Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Campi Flegrei Inflating Again

The massive Campi Flegrei caldera, one of a few large and active caldera systems in the world, seems to be inflating at an accelerated rate, and new data suggests that it is also heating up. Volcano-discovery.com reports that the area has been uplifted by an astonishing 8cm during their study period of July-August of 2012, until now, and that the uplift seems to be holding steady. Even more disconcerting is that gas emissions and fumerole temperatures are also on the rise.

Volcano-discovery.com cites this Italian goeology journal as the source.

Campi Flegrei's last eruption produced the Monte Nuevo cinder cone during the year 1538 A.D. While this was not a very large eruption, a similar eruption today would find itself in a very densely populated area, where it would be extremely difficult to evacuate everyone (scenes from that horrid movie "Volcano" with Tommy Lee Jones comes to mind), and damage to life and property could be severe.

While it is far, far too early to begin ringing alarm bells, lets keep in mind that many of Italy's famed eruptions have resulted in fatalities on massive scales before. When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in Roman times, it completely wiped out the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Little warning was issued by the volcano, and the sudden onst of ashfall and pyroclastic flow gave people little or no time at all to escape the doom. Preserved in pyroclastic flow, the bodies were later unearthed in exactrly the positions they were in when the pyroclastic cloud swept over the terrified city.

An eruption today, from virtually ANY mainland Italy volcano could even be worse. However, given that volcanologists and geologists exist today, we have a slight edge, and therefore should be able to at least give a couple hours of warning before any main event.

The other issue with attempting to identify risks of Italian geology is the Italian government itself. Late last year, several italian scientists were convicted for manslaughter for 'failiing to predict an earthquake'. It seems the Italian government puts more faith in calirvoyance than good science, and unfortunately, if an eruption were to occur and there was loss of life and property, it is likely (now that there is precedent) that the Italian government would again attempt to hold scientists responsible for an 'act of god', so to speak. Truly insane if you ask me. It would be like suing the weather man for every time the wind shifted.

In any case, check out Volcano-discovery.com's article on the goings-on at this fascinating, yet slightly terrifying volcano.  

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