Scientists have discovered the magma source, also called the "hot zone," of Campi Flegrei, a supervolcano in southern Italy that experts fear may be brewing for an eruption.
The volcano has not erupted for centuries, but scientists fear that it may blow up soon. A May 2017 study found evidence that the energy inside the volcano is building up in the past few decades, which increases the possibility of an eruption.
Hot Zone Located
In the 1980s, injection of magma or fluids in the Camp Flegrei's shallower structure caused small earthquakes.
In a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports on Aug. 14, researchers found the location of the hot zone that served as source of the magma that flooded into the volcano's chamber and caldera.
Using seismological techniques, Luca De Siena, of the University of Aberdeen, and colleagues, were able to identify the hot zone where the hot materials rose to flood the caldera in the 1980s.
"The temporal and spatial correlations we observe between seismic, tomographic, geochemical, and deformation models show that the high-attenuation and deformation area offshore Pozzuoli was the most feasible hot feeder for the seismic, deformation, and geochemical 1983-84 unrest," the researchers wrote in their study.
The research likewise suggests that a 1-2 km-deep rock formation prevented the magma from rising to the surface in the 1980s. The rock formation blocked the magma forcing the latter to release the stress along a lateral route.
One Of World's Most Dangerous Volcanoes May Blow Up Soon
Analysis of the hot zone backs up findings of earlier studies that suggest Campi Flegrei, one of the most dangerous supervolcanoes on Earth, could be nearing eruption.
The supervolcano showed relatively low amount of seismic activity for decades suggesting that pressure could be building within the supervolcano's caldera. Researchers said that this makes Campi Flegrei more dangerous.
De Siena explained that whatever activity that was produced under Pozzuoli in the 1980s has likely migrated elsewhere, which means that the danger no longer lies in the same spot.
"You can now characterise Campi Flegrei as being like a boiling pot of soup beneath the surface," De Siena said.
Volcanologists said that a modern-day eruption of Campi Flegrei could be catastrophic. The eruption that formed the volcano's caldera about 39,000 years ago is believed to be the largest that occurred in Europe in the past 200,000 years.
Thousands of people live inside and near the volcano's caldera.