A volcano near the city of Rome–the Colli Albani, a Volcanic complex–is waking up says a new report published by scientists from the American Geophysical Union.
Scientists once believed that Colli Albani, a nine-mile semicircle of hills just outside of Rome, was an extinct volcano because there was no record of it having erupted in human history. Of late, however, scientists have noticed new stream vents, rise in ground level in the hills around the area, and earthquakes too.
Such observations, plus the new set of evidence of past eruption and data from satellites, show that Colli Albani is starting to reveal itself, and it has entered the so-called ‘eruptive cycle.’ But do not pack your bags yet if you live near the area. Scientists have suggested that it would erupt in one thousand years from now, citing the study published in the peer-reviewed journal, the Geophysical Research Letters.
Data gathered by scientists show that the volcano’s past eruptive cycles created both low blast of lava and ash that rolled down its slopes at tremendous speeds.
Volcanologist Fabrizio Marra at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome–the lead author of the research–has revealed that under the right circumstances, the volcano is capable of releasing energy comparable to Mt. Vesuvius which destroyed the ancient city of Pompeii in the year seventy-nine A.D.
The eruption of Colli Albani could generate massive, far-reaching clouds of ash and smoke, and rocks, thus sending destruction to nearby cities. The city of Rome is only about nineteen miles from Colli Albani, and it would be severely affected by an eruption if the wind blew in the right direction. In closer places, however, great damage is expected.
Marra hopes the new study will force authorities to conduct better monitoring of the volcano.
The study reveals that the volcano operates on a thirty-one thousand-year cycle of eruption and dormancy. In a report at the AGU, researchers headed by Marra explained that occasionally, a giant ‘bubble’ of pressurized magma forms underneath our planet’s crust, forcing its way upwards into a fracture between two pieces of land. At the Colli Albani, two pieces of land forming the fracture above the magma bubble are being pressed together by the surrounding geology, and it keeps the magma bubble from erupting.
They say the most visible sign of the magma bubble in the area is an increase in height of the hills, and of the surrounding area, as the bubble pushes up from underneath the ground. Over the last two hundred thousand years, the team estimates that the land around the formerly dormant volcano has risen by about fifty meters–or one hundred and sixty-four feet–as magma bubbles form and vanish.
Researchers also have found that the land continues to rise by more than two millimeters–or, about point zero and eight inches–a year, and it shows that the underground bubble of magma underneath the volcano is still growing.