‘Sleeping’ supervolcano in Italy could be ‘reaching a critical stage’, researchers warn

A ‘sleeping’ supervolcano near the city of Naples in Italy is closer to eruption than researchers believed – and may be ‘approaching a critical stage’, researchers have warned.

Researchers from University College London say that the eight-mile-wide caldera has been rumbling for nearly 70 years.

The researchers analysed stresses on the crust – which keeps magma trapped underground.

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‘By studying how the ground is cracking and moving at Campi Flegrei, we think it may be approaching a critical stage where further unrest will increase the possibility of an eruption,’ said researcher Christopher Kilburn, Director of the UCL Hazard Centre.

‘It’s imperative that the authorities are prepared for this.’

The volcano last erupted in 1538 – and 500,000 people now live nside or near the volcano’s caldera.

The Campi Flegrei caldera was formed 39,000 years ago – in the largest eruption in Europe in the past 200,000 years.

Since 2005, the volcano has been undergoing what scientists describe as ‘uplift’ – and Italian authorities raised the alert level to yellow in 2012.