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If Italy's Campi Flegrei Supervolcano Erupts, It Could Be Even Worse Than Mount Vesuvius

Updated 6 Aug 2019 2.8k views13 items

A large circular depression surrounds the Bay of Naples on Italy's southwestern coast. Extending into the ocean, it can only be truly seen from the air. From the ground, you'd never know the area, which is home to several towns and villages, is actually a caldera - a massive volcanic crater seated above an extensive network of magma chambers and tunnels.

The land beneath Naples occasionally rumbles, and even rises, as the magma chambers beneath it bulge with molten rock. The people who live within the circumference of the ancient caldera do so in the hopes that the Campi Flegrei supervolcano will never blow in their lifetimes. If it does one day erupt, the results could be dire.

Looking back at past volcanic activity and eruptions, scientists have a pretty clear picture of the destructive potential of Campi Flegrei and the impact it would have on Italy and the world. One explosion nearly 40,000 years ago is believed to have contributed to the extinction of Neanderthals and was a level 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. By comparison, the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD was only a level 5.

Here's a look at the general anatomy of the Campi Flegrei supervolcano, and what people in Naples and across the globe could expect if it went off today.

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