While the Campi Flegrei volcano hasn’t erupted since 1538, experts have warned that it could be building up to another devastating eruption.
By studying patterns of unrest over the last 500 years, the researchers have predicted that we are reaching a ‘critical stage’ where further unrest will lead to an eruption.
They hope their findings will urge local authorities to prepare for an eruption, which they say would affect the 360,000 people living across the caldera and Naples’ population of nearly one million.
While the Campi Flegrei volcano hasn’t erupted since 1538, experts have warned that it could be building up to another devastating eruption
If the volcano was to erupt, it could cause havoc for those trying to fly in the area.
Dr Christopher Kilburn, who led the study, told MailOnline: ‘An eruption might disrupt air traffic, if only for precautionary measures and the immediate effect would be in Campi Flegrei and Naples.’
Experts from UCL and the Vesuvius Observatory in Naples have been studying the patterns of unrest since Campi Flegrei’s last eruption 500 years ago.
The volcano has been restless for 67 years, with two-year periods of unrest in the 1950s, 1970s and 1980s causing small, local earthquakes and ground uplift.
Similar unrest occurred over 500 years ago, when it took a century to build up to an eruption in 1538.
Using a new model, the researchers investigated whether Campi Flegrei may again be preparing to erupt.
They found that the unrest since the 1950s has been causing a build-up of energy in the crust and making the volcano more vulnerable to eruption.
Until now, scientists had thought that the energy needed to stretch the crust was lost after each period of unrest.