Italian supervolcano could possibly erupt for first time in 485 years
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A supervolcano could be set to erupt, experts have warned.
It's probably not quite the news you were hoping for as you ease into the weekend, but here it is.
Located just a few miles from Napes, the Campi Flegrei volcano in southern Italy has been showing signs that an eruption could be on the cards.
And if the scientists are correct, it would be the first in the past 485 years, with the last eruption way back in 1538.
Any kind of reaction could see the 360,000 inhabitants of Campi Flegrei forced to evacuate their homes.
But while scientists aren't expecting an explosion anytime soon, they are prepared for anything.
In a study published in Nature’s Communications Earth & Environment journal, researchers from UCL (University College London) and Italy’s National Research Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) explained what they had found during their study into the supervolcano.
Looking back over the past 70 years, the team noted that the volcano had been pretty volatile due to earthquake activity, particularly in the 1950s and 70s.
And using a model of volcano fracturing, they found that some parts of the volcano had been stretched almost to breaking point... which doesn't sound good.
“Our new study confirms that Campi Flegrei is moving closer to rupture," said lead author professor, Christopher Kilburn (UCL Earth Sciences).
"However, this does not mean an eruption is guaranteed. The rupture may open a crack through the crust, but the magma still needs to be pushing up at the right location for an eruption to occur.
“This is the first time we have applied our model, which is based on the physics of how rocks break, in real-time to any volcano.
“Our first use of the model was in 2017, and since then, Campi Flegrei has behaved as we predicted, with an increasing number of small earthquakes indicating pressure from below.
“We will now have to adjust our procedures for estimating the chances of new routes being opened for magma or gas to reach the surface.
“The study is the first of its kind to forecast rupture at an active volcano. It marks a step change in our goal to improve forecasts of eruptions worldwide.”
And while previous major earthquakes have had an impact on the volcano, there have been hundreds of smaller quakes in the past couple of months alone, all of which had an impact.
Dr. Nicola Alessandro Pino from the Vesuvius Observatory, which represents the INGV in Naples, added: “Our results show that parts of the volcano are becoming weaker.
"This means that it might break even, though the stresses pulling it apart are smaller than they were during the last crisis 40 years ago.”