A new study suggests that a volcano near Naples, Italy could be in the early stages of preparation for eruption large enough to change the landscape of the area.
Study published today in Science progress, can be of particular interest to 1.5 million people living within the boundaries of the volcanic complex. Fortunately for them, there is no indication that this massive event will happen soon. Volcanic eruptions like this can take thousands of years to develop, and there is no possibility for volcanologists to say when, or even if, this kind of eruption will happen. Nevertheless, it is fascinating and rare to look at the interior of one of the more dramatic phenomena on Earth.
In the studio, researchers have discovered that the melt stone (magma) under the Campi Flegrei volcano can be slowly built up to a massive eruption, one sufficient to exude a large depression on a landscape called caldera.
Since 1912, only seven caldera-collapse events have taken place around the world. Campi Flegrei had at least two huge eruptions in the shape of a caldera in its history, including 39,000 years ago that sent nearly 48 cubic miles of magma to the surface, and another 15,000 years, which released 9.6 cubic miles of magma. The other formed the current caldera in Campi Flegrei, which is over 8 miles across the road.
Today, the caldera is home to the regional park, towns, the suburbs of Naples, and decorated surfaces that occasionally shake with earthquakes and send gutters of sulfur gas into the air.
For this study, the researchers examined the stones of these eruption caldera, and 21 smaller eruptions from the same volcano, to determine how the magma under the Flegrei Camp changed over time.
"Understanding what is melting below the surface is so important to help us predict what volcanoes could do in the future," says Janine Kripper, a volcano at the Concord University in West Virginia. Cripner was not involved in the research. "It's truly astonishing research to see all this information about all these eruptions that are looking for a story."
"Campi Flegrei is very special," says the lead author and volcanologist Francesco Forni. Forni began researching the caldera formation cycle at Campi Flegrei as a doctor at ETH Zurich. For these geologists, these two calders are formed relatively recently, over the past 60,000 years.
This "young" era means that the Forni rocks were still relatively fresh and did not pass through harmful cycles of deformation and erosion, which could have destroyed valuable data. As it was, Campi Flegrei offered an extraordinary opportunity to look at the relatively new idea of the cycle of formation of the caldera.
"In the past, many studies in the Campi Flegrei focused on a unique eruption or a limited period of activity. This is the first study that takes into account the magma evolution of the system," says Forni.
In 1538 the eruption was built by a 403 feet high hill in one week
The last time the volcano Campi Flegrei had a significant eruption was in 1538 when the eruption built a high hill at a height of 403 meters in one week. Hill has become known as Monte Nuovo, or "new mountain". The Forni research shows that the conditions in this eruption were similar to those that preceded the caldera-forming eruption.
"Generally, magmas want to erupt. They do not like to accumulate in the bark," says Forni. Therefore, conditions such as temperature, pressure, gas content and the presence of water must be right for enough magma to build and eventually form a caldera. Forni thinks that these conditions may have been fulfilled after the eruption in 1538, which means a volcano Could At that time, another caldera cycle started.
But time is awkward when dealing with cycles that are durable far beyond any human life.
"At the moment, we have no restrictions at this time," says Forni. "We do not know when it will happen in the future." They know that the previous caldera cycle took 21,000 years, but there are no guarantees that the next one will take the same time. There is also the possibility that a volcano simply disappears before it creates another caldera. No more data, there is currently no way to tell.
"Volcanos are not clocks, either in terms of time or behavior," says Forni.
This does not mean that people should not try to prepare for the potential danger of eruption coming from the caldera.
"These large eruptions are extremely low probability," says Kripner. "But if that happens, we need to know as much as we can." This study contributes to the growing knowledge of Campi Flegrei.
Kripner and Forni point out that Campi Flegrei's activity is exceptionally carefully monitored by local authorities. They also point out that emergency planners are constantly looking at significantly lesser signs of eruptive activity on the volcano. Preparing for future eruptions, whether the colder caldera or something far smaller, is the fact of life for people living in that area.
"Because there is a city built in this caldera, even small eruptions can be very destructive," says Kripner. "Nearly 800 million people around the world live in the vicinity of the volcano, and in this case they live within one."