Sun. May 26th, 2024

EVACUATION plans have been drawn up over fears a supervolcano is on the brink of erupting.

Italy‘s Campi Flegrei region was hit by more than 1,100 earthquakes in the last month alone – raising worries it could be on the verge of a historic blast.

AlamyCampi Flegrei is feared to be on the brink of erupting[/caption]

AFPPlans have been drawn up to evacuate nearby areas[/caption]

Now tens of thousands of people living close to the volcano near Naples are on the verge of fleeing as it could be ready to blow for the first time in almost 500 years.

Campi Flegrei – which means “burning fields” – is a sprawling network of 24 craters.

It is bigger than Mount Vesuvius, the region’s better-known volcano that destroyed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in AD79.

The supervolcano‘s last mass eruption was around 18,000 years ago – but volcanic activity has severely ramped up since 2022.

A 4.2 magnitude earthquake shook the site earlier this month, triggering fears the volcano could soon erupt.

Italian authorities have now plotted a scheme to evacuate more than half a million people living nearby within three days if necessary.

Its previous largest eruption saw it chuck massive amounts of molten rock and volcanic gases – including fluorine which kills plants and causes disease in animals – high into the stratosphere.

If it happened again, the plume of sulfur and toxic ash could plunge Earth into global winter for several years, experts have warned.

It would smother and destroy crops and cause mass extinctions, as well as unleash 100-feet-high tsunamis.

Campi Flegrei’s giant eruption around 39,000 years ago has been partly blamed for wiping out the Neanderthals by researchers.

Campi Flegrei’s last eruption, in 1538, was a relatively minor one – though it was forceful enough to form a new mountain, Monte Nuovo.

The Campi Flegrei caldera was formed 39,000 years ago in a blast that threw hundreds of cubic kilometres of lava, rock and debris into the air.

It was the largest eruption in Europe in the past 200,000 years, according to scientists.

In the 1980s, some 40,000 people were evacuated from nearby Pozzuoli amid fears it could blow following a spate of quakes.

Christopher Kilburn, a professor of Earth Science at University College London, warned the volcano is now “moving closer to rupture”.

In a study by researchers at UCL and Italy’s National Research Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology, he said: “However, this does not mean an eruption is guaranteed.

“The rupture may open a crack through the crust, but the magma still needs to be pushing up at the right location for an eruption to occur.”

AFPSmoke coming from Campi Flegrei on October 4[/caption]

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