A supervolcano in Europe shows signs of blowing up again. Researchers who have been monitoring the 8-mile wide caldera of Campi Flegrei that lies beneath the Bay of Naples in Italy spotted signs of activities that may eventually culminate in an eruption.
Study researcher Giovanni Chiodini, from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Bologna, Italy and his colleagues reported their observations in the journal Nature Communications.
It is not yet certain if or when the volcano would erupt, but the Italian government has already raised the volcano’s threat level from green to yellow, which calls for constant scientific monitoring of changes in the volcano’s behavior.
What Happens When Supervolcanoes Blow Up?
The eruption of Campi Flegrei about 200,000 years ago set off a volcanic winter due to massive amount of ash the supervolcano spewed into the atmosphere. About 40,000 years ago, Campi Flegrei erupted again. It was one of the largest known volcanic eruptions of all time and is believed to have led to the demise of most of the European Neanderthals.
Researchers who have been studying the Yellowstone supervolcano described what could possibly happen if the supervolcano lying below America’s oldest national park would explode.
Experts said that if the Yellowstone supervolcano would blow up, the explosion could be a thousand times as powerful as the eruption of Mount Helen in 1980. It could also possibly cause a nuclear winter, where thick layers of ash would blanket the landmass, block the sun and lead to very low temperatures.
Threats Posed By A Modern-Day Campi Flegrei Eruption
A modern-day eruption of Campi Flegrei could be similarly catastrophic.Thousands of people, who live inside and near the caldera, are at risk should an eruption occur.
Volcanologist Oded Navon, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that if the volcano erupts again, the explosion would produce massive amounts of magma that can cover large areas of southern Italy.
The volcano may also spew out enough ash to alter global weather. Navon cited that the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines was followed by one of the rainiest winters ever. The impact of Campi Flegrei blowing up could be much worse. It could cause a climatic problem that can last a few years. The toxic gases released into the air may also remain in the atmosphere for more than a year.
“If it does erupt, it certainly could be a very serious matter,” Navon said. “It isn’t a volcano, it’s a supervolcano.”