Campi Flegrei supervolcano raising anxiety among Italian residents

February 5, 2013NAPLES, ITALY A restive supervolcano west of Naples is raising nervousness in the local Italian population. The ground of the Campi Flegrei “burning fields,” also known as the Phlegraean Fields, has risen more in recent weeks than it has in a long time. This does not necessary indicate a heightened risk of an eruption, however, said Thomas Wiersberg, a scientific drilling expert for the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam. The Phlegraean Fields are a large caldera, or volcanic crater, lying mostly underwater off the Italian coast. The caldera is thought to have been formed by a massive eruption some 35,000 to 40,000 years ago. The last major eruption in the fields of boiling mud and sulphurous steam holes, one of a few dozen super volcanoes worldwide, occurred in 1538. Wiersberg is part of an international research team that began drilling into the ground not far from the caldera last summer to monitor possible early warning signs of an eruption. The team has drilled a pilot hole to a depth of 500 meters but no data has been gathered yet, Wiersberg said in an interview with dpa. Italy’s Department of Civil Protection recently raised the alert level for the Phlegraean Fields, where Wiersberg said the ground was rising by about three centimeters a month. There are concerns that a magma chamber under the fields, presumably connected to the one under Mount Vesuvius, east of Naples, is filling up, the rising pressure possibly heightening the danger of an eruption. As Wiersberg pointed out, however, the two episodes of considerable ground uplift since the 1960s were not followed by an eruption. The uplift in the early 1970s, about 1.50 meters in three years, was somewhat greater than the current one, he said. “Many houses cracked,” after which the ground deformation sharply subsided, Wiersberg said. “But it’s true that the uplift has increased again during the past two or three months.” An eruption could have serious consequences for the heavily populated region with knock-on effects for the whole of Europe. There could also be worldwide impact, for example in the form of climatic changes. No forecasts have been made thus far. Since super volcanoes seldom undergo massive eruptions, empirical data is lacking. “It’s easy to assert there’ll be an eruption sometime. That doesn’t help us, though. We need more specific information,” Wiersberg said. He said the drilling project aimed in part to monitor the Phlegraean Fields over the long term and gain more knowledge of what had occurred earlier in the super volcano. “First we’ve got to understand what’s happening under the surface,” Wiersberg said. Then it may be possible to say more about the likelihood of an eruption. Fears of nearby residents, and some scientists, that the drilling could “awaken” the super volcano have proved to be unfounded. “Technically, everything went smoothly. No additional volcanic activities were triggered, nor were there any problems with gases or fluids,” he noted. It has not yet been decided when the scientists will continue their project and begin drilling to a depth of 3km. “At the moment it’s mainly a financial question,” Wiersberg said. –News 24
This entry was posted in Earth Changes, Earth Watch, Earthquake Omens?, High-risk potential hazard zone, Magma Plume activity, Planetary Tremor Event, Potential Earthchange hotspot, Seismic tremors, Signs of Magnetic Field weakening, Time - Event Acceleration, Volcano Watch. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Campi Flegrei supervolcano raising anxiety among Italian residents

  1. Irene C says:

    A rising of 3 cm a month would have me a bit nervous too. It may not mean anything or it could result in a big kaboom. (Not being flippant here.) But I’m still not too sure about the safety in drilling. There haven’t been any problems – yet. But they haven’t reached the 3km mark yet. Just saying…

    I do have a question. In recent years, what has been the greatest deformation of Yellowstone?

    Like

    • From what I found there are places in the Yellowstone caldera that have risen by as much as 10 inches over the past few years. I searched under “Yellowstone deformation” and “yellowstone uplift” and found numerous sources ranging from user-friendly articles to technical articles from scientific journals. Can you imagine the pressure needed to raise an area roughly 35 by 45 miles by as much as 10 inches? Wow…

      Like

  2. To get a bit of perspective of what it would be like if this supervolcano blew, just look at the forecasts of the area that could be affected if Yellowstone blew. Yellowstone is in a relatively scarcely populated region of the US but its effects could be felt as far west as the coast and at least as far east as the Great Lakes region, with a zone of destruction centered on it of roughly fifty miles. Now put a monster like that into densely populated Europe. Southern Italy would be laid waste, and the ash from such an eruption would blanket the Balkans and most of Turkey; the effects would be dramatic all the way to the Caucasus. I can’t help but grin wryly whenever I read one of the experts trying to reassure people that there is no imminent danger – they always bring up the fact that they lack the empirical data to make any realistic forecast. It’s not just in America that the experts don’t want to go out on a limb with anything close to a prediction; scientists everywhere want to avoid being wrong in front of the public or worse their scientific peers, and they don’t want to bear the responsibility for causing a panic. So the rest of us are left in the dark…

    Like

    • Irene C says:

      And then there were those scientists that, I believe, were sued because they didn’t accurately forecast an earthquake. I really don’t blame them for not knowing whether to speak out or not speak out.

      Like

      • Yes, and they were in Italy, too! That’s the other side of the coin – it is nigh on impossible to predict when or when a big earthquake will strike. The only thing that scientists can do is give us probabilities. I can recall at least one instance of a scientists predicting an earthquake accurately, I believe in California, and possibly another in either China or Japan, but I would have to do some digging to find the references, and then they were most likely statistical flukes. I just find it somewhat amusing how quickly the geologists state that there’s no indications of an imminent eruption or earthquake – I guess you could call it gallows humor! Personally, I wish they could predict quakes accurately, because if they announced tonight that the Cascadia Subduction Zone (which is roughly 60-70 miles west of where I live on the Oregon coast) was going to produce a 9.0 quake tommorow I’d load up the car and hit the road!

        Like

      • David says:

        And then there were those scientists that have completely disappeared, and I don’t mean just a few either.

        Like

  3. niebo says:

    AGREE with DavidGreyBeard: “. . .they always bring up the fact that they lack the empirical data to make any realistic forecast,” but that doesn’t stop them from drilling “a pilot hole to a depth of 500 meters,” just cuz, well, you know, doodz, it’s JUST a supervolcano caldera, and it’s not doin’ nothin’ but just LAYIN’ around all over the place, boilin’ up stinkin’ mud and crappin’ up the surf, you know? And it AIN’T like there’s a bunch of other magmatipic or tectonical activity, like EVERYWHERE or nothin’, so it ain’t gonna matter none if we poke around a little. And even if, you know, we, like, punch through a chamber dome, there is maybe like almost NO chance that molten rock is under pressure or anything down that far, yeah? I mean, that’s crazy! Besides, you know, we’re from Germany anyway, and we got us a helo, so what do we care, right?

    Like

    • That was pretty good, niebo! It astounds me that anyone would want to drill holes in a supervolcano with inflating magma chamber! They have been doing similar things around the Paulina Caldera here in Oregon, trying to tap into new sources of geothermal energy. I’m telling you, it sounds like the plot for a SyFy channel disaster movie!

      Like

      • Irene C says:

        I agree davidgreybeard, I’ve seen a couple of SyFy channel movies like that.

        And neibo, I just want to say that I love reading your comments. They speak the truth and often give me a good chuckle. 🙂

        Like

    • That’s pretty funny, niebo! I can hear them now: “Ach, ve are zo very sorry zat ve voke up der supervolcano mit our drillink!”

      Like

  4. bel servizio da provare, complimenti per il blog 😉 Continuo a seguirvi, aspetto con ansia nuovi aggiornamenti!!

    Like

All comments are moderated. We reserve the right not to post any comment deemed defamatory, inappropriate, or spam.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s