Thursday, May 6, 2010

Europe's largest underwater volcano at risk of collapse

The biggest underwater volcano in Europe could erupt at any moment and cause a tsunami, according to new research. For residents of southern Italy, the Marsili is just one more disaster threat to live with.

Just off Italy's southwestern coast, about 450 meters beneath the Tyrrhenian Sea, lies Europe's largest underwater volcano. The Marsili volcano, which measures 70 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide, made headlines worldwide recently after geologists uncovered disturbing new information.

New research by the National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) in Italy, found that the volcano is losing magnetism and that its walls are weakening. Geologists say Marsili could collapse at any moment.

If the volcano's walls were to crumble, it would force thousands of tons of magma into the sea, setting off a tsunami.

"This could happen due to an eruption, seismic events - or another scenario - and these factors can change the equilibrium of the volcano," said Filipo Muccini, one of the authors of the report, who is based at the INGV office in the seaside town of Fezzano.

Geologists cannot predict when or how the Marsili volcano would erupt, but they predict a tsunami triggered by such an event would hit the coast of southern Italy, including the regions of Calabria and Campania, and the island of Sicily.

To read more: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5523731,00.html

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