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Campi Flegrei

bjdeming

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Don't panic, but:



Here is an autotranslation of the linked page:

Seismic swarm at Campi Flegrei on 08.18.2023 - Director's update at 5.50 pm

From 1:57 (local time) on 18 August 2023 a "seismic swarm at the Campi Flegrei" was recorded consisting of about 115 events with magnitude (Md) ≥ 0, of which 34 of Md ≥ 1 and maximum magnitude 3.6 ± 0.3 , registered by the Vesuvius Observatory Monitoring Network of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV). The epicenters are located in the Accademia-Solfatara area (Pozzuoli).

Earthquake swarm 08.18.2023


Mauro Di Vito, Director of the INGV Vesuvius Observatory,declares: “The dynamics of the Campi Flegrei is constantly monitored by the monitoring networks of the Vesuvian Observatory, in close contact with the Civil Protection Department. The geophysical and geochemical parameters analysed, both in the well and in the hydrothermal emissions, indicate the persistence of the ongoing dynamics, with ground uplift, which presents an average speed of about 15 mm/month from the beginning in the area of maximum deformation in the Rione Terra of 2023, and no significant geochemical changes in the last week. Even the analysis of the planimetric deformation data of the ground do not show significant variations with respect to the characteristic radial shape from the central area of Pozzuoli. At present there are no elements such as to suggest significant evolutions of the system in the short term.

This is not unusual at restless calderas like Campi Flegrei and Yellowstone.

The experts at INGV have not raised the alert level --Yellow (autotranslated) -- but with Campi Flegrei's infamous bradyseism still under study, and with over a million living in that caldera, and downtown Naples just over the hill (with a dormant Vesuvius on the other side of town), there's a good chance tonight's news will spark sensationalism and rumors that will test the Internet's capacity over the weekend.

Follow it at INGV and via other volcanology sites. On a much more humble level, I'm blogging it (some background info and links there).
 
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bjdeming

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So, 16 minutes ago, they tweeted that the swarm has ended:



Confusing for this layperson but reassuring; still, will keep an eye on Campi Flegrei for a while.
 

bjdeming

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Just a quick followup. News check via Google Translate shows some officials talking about it, as well as a story about two houses that were checked for damage and found to only have ongoing maintenance issues.

The nice thing is that consistently in these stories, INGV is quoted as saying this is normal activity.

The unspoken part: for the short term. Who knows how much time that is?

Still, whew!
 

bjdeming

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Here's drone footage, from six years ago, of the general area where the swarm happened (the caldera itself underlies the rest of the land shown, and more, plus the whole Bay of Pozzuoli).



If it's going to erupt, now or ever, from what I've read, it will likely be here at the Solfatara, not caldera-wide. (There are, per INGV, no precursory changes noted in monitoring):
 

bjdeming

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There have been some online news reports and a Facebook post from the Mayor of Pozzuoli about a "new swarm" this week, but INGV never tweeted about it (as they did frequently about last week's events).

A couple hours ago the boffins tweeted a link to their regular weekly update.

Bottom line (Google Translate):

On the basis of the current framework of volcanic activity outlined above, no elements are highlighted such as to suggest significant short-term developments.

N.B. Any changes in the monitored parameters may lead to a different one
evolution of the hazard scenarios described above.

Good! I hope this thread never needs more news posts, except when the old caldera unleashes rainbows, unicorns, and peppermint candy canes. ;)
 

Tennie

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Good! I hope this thread never needs more news posts, except when the old caldera unleashes rainbows, unicorns, and peppermint candy canes. ;)

Well, given how densely populated that area is, I'm willing to bet that if anything were to emerge from the ground there, it will still be enough to cause a commotion!
 

bjdeming

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Rome, too.

Communication is a good way to reduce commotion, and volcanologists are very good at it as first the Australians New Zealanders (sorry!) and now the Italians have shown recently when one of their supervolcanoes fussed a little.




Per Twitter translation:

In the Campi Flegrei since 2005 there has been a slow uplift of the soil that has exceeded one meter in the area of the Rione Terra di Pozzuoli. Earthquake swarms have also been occurring more often in recent weeks. We talk about it in the INGVvulcani blog. https://buff.ly/3YKmRTi


Scroll down the linked post for the English version.

Edit: Volcano Discovery has a good article on it, with links.

More INGV info:
 
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bjdeming

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Things have happened but not dramatically or concerningly until a few days ago, when another swarm kicked off with an M3.8 that was felt in Naples (but did no damage AFAIK).

That turned out to be the strongest in the brief swarm, which is now over.

What's really cool, though, is the update INGV put out last night about it (scroll down for English version).

It's an incredibly detailed look at this complex restless caldera, but presented in simple terms (in English -- presumably in Italian, too).

They've done a remarkable job of introducing everyone to their neighborhood volcano, as well as of communicating the uncertainties of living with a hazard like Campi Flegrei: everything they've got, they've put up here and at their Campi Flegrei page. (Italian)

That is how you help millions of urbanites through their come-to-Jesus moment of "Whoa: Campi Flegrei is real and I live in/next door to it."

