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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dangerous Supervolcano could Erupt Sooner than Expected

Could wipe out millions, change the world's economy.

Published on May 15, 2017
One of the world’s most dangerous supervolcanoes appears to be closer to erupting than we once thought, scientists have warned.

Campi Flegrei in southern Italy has been showing signs of reawakening over the past 67 years, and new research indicates the volcano has been building energy throughout this period, increasing the risk that it will erupt.

One of the world's most dangerous supervolcanoes may erupt sooner than previously thought and threaten the safety of millions, scientists say.
In a study published Monday in Nature Communications, scientists from the University College London (UCL) and the Vesuvius Observatory in Naples, Italy, created a new model that looked at activity and ground uplift since the 1950s at the Phlegraean Fields supervolcano. Known locally as the Campi Flegrei caldera, the huge 8-mile-wide volcanic field lies just 9 miles west of the city that is home to more than 3 million people.
The scientists determined that a “long-term accumulation of stress” provides “the first quantitative evidence that Campi Flegrei is evolving towards conditions more favorable to eruption.”
According to Volcano Discovery, Campi Flegrei is comprised of 24 craters that are easily visible from space, with much of the field lying beneath the gulf of Pozzuoli. It last erupted in 1538, producing what is known as a "super-colossal" eruption that lasted more than a week. It was considered a rather small eruption considering the caldera's violent past. 
While it is impossible to predict when a volcano will erupt, certain signs can help scientists predict when an eruption might occur.
Over the course of the past nearly 70 years, three episodes of activity in the '50s, '70s and '80s were recorded that involved the movement of magma 1.8 miles beneath the surface, accompanied by small earthquakes that created uplift at the caldera.
A view from space of the many craters that comprise the Campi Flegrei caldera under Naples, Italy. The majority of the supervolcano lies under the Gulf of Pozzuoli. (NASA)
The scientists note that previous studies have determined that the ground around the Campi Flegrei has moved up to 3 inches in the past decade, while the nearby port of Pozzuoli has risen nearly 10 feet as a result of the activity. Scientists say a similar occurrence was noted before the 1538 eruption. 
The scientists say the relatively recent activity is stretching the ground to the point where magma may eventually break through the crust. Previously, researchers believed the crust of the earth relaxed after each episode of activity, but this latest model proves otherwise. 
In a statement, study author Christopher Kilburn, director of the UCL Hazard Centre, said based on their observations of the "cracking and moving at Campi Flegrei, we think it may be approaching a critical stage where further unrest will increase the possibility of an eruption, and it's imperative that the authorities are prepared for this.

One of the World’s Most Dangerous Supervolcanoes Could Erupt Sooner Than Expected | The Weather Channel:

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