The Italian government is considering a mass evacuation plan for thousands of people living near the Campi Flegrei supervolcano in Naples.
While an eruption isn't imminent, officials are worried due to hundreds of small tremors rattling the densely populated volcanic region and are therefore taking steps to prepare the area for potential stronger tremors or eruptions.
"The seismic activity has been intensifying for months. We have observed over 3,000 tremors since the start of 2023," Gianfilippo De Astis, senior researcher at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, told The Associated Press. "Only 65, however, were above a 2.0 magnitude."
Naples is surrounded by three active volcanoes: Ischia to the west, Campi Flegrei to the northwest, and Somma-Vesuvius to the southeast.
But Campi Flegrei is part of a supervolcano, which means it can generate a magnitude 8 eruption, releasing over 240 cubic miles of material. Its surrounding area has experienced over 1,100 earthquakes, including a 4.0 tremor on Monday and a 4.2 magnitude quake last week — the most powerful in the region in 40 years.
Although Campi Flegrei’s last major eruption was in 1538, it has shown ongoing restlessness, experiencing notable spikes of unrest in the 1950s, 1970s, and 1980s, according to LiveScience.
The volcano's eruption could impact over 500,000 people in the area, and while the government is urging preparedness, Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci stated that evacuations would be a last resort unless there's an "extreme necessity," according to Reuters.
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