana Mobilio, spokeswoman for the municipality. “We have a fixed channel to communicate with the residents of the city who report an earthquake of more than 1.5 magnitude,” he underlines.
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