Tsunami warning in Italy: an underwater volcano could trigger a huge wave of 30 meters | Sciences | News

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Europe’s largest active volcano is located approximately 175 kilometers (109 miles) south of Naples. With a height of around 3,000 meters, a length of 70 kilometers (43 miles) and a width of 30 kilometers (19 miles), it eclipses Mount Etna, but is invisible to the eye because it is deeply underwater. . Marsili, named after Luigi Ferdinando Marsili, the Italian geologist who discovered it almost a hundred years ago, lies 450 meters below the water’s surface. Its volcanic activity is said to have started less than 200,000 years ago and is listed as one of the most dangerous submarine volcanoes in the Tyrrhenian Sea, alongside Magnaghi, Vavilov and Palinuro.

Volcanologists fear the relatively fragile-walled structure, made up of low-density, unstable rock, fed by the shallow magma chamber below.

In 2010, Italian experts announced that it could erupt at any time, with potentially catastrophic effects.

Recent models suggest that the eruption and associated landslides could trigger a massive tsunami, with a 30-meter-high wave likely to crash onto the Calabrian and Sicilian coasts.

Marsili has been studied since 2005, with a research vessel detecting considerable instability, and belongs to the volcanic arc of the Aeolian Islands, a chain of volcanoes formed above a subducting plate, off the north coast of the Sicily and the west coast of southern Italy.

Some of them formed islands, but not all.

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Tsunami warning in Italy: underwater volcano could trigger huge wave (Image: GETTY)

Aeolian Islands

Marsili lies below the surface of the volcanic arc of the Aeolian Islands. (Image: GETTY)

According to the BBC, for every visible island, ten additional volcanoes lurk below the surface.

Since the formation of Marsili about a million years ago, it is believed to have amassed some 80 eruptive cones, along with other openings that could also gush out of lava.

According to a report published in 2013 by Gondwana Research, the last eruption in Marsili occurred a few thousand years ago.

Guido Ventura, a volcanologist at the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, told the BBC that the lava and ash produced by any future eruption would likely be absorbed by the water above, and it is unlikely that they reach the ground nor harm the inhabitants.

However, he warned: “The danger is not the eruption, but the possible submarine landslides.

Aeolian Islands

For every visible Aeolian Island, ten more volcanoes lurk below the surface. (Image: GETTY)

Prior seismic movements or the eruption itself could trigger the collapse of the weakened rock, displacing a huge volume of water.

Worse yet, there would be virtually no warning of the impending tsunami.

In a 2010 interview, Enzo Boschi, a prominent vulcanologist told Correire della Serra: “It could even happen tomorrow.

Research has concluded that Marsili is not structurally sound and “could start to burst at any time.”

He added, “If the indications that have been gathered are accurate, it is impossible to make predictions. The risk is real but difficult to assess.

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Eruption of the Stromboli volcano in 2019.

The Stromboli volcano erupted in 2019. (Image: GETTY)

The poet Petrach recalled a devastating sea storm in 1343 that killed hundreds of people.

A recent study from the State University of New York suggested that it may have been caused by a tsunami.

Looking at another Italian volcano, Stromboli, archaeological evidence has offered a glimpse of an ancient landslide that reached the Calabrian coast.

Barely 20 years ago, the eruptions of Stromboli caused two tsunamis, although these did not reach the Italian mainland, but only the island itself.

Glauco Callotti, a physicist at the University of Bologna, echoed the idea that it is difficult to predict how much of a threat Marsili poses.

Tsunami

Experts have warned that a wave of up to 30m in height could hit the Italian coast. (Image: GETTY)

In an article published last year, his team considered five different scenarios.

The first two cases saw minimal water displacement, with a wave of only a few inches.

The worst-case scenario, however, involved the collapse of the south-central summit and eastern flank.

Calculations by Mr Gallotti’s team estimated that a 20-meter-high wave would reach Sicily and Calabria in 20 minutes.

The human cost of such a tsunami would depend on the season, says Gallotti.

He said: “Southern Italy is very crowded in the summer. “

Other volcanoes in the region also pose a threat such as Palinuro off the coast of Cilento.

Mr Gallotti and Mr Ventura both called for improving tsunami warning systems, especially if it could help save thousands of lives.