Scientists locate potential magma source in Italian supervolcano

September 18, 2017
Scientists locate potential magma source in Italian supervolcano
Scientists have now pinpointed the location of the hot zone where hot materials rose to feed the caldera during its last period of activity in the 1980s. Credit: University of Aberdeen

Scientists have found the first direct evidence of a so-called 'hot zone' feeding a supervolcano in southern Italy that experts say is nearing eruption conditions.

Campi Flegrei is a volcanic caldera to the west of Naples that last erupted centuries ago.

The area has been relatively quiet since the 1980s when the injection of either magma or fluids in the shallower structure of the volcano caused a series of small earthquakes.

Using seismological techniques, scientists have now pinpointed the location of the hot zone where hot materials rose to feed the caldera during this period.

The study was led by Dr Luca De Siena at the University of Aberdeen in conjunction with the INGV Osservatorio Vesuviano, the RISSC lab of the University of Naples, and the University of Texas at Austin. The research provides a benchmark that may help predict how and where future eruptions could strike.

"One question that has puzzled scientists is where magma is located beneath the caldera, and our study provides the first evidence of a hot zone under the city of Pozzuoli that extends into the sea at a depth of 4 km," Dr De Siena said.

"While this is the most probable location of a small batch of magma, it could also be the heated fluid-filled top of a wider magma chamber, located even deeper."

Dr De Siena's study suggests that magma was prevented from rising to the surface in the 1980s by the presence of a 1-2 km-deep rock formation that blocked its path, forcing it to release stress along a lateral route.

While the implications of this are still not fully understood, the relatively low amount of seismic activity in the area since the 1980s suggests that pressure is building within the caldera, making it more dangerous.

"During the last 30 years the behaviour of the volcano has changed, with everything becoming hotter due to fluids permeating the entire caldera," Dr De Siena explained.

"Whatever produced the activity under Pozzuoli in the 1980s has migrated somewhere else, so the danger doesn't just lie in the same spot, it could now be much nearer to Naples which is more densely populated.

"This means that the risk from the caldera is no longer just in the centre, but has migrated. Indeed, you can now characterise Campi Flegrei as being like a boiling pot of soup beneath the surface.

"What this means in terms of the scale of any future eruption we cannot say, but there is no doubt that the volcano is becoming more dangerous.

"The big question we have to answer now is if it is a big layer of that is rising to the surface, or something less worrying which could find its way to the out at sea."

Explore further: Campi Flegrei volcano eruption possibly closer than thought

More information: Luca De Siena et al. Source and dynamics of a volcanic caldera unrest: Campi Flegrei, 1983–84, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-08192-7

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IllKeepMine
1.6 / 5 (7) Sep 18, 2017
Oh NO. This must not happen. Italy must do something. If this volcano erupts it will set back all of the climate change CO2 savings back 100 years. .
jmessina666
5 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2017
Oh NO. This must not happen. Italy must do something. If this volcano erupts it will set back all of the climate change CO2 savings back 100 years. .

I think it will do more than set us back on savings. This is the volcano that nearly wiped out the Neanderthals. Now a day's you have to think of the prolonged winter it would cause and all the food not being able to grow. Mind you Organic and GMO will also grow different and may not be able to survive at all.
johnglaser26
2.3 / 5 (4) Sep 18, 2017
At this point, I'm pro volcano eruption. A prolonged winter would thin out the herd of humans that has overpopulated the Earth over the last century.
BernieGoetz
not rated yet Sep 18, 2017
Perhaps a catastrophic eruption could be avoided by drilling a well down to the magma chamber which might let the magma flow to the surface. Perhaps the well could be drilled in an area where a "cubic mile" of lava would not cause a problem.
rubrbsct
5 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2017
At this point, I'm pro volcano eruption. A prolonged winter would thin out the herd of humans that has overpopulated the Earth over the last century.

I would bet you would be one of them
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2017
I think it will do more than set us back on savings. This is the volcano that nearly wiped out the Neanderthals.

I'd need a reference to make that connection...
Now a day's you have to think of the prolonged winter it would cause and all the food not being able to grow. Mind you Organic and GMO will also grow different and may not be able to survive at all.

It would depend on how closely you tended your Organics, as well as what genetic modifications were made to the GMOs...
Shootist
2 / 5 (4) Sep 18, 2017
Oh NO. This must not happen. Italy must do something. If this volcano erupts it will set back all of the climate change CO2 savings back 100 years. .


LOLOL

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