LifestyleItaly on edge: supervolcano threat prompts mass evacuations in Naples

Italy on edge: supervolcano threat prompts mass evacuations in Naples

"Second Vesuvius" worries Italians
"Second Vesuvius" worries Italians
Images source: © Adobe Stock

10:08 AM EDT, May 20, 2024

The Italian supervolcano has been causing concern among the authorities and residents of the region for many months. The Phlegraean Fields is a caldera beneath a gigantic lake of liquid magma. They are more afraid of earthquakes than eruptions, but experts are not ruling anything out.

The Italian supervolcano has been making headlines since the fall, when, on September 27th last year, the strongest earthquake in 40 years was recorded in the Phlegraean Fields area (Campi Flegrei). The quake had a magnitude of 4.2 on the Richter scale and was also felt in Rome and Apulia.

Phlegraean Fields - the Italian supervolcano

The Phlegraean Fields, mentioned here, are located about 12 miles from Naples and form the caldera of the so-called supervolcano. The depression was formed due to a past explosion with a diameter of about 8 miles. The supervolcano consists of 24 craters. Beneath the caldera lies a gigantic lake of liquid magma. Pozzuoli, which has a population of over 80,000, is situated in this area.

Following the events at the end of September, experts immediately highlighted the urgent need to craft detailed evacuation plans for the people living in the affected areas.

The Italian government immediately started trial evacuations and prepared detailed evacuation plans for hundreds of thousands of residents in the southern part of the country. Although much time has passed since September, the situation is becoming increasingly tense.

For many months, seismic tremors have been occurring in this area, causing increasing concern among the population. Evacuation plans have been developed for this area, and many region residents already have a bag packed in case of sudden evacuation.

In Pompeii, thousands of people died when Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. Meanwhile, the supervolcano is much larger—due to its danger, it is often called the "second Vesuvius."

Phlegraean Fields from a bird's eye view
Phlegraean Fields from a bird's eye view© Adobe Stock

Although tremors in the region are not new, this year's increased frequency and intensity only fuel anxiety. Experts, however, reassured us that a similar increase in tremors was felt in the early 1980s, which did not lead to a volcanic eruption.

The Italian government's Department of Civil Protection emphasizes that earthquakes are a more urgent issue than eruptions and that more might occur soon.

Exercises for students

Special exercises for elementary school students in Pozzuoli occurred in April this year. Singing a song with the words "And we all go bump!" ("Tutti giù per terra"), they learned what to do in the event of an earthquake.

During the exercises, students learned that in the event of a tremor, they should quickly get under their desks, using the words of a popular children's song. Then, when the earthquake subsides, they must leave the building and go to the courtyard in an orderly manner along a designated route.

Parents were also involved in the exercises. They had to reach the school as quickly as possible on foot. This ensures that cars do not block the streets, which must be passable for emergency services.

Our "grandchild" method, near Naples "Phlegraean Fields" method

In the Campi Flegrei area, scammers exploit the population's fear of the supervolcano. They pose as technicians checking the condition of buildings before a possible stronger earthquake.

Local authorities emphasize that no such inspections are conducted and that such individuals should not be allowed into homes under any circumstances but should immediately call the police.

Source: La Stampa, PAP, dw.com

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