Campy Phlegray: Europe’s supervolcano prepares to erupt

Campi Flegrei, Italy’s largest volcano and one of the largest in the world, may be close to erupting. Earthquakes and ground movements have become more frequent over the past few years, and new models suggest that the volcano’s crust may be approaching rupture with the possibility of a future eruption.

Campy Phlegray looks like a depression 12 to 14 kilometers in diameter, part of which is in the sea. It is a supervolcano that has not erupted since 1538. However, it has been quite restless for the last 70 years. It had two-year bursts of activity in the ’50s, ’70s, and ’80s, and has had a slow but steady burst of activity in the last decade. The coastal town of Pozzuoli near the center of the caldera rose nearly 4 meters (13 feet), a phenomenon known as bradyseism. In April alone, 600 earthquakes were recorded, the highest monthly number on record.

Scientists used a model to describe Campy Phlegray’s behavior, both its earthquakes and its ascent. According to this, parts of the volcano’s crust have been stretched almost to the limit. This suggests that rupture is likely in the short term. “Our new study confirms that Campy Phlegray is approaching rupture. However, this does not mean an eruption is guaranteed. eruption will occur,” lead author Professor Christopher Kilburn of UCL Earth Sciences said in a statement .

Earthquakes indicate increasing pressure from below. The nature of the earthquakes suggests that the crust doesn’t react elastically; instead of stretching and bending, it breaks. These are not the strongest earthquakes in the area over the past few decades, but the crust has become weaker. The tensile strength – the maximum stress the material can withstand – of the crust today is about one-third of what it was in 1984.

“Our results show that parts of the volcano are getting weaker. This means that it can collapse even if the tearing stresses are less than during the last crisis 40 years ago,” added Dr. Nicola Alessandro Pino of the Vesuvius Observatory. who represents the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) in Naples.

The 1538 eruption occurred within eight days of Monday, September 30. The eruption began with the sea receding and the land rising dramatically, more than in decades, two days before the eruption. Monte Nuovo, the volcanic tube from which the eruption came, had fully formed by October 2. Monte Nuovo is one of the 24 craters and volcanic structures of the supervolcano. Most of them are under water.

Although the model is intriguing, there is a lot we don’t know about what is going on. It is very important to find out as much as we can – there are currently 360,000 people living on the roof of the supervolcano. Tracking its movements and being able to model it is crucial for their safety.

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