UCL News


UCL in the News: Firms in Vesuvius' shadow are not prepared for worst

14 January 2008

Michael Bradford, 'Business Insurance' Businesses and residents in the neighbourhood of Europe's most notorious volcano are ill-prepared for a potentially catastrophic eruption that experts say could occur at any time.

The next eruption of Mount Vesuvius near Naples, Italy may be impossible to predict, but experts agree that if it occurs anytime soon, the destruction will be enormous and much of the population in Naples and the surrounding region will face it with little preparation. …

"It definitely will erupt again because it is quite a young volcano," said Bill McGuire, director of the Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre. "It was continually erupting until 1944, then it became very quiet. It could be next year or it could be another 200 years." …

McGuire pointed out that the longer an eruption is delayed, the more intense it will be once it is unleashed.

A major blast, on the scale of the one that destroyed Pompeii in A.D. 79, would be cataclysmic in modern-day Naples and the surrounding region, he said. "It would be almost complete destruction."

An eruption of that magnitude is not likely in the near future, Mr. McGuire, added, because it takes a very long gestation period between eruptions for a volcano to build that kind of energy. "We would need about 2,000 years from 1944," he said. …