Italy has been preparing for a possible mass evacuation of tens of thousands of residents
Italy’s government has been preparing for a possible mass evacuation of tens of thousands of residents due to a supervolcano that has caused 2,500 earthquakes since September, several media outlets reported.
Residents in the city of Pozzuoli, which is outside of Naples, are concerned about the recent activity since they live in the volcanic area of Campi Flegrei. As reported by Reuters, a 4.2 magnitude earthquake occurred on Sept. 27 that, while it didn’t cause any major structural damage, provided the biggest tremor in the area in over four decades.
"Even those small ones (quakes) make us afraid," resident Annamaria Scardi told Reuters. "We are worried because (we are supposed to) run away. But where do we go? Where? This is the situation. We're on edge."
“It’s nonstop earthquakes here,” said Luca Averna, per The Wall Street Journal. “We’re used to it, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t afraid.”
As defined by the U.S. Geological Society, a supervolcano is defined as “a volcanic center that has had an eruption of magnitude 8 on the Volcano Explosivity Index (VEI), meaning that at one point in time, it erupted more than 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cubic miles) of material.” Relatedly, a “supereruption” is a term that describes VEI 8 eruptions. According to the agency, the largest eruption at Yellowstone occurred 2.1 million years ago with a volume of 2,450 cubic kilometers.
Italy’s official tourism website characterizes Campi Flegrei as a “dormant supervolcano, one of the few on the earth's surface.” And according to NBC News, Campi Flegrei's last eruption took place in 1538.
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A phenomenon known as bradyseism has been attributed to the increase of recent earthquakes in the Campi Flegrei area, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Christopher Kilburn, a professor of volcanology and geophysical hazards at University College London, told NBC News that he thinks that the activity at Campi Flegrei is due to a change in the structure of the volcano’s crust. However, he said, “If there’s a rupture [in the crust], there is no guarantee that magma is going to erupt.”
Meanwhile, the Italian government reviewed the situation last month, per Reuters, and would call for an evacuation if officials feel that buildings could be prone to collapse. Nello Musumeci, a civil protection minister, said that any evacuation would take place only in the event of “extreme necessity,” The Guardian reported.
Pamphlets have also been distributed to locals in Pozzuoli on what to do in case of an eruption and its aftermath. However, as resident Claudio Correale told The Wall Street Journal: “Everybody here knows the evacuation plan is inadequate. But it’s probably not even necessary, because everybody will have left by the time the volcano erupts.”
Resident Vincenzo Russo told Reuters that the threat of eruption has divided his family in that he wants to stay while his wife and children are looking to move to another town. "When you sleep at night, the nightmare is always there. You forget the situation and you're on the couch, and then the tremor is there with you,” he said.
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