Strongest Earthquake in Decades Hits Italy’s Campi Flegrei Supervolcano Region

Strongest Earthquake in Decades Hits Italy’s Campi Flegrei Supervolcano Region

On Monday evening, the strongest earthquake in decades struck Italy’s Campi Flegrei supervolcano region. The 4.4 magnitude earthquake caused mild damage in the nearby town of Pozzuoli and as far away as the city of Naples.

Seismic Activity

The quake occurred at a depth of three kilometers and was part of an ongoing “seismic storm.” This seismic activity has included over a dozen events with magnitudes greater than 2.0 in recent days. The 4.4 tremor at 8:10 pm local time followed a 3.5 magnitude earthquake that had occurred just an hour earlier.

Historical Context

Campi Flegrei is a constellation of ancient volcanic craters located across the bay of Naples from Pompeii. The last major eruption of this supervolcano occurred in 1538. Notably, one of its most significant eruptions took place around 39,000 years ago and might have contributed to the extinction of Neanderthal man.

Population and Risks

The supervolcano is significantly larger than Mount Vesuvius, with a caldera diameter of about 12-15 km (7.5-9.3 miles). If it were to erupt at full force, it could potentially kill hundreds of thousands of people. Approximately half a million people live in the immediate region around Campi Flegrei.

Seismic Monitoring and Preparedness

The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) recorded over 1,000 earthquakes in the Campi Flegrei area in April 2024, most of which had magnitudes less than 1.0. The INGV has noted an increase in seismic activity since 2022. Giuseppe De Natale, former head of the Vesuvius observatory at INGV, has previously emphasized the need for evacuation plans. In response, the Italian Civil Protection agency has been working to update evacuation plans in case of a major disaster.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs):

  1. What was the magnitude of the strongest earthquake to hit the Campi Flegrei supervolcano region in decades?
    A. 3.5
    B. 4.4
    C. 5.0
    D. 6.0
    Answer: B. 4.4
  2. How deep was the earthquake that struck the Campi Flegrei region?
    A. 1 kilometer
    B. 2 kilometers
    C. 3 kilometers
    D. 4 kilometers
    Answer: C. 3 kilometers
  3. What is the diameter range of the Campi Flegrei caldera?
    A. 5-8 km
    B. 9-12 km
    C. 12-15 km
    D. 15-18 km
    Answer: C. 12-15 km
  4. When was the last major eruption of the Campi Flegrei supervolcano?
    A. 79 AD
    B. 1538
    C. 1938
    D. 2022
    Answer: B. 1538
  5. How many earthquakes did the INGV record in the Campi Flegrei area in April 2024?
    A. More than 500
    B. Exactly 1000
    C. More than 1000
    D. Less than 500
    Answer: C. More than 1000
  6. What significant event is associated with one of Campi Flegrei’s biggest eruptions approximately 39,000 years ago?
    A. The extinction of dinosaurs
    B. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius
    C. The extinction of Neanderthal man
    D. The formation of the Mediterranean Sea
    Answer: C. The extinction of Neanderthal man
  7. Who has emphasized the need for evacuation plans in light of increased seismic activity at Campi Flegrei?
    A. The mayor of Naples
    B. The Italian Prime Minister
    C. Giuseppe De Natale
    D. The President of Italy
    Answer: C. Giuseppe De Natale