The slumbering Campi Flegrei volcano under the Italian city of Naples shows signs of reawakening and may be nearing a critical pressure point, according to a new study.
Italian and French scientists have for the first time identified a threshold beyond which rising magma under the Earth’s surface could trigger the release of fluids and gases at a 10-fold increased rate.
This would cause the injection of high-temperature steam into surrounding rocks, said Giovanni Chiodini, a researcher at Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Bologna. “Hydrothermal rocks, if heated, can ultimately lose their mechanical resistance, causing an acceleration towards critical conditions,” he told AFP by email.
He said it was not possible to say when – or if – the volcano would erupt but “it would be very dangerous” if it did for about 500,000 people living inside and near the caldera – the bowl-like depression created after a volcano blows its top.