According to scientists from University College London and the Vesuvius Observatory, Campi Flegrei, located only nine miles west of Naples, “may be approaching a critical stage.”
Experts, having studied Campi Flegrei over the past 500 years, say that the eight-mile-wide caldera has shown increased activity for nearly seven decades.
Magma moving beneath the ground has put the crust under a great amount of stress. This not only triggered small earthquakes throughout the 1950s, 1970s and 1980s but also has caused 20,000 shocks.
Campi Flegrei, meaning “Flaming Fields” in a combination of Italian and Greek, has also affected the port of Pozzuoli. While before 1950 the ground levels had been sinking, the port has now risen over 4 meters, according to scientific data.
Nonetheless, it was not until 2012 that the alert level for the volcano changed from green to amber, further emphasizing the threat of eruption. The volcano has not been this active since 1538 when the volcano erupted after 100 years of activity.
Scientists know that an eruption is not impending, but, according to Director of the UCL Hazard Centre Christopher Kilburn, “further unrest will increase the possibility of an eruption…It’s imperative that the authorities are prepared for this.”
If it erupts, Campi Flegrei would join the several other supervolcanoes that have recently erupted. Soufriere Hills on Montserrat erupted in 1997, killing 19 people, while El Hierro erupted in the Canary Islands from 2011 to 2012.
The volcano would also affect the nearly a million people living in Naples, as well as the 360,000 living across Campi Flegrei’s caldera. Its ash clouds would interrupt air traffic as well, as seen by the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallojökull in Iceland.
Campi Flegrei is not as well known as its neighboring Mount Vesuvius, which devastated the city of Pompeii in 79 AD. Nevertheless, an eruption from the volcano could be just as destructive.