Those who get through that moment all right stand a much better chance of survival if and when there's an eruption at Campi Flegrei (OR Vesivius OR Ischia -- another, though much smaller, Neapolitan caldera).

The last part, BTW, is in Italian, so I ran it through Google Translate -- OV is the Italian acronym for Vesivius Observatory, which doesn't just focus on the Pompeii killer):

Currently the probability of a volcanic eruption is relatively low, precisely because there is no evidence of magma rising towards the surface. Furthermore, the uplifted crustal volume currently amounts to much less than km3, constraining the size of the fluids in the uplift feed area. Seismic and geochemical data, ground deformations, surface and well thermal variations, gravimetric variations do not currently provide indications that the magma is rising towards the surface. However, the volcano has its unstoppable natural evolution and, sooner or later, it will erupt again. The attention of INGV-OV is maximum in the collection, study and interpretation of data and any variation is and will always be discussed and communicated promptly to the Civil Protection bodies at its various levels.
 

bjdeming

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A four-pointer occurred overnight.

Per this Reuters article, no damage has been reported yet.

However, this part of the article caught my eye (from my reading for the Campania volcanism blog posts a while back, I know that Dr. De Natale is a top expert).

Speaking in a personal capacity, De Natale said the last time Campi Flegrei suffered a similar burst of earthquakes in the 1980s, some 40,000 people were temporarily evacuated from nearby Pozzuoli. The town now has a population of more than 80,000.

"Currently, I believe the more immediate risk is seismic. But it is clear that one must also consider the possibility of an eruption," he told Reuters.

He said if there was an eruption, it would be a phreatic, or steam-blast eruption -- which are generally relatively weak and devoid of new magma -- at least initially.

There was no sign of structural damage in the area after Wednesday's tremor.

De Natale confirmed a report in Corriere Della Sera newspaper that he had written to the government last week suggesting possible evacuations. A local official said his recommendation was being reviewed.

[Layperson speculation] The fact that it's Dr. De Natale speaking and that Reuters is now covering it (news up til now I've had to mine from local online publications and run through a translation machine), as well as some of the wording, makes this significant -- just one example re: wording is the "personal opinion" nature of this conversation, which takes guts considering the big potential here for mass panic, the challenging logistics of evacuation, the strong influence of legit and criminal interests that would be affected by an evacuation, along with the country's history of charging scientists and emergency managers after a disaster.[/Layperson speculation]
 

bjdeming

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BTW, the volcano the other side of town, the one that everybody associates with Naples because of Pompeii, is sound asleep and has been since 1944. It's so thoroughly monitored that INGV will pick up any signs of reawakening long before they need to invoke Plan Vesuvio.

To lighten the mood, here's the Italian Alpine Club climbing it in winter. They won't see the volcano in the fog, but they don't need to, any more than I need name it here.

Glad it's sleeping now.



That long shot near the start, where they look back across the bay? That land is part of the Campi Flegrei caldera rim, and the cone beyond it, in the caldera, is Monte Nuovo: born in fire during the 16th century.

Dr. Eric Klemetti wrote on his blog recently that if anything develops out of CF's current unrest -- a big if -- the most likely eruption would be similar to Monte Nuovo's. (It's a cinder cone, like Paricutin in Mexico, and won't erupt again, but others can.)
 
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bjdeming

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Excellent interview with an INGV official today. That link should autotranslate the article into English.

The Terra section of town she mentions hasn't been inhabited since 1970, when this happened:



Today, per sources online, Rione Terra is an open-air museum. Someone who has contacts and knows Campania well should do a book about those people and their descendants.
 

bjdeming

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We all know what to do when severe weather is on the way. With volcanoes it's different.

Some, like Kilauea in Hawaii or the more hazardous Merapi in Indonesia, erupt often enough for their human neighbors to have a "severe-weather" attitude on call at any moment.

Other volcanoes, like Vesivius (1944) and Campi Flegrei (1548), sleep for very long times.

Naples didn't have a volcano emergency plan until the 1990s, when work during the European Laboratory and Decade Volcano programs contributed to the development of Plan Vesuvio.

I don't know how the plan for Campi Flegrei developed (because it isn't a Decade Volcano), but it's been there for a while.

As this article (should autotranslate into English) notes, it has been an exercise on paper up until now. The article interprets that into IRL terms for 1.5 million people in the Red and Yellow zones who may be called upon to evacuate at any moment (not yet; the swarming continues but at low levels, and CF is still under Yellow alert).

It just reminded me so much of James Spann's reassuring and informative coverage during a tornado emergency.

Totally different situation, I know, but following the same general principles. Give people what they need to know in an emergency -- and give it to them confidently and reassuringly.

For many of the millions living around Naples Bay, this might be the first time they have ever seriously looked at the plans.

That is good, very good, though of course it is an awful situation right now for many in Pozzuoli and western Naples.

Last week's 4-pointer indirectly may have saved countless lives in the future.
 

bjdeming

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This is just an amazing image.



