Italy volcano warning: ‘Dangerous lack of control’ in Vesuvian region amid eruption fear

Only one group of four geochemists and one mobile seismograph are available to monitor the activity, with Vesuvian Observatory scholars forced to work shifts of up to 10 hours a day to ensure data analysis of volcanic surveillance network. 

The director herself, Francesca Bianco, has occasionally had to go around with just one colleague assigned to the mobile seismograph.

The high population density in Campania, southern Italy, means it is widely regarded as the world’s most dangerous volcanic region and failing to properly monitor the area could result in catastrophe.

The lack of control is largely down to a lack of funds at the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV), although organisational issues have also been blamed.

The problem has arisen at a time when the Phlegraean Fields volcanic regions are in a state of attention (yellow), Ischia recorded a terrible earthquake at Casamicciola and there was a tragedy with three victims in Solfatara.

Financial woes have meant the study of the Phlegraean Fields has suffered considerably, and Italian geophysicist Enzo Boschi’s recent article, titled “The paradox of the Phlegraean Fields: danger increases and attention decreases”, has revealed the extent of the problem.

He writes: “The research programs to understand the volcano have been abandoned definitively. 

Campi Flegrei had been dormant since the 1980s, but it awoke from the decades long slumber last year, and experts are now beginning to understand its full potential.

While the volcano did show signs of activity in the 80s, it did not erupt but seismologists fear a magma flow could trigger an eruption.

Seismologists have been monitoring the situation and found magma has been flooding into the chambers of Campi Flegrei – prompting fears it could be about to erupt near the holiday hotspot of Naples.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega