Many of us, who are familiar with Italy’s landscape, are aware that the country is one of the only European country’s with active volcanoes. The three best known are Mount Etna, Stromboli, and Mount Vesuvius. However, there is a much larger, much deadlier, volcano lurking underneath their feet.
Situated to the west of Naples, the supervolcano is known as Campi Flegrei. This volcano has been active for about 60,000 years, and last erupted in 1538. This eruption lasted for a week and led to the creation of a new volcano, Monte Nuovo. However, this wasn’t even the volcano’s biggest eruption. Scientists say that event took place about 39,000 years before with ash covering 1.4 million square miles.
In recent years, researchers have noticed an increase in activity within Campi Flegrei. They discovered a build of energy and magma production, which is indicative of an impending eruption. Yet, the million-dollar question is, when will that eruption occur? Most scientists agree that the population is not in immediate danger, but the reality is they don’t know. This event could happen in 100 years or thousands of years.
Currently, about 500,000 people live in the volcano’s ‘the red zone’. Although the Italian government does have a National Emergency Plan in place in case of an eruption, part of the volcano does reside underwater. In the event the eruption occurs in the sea, Campi Flegrei has the capability of producing a 100-foot tsunami.
Despite the uncertainty, scientists are using this opportunity to further their studies on volcanos and how they work. This helps narrow down predictions as to when the next eruption may occur. Additionally, there is no guarantee that when Campi Fiegrei does erupt, it will be on the mass scale previously seen.
For now, researchers are collecting as much data as they can and monitoring the situation closely. As one scientist explained, the probability of larger eruptions are rare, but they are still a possibility and therefore need to be prepared for as much as possible.