Will Drilling Into A Volcano Save Naples?
Naples or Napoli, the capital of Campania, Italy, is known for many things - It's rich history, culture, architecture, music and most importantly, for inventing pizza. However, the city's location, right near, Mount Vesuvius, an active volcano that has erupted 50 times since that fateful day in 79 A.D., when it buried Pompeii and its sister city, Herculaneum. Now, geologists are trying to see if they can predict the next major eruption and save the beautiful city of Naples, from a similar fate.
One of the major sources of concern is Camp Flegrei, that lies within the volcanic arc of Vesuvius. While it hasn't erupted since 1538, over the last forty years, scientists have observed some movements and a gradual swelling in the surrounding area, leading them to speculate that it may be getting ready to erupt again.
To try pre-empt it, sometime this month, geologists are planning to drill down 4,000 meters (13,000 ft.) into the volcano's Caldera - the cauldron-like feature that forms when land collapses following a volcanic eruption. By doing so, they plan to get in the vicinity of the volcano's magma, that is simmering below.
Once they can pinpoint the exact location, they will lower monitoring equipment that they believe will keep tabs on the volcano and warn them of any unusual activity.
If they succeed, the technique could be used to avert many volcanic disasters around the world. However, there is a strong possibility that the idea may not work, because monitoring equipment has never been tested in such hot conditions.
But the bigger fear is that the drilling may trigger an eruption or lead to earthquakes. A similar project undertaken in Iceland last year was stopped abruptly, after the magma was discovered to be much closer to the surface, than had been previously estimated.
However, the advocates for the drilling in Naples, are sure that the magma in this area is much deeper and, that the drilling will not instigate any unexpected events. We will just have to keep our fingers crossed and see what happens next.