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Uh-Oh, The Ancient Volcano That Wiped Out Neanderthals Is About to Blow Again

Dec 23, 2016 11:31 AM EST
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A volcanic area in Naples, Italy is starting to show signs of reawakening.

A study published recently in the journal Nature Communications, revealed that gases at the Campi Flegrei volcanic area may have already reached a pressure level, which means it may erupt at any time soon.

Science Alert said that Campi Flegrei, is a caldera formed 39,000 years ago, as part of the biggest eruption Europe has seen in the past 200,000 years. Since its formation, it has only erupted three times. One of the most notorious eruption is the one that occurred 200,000 years ago.

A study published in 2010 revealed that they have found evidence suggesting that the aforementioned eruption, which spewed almost 1 trillion gallons of molten rock was so destructive that it has wiped out Neanderthals.

IB Times reported that in 2009, the caldera gained the attention of people again after scientists suggested hydrothermal activity at the site could signal a forthcoming eruption.

Now, scientists at Italian National Institute of Geophysics in Rome show that based on physical measurements and computer modelling, Campi Flegrei is already at the critical degassing pressure (CDP) because of the accumulation and movement of molten magma beneath the Campi Flegrei.

CDP is a vital data point in understanding the likelihood of an eruption.

Despite these observations, the scientists said that the exact time when the Campi Flegrei will spew hot magmatic gasses could not be predicted.

"In general, unfortunately, volcanology is not a precise science," lead author Giovanni Chiodini, a volcanologist at the National Institute of Geophysics in Rome. wrote in an email to Chicago Tribune. "We have many uncertainties and long-term previsions are at the moment not possible! For example, the process that we describe could evolve in both directions: toward pre-eruptive conditions or to the finish of the volcanic unrest."

National Geographic notes that Italy's government has already raised the volcano's threat level from green to yellow, or from quiet to require scientific monitoring. An eruption, if ever to happen, would be devastating to the 500,000 people living in and around it.

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