, Volume 66, Issue 6, pp 514-530
Date: 02 Apr 2004

Volcanic hazard assessment at the restless Campi Flegrei caldera

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Abstract

Eruption forecasting and hazard assessments at the restless Campi Flegrei caldera, within the Neapolitan volcanic area, have been performed using stratigraphical, volcanological, structural and petrological data.

On the basis of the reconstructed variation of eruption magnitude through time, we hypothesize that the most probable maximum expected event is a medium-magnitude explosive eruption, fed by trachytic magma. Such an eruption could likely occur in the north-eastern sector of the caldera floor that is under a tensile stress regime, when the ongoing deformation will generate mechanical failure of the rocks. A vent could open also in the western sector, at the intersection of two fault systems contemporaneously activated, as happened in the last eruption at Monte Nuovo. The eruption could likely be preceded by precursors apparent to the population, such as ground deformation, seismicity and increase in gas emissions. It will probably alternate between magmatic and phreatomagmatic phases with the generation of tephra fallout, and dilute and turbulent pyroclastic currents. During and/or after the eruption, the re-mobilization of ash by likely heavy rains, could probably generate mud flows.

In order to perform a zoning of the territory in relation to the expected volcanic hazards, we have constructed a comprehensive hazard map. On this map are delimited (I) areas of variable probability of opening of a new vent, (II) areas which could be affected by variable load of fallout deposits, and (III) areas over which pyroclastic currents could flow. The areas in which a vent could likely open have been defined on the basis of the dynamics of the ongoing deformation of the caldera floor. To construct the fallout hazard map we have used the frequency of deposition of fallout beds thicker than 10 cm, the frequency of load on the ground by tephra fallout and the direction of dispersal axes of the deposits of the last 5 ka, and the limit load of collapse for the variable types of roof construction. The pyroclastic-current hazard map is based on the areal distribution and frequency of pyroclastic-current deposits of the last 5 ka.

Editorial Responsibility: T. Druitt