The earth around Italy's megacity Naples has been shaking for months. On Monday afternoon, tremors were again felt around the “Phlegraean Fields” – Campi Flegrei in Italian – in the southern Italian region of Campania. The area is known for its high volcanic activity. According to the National Geophysical and Volcanological Institute (INGV), an earthquake of magnitude 3.6 was measured. The development worries experts.
Regular tremors, which repeatedly exceed a magnitude of 3.0 on the Richter scale, have apparently also made politicians sit up and take notice. At an emergency meeting in early October, the scenario of an eruption of the Phlegraean Fields was also discussed. The problem: The escape routes and evacuation plans are no longer up to date and urgently need to be updated. There are also no plans as to which buildings in the area around the volcano are earthquake-proof and which emergency plans, for example, hospitals should follow in the event of such a disaster.
Although INGV experts emphasize that an eruption of the supervolcano is very unlikely, the region's increasing seismic activity could still be a cause for concern. The last eruption of the Phlegraean Fields in 1538 was almost 500 years ago. And with 24 craters, the volcano is significantly larger than the infamous Vesuvius, which buried the city of Pompeii under a meter-thick layer of ash during an eruption in 79 AD. Experts also emphasized that all signs currently indicate that magma is moving beneath the Phlegraean Fields.
However, there is currently no danger of a horror scenario similar to that of the volcano's strongest eruption. Two years ago, the INGV published a simulation that showed what would happen if the Phlegraean Fields erupted again as strongly as they did almost 4,100 years ago. Such an eruption could last days and cost thousands of lives unless evacuation plans work.
But scientists do not expect such a massive eruption. An eruption like 500 years ago would be more likely. In 1538 the Phlegraean Fields erupted for the last time. As the "Frankfurter Rundschau" reports, 26 people were killed - onlookers who gathered at the edge of the crater and were killed by an explosion inside the volcanic funnel. Otherwise there were no casualties because the people were warned by earthquakes and the retreat of the sea.
Sources: Frankfurter Rundschau, Merkur.de, National Geographic, The Guardian