  • Vesuvius (green): Right.
  • Campi Flegrei.
  • The third caldera in the area: Ischia, large island on left. I think that's Procida between Ischia and the mainland, which is volcanic but less so; haven't read much on it.

The second four-pointer seems well-covered in the news. In other matters, officials are tweaking the Emergency Plan; INGV's bulletin through October 1 notes that the rate of land lift is slightly accelerating, and that there are no other changes in monitored parameters.
 

thundersnow

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Seeing the concentric rings are bisected by the coastline, I’m assuming there is uplift off the coast, which wouldn’t be picked up here. My questions are- could the center of the rings be predictive of where an eruption could occur, and could that actually be a bit offshore?
 

bjdeming

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As I understand InSAR, it can't penetrate water, so yeah.

It certainly looks on that image as though the rings are getting closer (i.e., faster rate of lift) towards a center out in Pozzuoli Bay.

But what I've read from INGV online outreach is that the center of uplift is inshore at the old Greek/Roman town of Terra (above video) which is right on the bay.

Solfatara, that desolate geothermal area, reportedly is uplifting, too.

INGV has a dense network of monitors at Campi Flegrei, including some stations on the bay floor. They'd pick up signs of floor uplift, submarine degassing, etc..

Also, increased uplift out there would be affecting sea level in major ways, something people are very tuned in on here, and I haven't seen any mention of that in the Italian news sources I've been able to find online and decipher (not comprehensive, but worth noting).

Right now the major concerns involve seismic damage, which is occurring alread in older, poorly maintained structures.



Too, eruptions through water come with their own hazards, like tsunami (which would affect all of Naples Bay), base surges, and extended ashfall regions. Certainly this is factored into the hazard mapping, etc., but I see Neapolitan volcanologists and Civil Protection now focused more on land-based, Pozzuoli/western Naples threats here (though again, the language difference is a problem).

This reinforces the land-based uplift center idea.

Some good (?) news might be this quote from a Times online article:

"The seismic activity is due to the rupture of the faults caused by the pressure exerted by the rising gas,” said Robert Isaia, of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.

He added that, while seismic energy is increasing at Campi Flegrei, “there is still no sign of magma rising to the surface, although it cannot be ruled out that at several kilometres of depth there is some movement of small quantities of magma.”

That well could mean that gases/magmatic fluids are causing the unrest rather than rising magma.

If so, then those gases are most likely to exit through a pre-existing vent when they reach the surface, i.e., Solfatara in between Pozzuoli and Naples.

If a phreatic (steam) eruption at Solfatara or environs occurred, it would still be very bad for residents, but not Monte Nuovo levels of bad.

If.

Just from the little I've read about volcanoes as a layperson, the great uncertainty with a phreatic eruption is this: how will it affect the superficial plumbing? (The big reservoir is deeper.)

Will that steam explosion or phreatic eruption "clear the throat" to allow magma to move upwards and vent as (worst case) another big cinder cone eruption?

Or will Campi Flegrei just burp it out, reseal the vent (the presence of water and heat is good for such a process), and doze off to sleep again?
 
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bjdeming

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This is just an excerpt from an in-depth article (autotranslated, hopefully) about official moves to deal with the situation (read the whole thing) -- note that this is tweaking the existing plan, and maybe a future practice run, NOT an actual evacuation they're talking about:

Significantly reduce the population residing in the red zone(around 600 thousand people), adopt a progressive evacuation scheme that starts from a small area considered to be at greatest risk, evacuate, at least temporarily, the buildings located within 1 and a half kilometers from the Solfatara-Agnano area, i.e. in the area which the major earthquakes are produced, to verify the usability and resistance capacity of the buildings to other significant earthquakes. These are some of the proposals at the center of the seminar which will be held on Friday 6 October in Naples in the Circolo Savoia. «It is necessary to immediately study a specific evacuation plan for the Phlegraean risk which is expected to be very complex, represented by the eruption risk», says Antonio Coviello, who coordinates a team of experts including volcanologists from INGV, geologists from ENEA, urban planners, jurists and economists from the CNR-IRISS...

I've only read up on Vesuvius (for the eBook), but it sounds like a similar thing: Plan Vesuvio was first developed during and after the Decade Volcano program in the 90s; they've kept up with it and last updated it, I think, in 2018, but the big concern appears to be about whether it can work in practice in this major urban area.

Well, Campi Flegrei is calling now, and we'll see how handling this urban volcano crisis works in real life.

Things are absolutely terrible for those in harm's way right now, but the response may not only help folks now but also save lives in the future.

Believe it or not, they once held a practice evacuation for Plan Vesuvio and some people (including tourists at Pompeii) stayed in place because it was raining.

After this crisis experience, that will never happen again anywhere in the area.
 

bjdeming

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Yes, practice evacuations tomorrow, per this report.

Reportedly (Italian), it's a private initiative.

Good! As the Japanese put it after a deadly eruption in 1914 -- more deadly than it needed to be due to human error -- in such crises, "be frightened effectively and don't wait for authorities to tell you what to do" (I'm paraphrasing here).
 
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