In a recent article (More Heavenly Tales-Camaldoli 2015) on his website, Jeff Matthews reminds us just how gigantic the Campi Flegrei caldera is—and just how deadly it would be if it decided to reawaken.
The point of departure for this consideration is the photo that accompanies our article. It was taken from the height of the Camaldoli Hill, the northern limit (rim) of the caldera. This impressive volcanic complex provides ample and unequivocal evidence of activity: the periodic up and down movements of the earth known as bradiseisms (currently in an “up” phase in Pozzuoli); active fumaroles at various points (Solfatara in Pozzuoli, Monte Nuovo, Ischia); countless thermal zones (Agnano, Pozzuoli, Ischia); frequent underwater gaseous emissions (in practically the entire coastal area); and the recent (in geological terms) volcanic activity (the formation of Monte Nuovo by the eruption of 1538). All this is evidence that the “monster” is simply sleeping but just as active as ever.
The dimensions of this structure (diamter between 12 and 15 km) and its intrinsic capacity to destroy (witness the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption of 39,000 years ago) make us aware that our better-known Neapolitan volcano, Vesuvius, is, by comparison, nothing more than a big, loud firecracker. On planet Earth there is an analogy, however; that is to be found in the USA in the other famous caldera, at Yellowstone National Park.
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