Campi Flegrei (Italy) volcano eruption possibly closer than thought
15 May 2017
The Campi Flegrei volcano in southern Italy may be closer to an eruption than previously thought according to new research at UCL and the Vesuvius Observatory in Naples. The volcano has been restless for 67 years, with two-year periods of unrest in the 1950s, 1970s and 1980s causing small, local earthquakes and ground uplift. Similar unrest occurred over 500 years ago, when it took a century to build up to an eruption in 1538. The authors of the study found that the unrest since the 1950s has had a cumulative effect, causing a build-up of energy in the crust and making the volcano more susceptible to eruption. Previously, it was generally thought that the energy needed to stretch the crust was eventually lost after each period of unrest.
“By studying how the ground is cracking and moving at Campi Flegrei, we think it may be approaching a critical stage where further unrest will increase the possibility of an eruption and it’s imperative that the authorities are prepared for this,” explained Dr Christopher Kilburn, Director of the UCL Hazard Centre.
“We don’t know when or if this long-term unrest will lead to an eruption but Campi Flegrei is following a trend we’ve seen when testing our model on other volcanoes, including Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, El Hierro in the Canary Islands, and Soufriere Hills on Montserrat in the Caribbean. We are getting closer to forecasting eruptions at volcanoes that have been quiet for generations by using detailed physical models to understand how the preceding unrest develops.”
The study has been published in the Nature Communications. Read the full story
- Kilburn, C.R.J., De Natale, G. and Carlino, S. (2017) ‘Progressive approach to eruption at Campi Flegrei caldera in southern Italy’ Nature Communications 2017: 8: 15312 DOI:10.1038/ncomms15312
- Dr Christopher Kilburn's academic profile
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- Testing the low-cost sensors at Campi Flegrei in Italy.