Camp Flegrei doesn't resemble a typical volcano, but it could be many, many times more deadly should it suddenly erupt.
A gigantic volcano could be on the verge of a massive eruption that would have devastating effects. A huge underground supervolcano sitting beneath half a million people in Italy may be waking up and reaching a “critical state,” scientists say in a new study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Camp Flegrei is a volcanic area situated to the west of Naples. It lies mostly underwater, but its sheer size would result in devastation if it were to erupt so close to a major city. Scientists say int he study that magma in the supervolcano could be approaching critical degassing pressure (CDP). If there were a sudden release of hot magmatic gases in the near future, it could trigger a giant eruption, but it’s difficult to say exactly when that might happen.
Italy boosted the threat level of the volcano from green to yellow after hearing the news. That’s not cause for immediate alarm, as it simply bumps it up from quiet to requiring scientific monitoring.
Campi Flegrei is also called the Phlegraean Fields. It is similar to the supervolcano lurking at Yellowstone in the national park, as it does not have a single volcanic cone but represents a large complex where magma can build up.
“During the reawaking of a volcano, magmas migrating through the shallow crust have to pass through hydrothermal fluids and rocks,” the paper’s abstract states. “The resulting magma–hydrothermal interactions are still poorly understood, which impairs the ability to interpret volcano monitoring signals and perform hazard assessments. Here we use the results of physical and volatile saturation models to demonstrate that magmatic volatiles released by decompressing magmas at a critical degassing pressure (CDP) can drive volcanic unrest towards a critical state. We show that, at the CDP, the abrupt and voluminous release of H2O-rich magmatic gases can heat hydrothermal fluids and rocks, triggering an accelerating deformation that can ultimately culminate in rock failure and eruption. We propose that magma could be approaching the CDP at Campi Flegrei, a volcano in the metropolitan area of Naples, one of the most densely inhabited areas in the world, and where accelerating deformation and heating are currently being observed.”