Volcanoes Campi Flegrei in Italy, Sakurajima in Japan, Pavlof in Alaska, Popocatépetl in Mexico and Turrialba in Costa Rica among others showed signs of reawakening in the last semester of 2016.
The scientist community is sounding the alarm and warns about a chain of imminent eruptions.
Throughout history, volcanoes have inspired fear and admiration as well. Vesubio (Italy), Mount Tambora (Indonesia), Laki (Iceland), Mount St. Hellen (USA) and Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia) are just some of the volcanoes that have ravaged entire populations in different periods of time, killing thousands of people and turning vast areas into a desert of fire, ashes and sulfuric gases.
According to experts, it takes 500 years for a supervolcano to reawaken, even less. And this seems to be the case of Campli Flegrei in the west of Naples, Italy, an extensive volcanic that boasts 24 craters and its cauldron-like depression was formed 39,000 years before as part of the biggest eruption that Europe has experienced in the last 200,000 years.
A team of researchers led by volcanologist Giovanni Chiodini from the Italian National Institute of Geophysics in Rome assures that Campi Flegrei seems to be approaching a critical pressure point, a sign that could be read as announcing of an imminent eruption. The research team says that Campi Flegrai has registered an “uplift” since the last decade, what it means that the volatile gasses inside are rising to the surface at an unexpected rate, turning the alert level from green (or quiet) to yellow (or monitoring mode).
Another colossus, Sakurajima volcano at Japan’s Kyushu island, had a ‘bad awakening’ last April 29th after that two earthquakes shook that Asian country. Again, a team of experts considered Sakurajima could be close to a major eruption since it is being supplied with around 14 million cubic meters of magma each year, a growing potential to trigger an eruption within 30 years – or much less.
Sakurajima volcano’s last deadly eruption occurred in 1914 with a toll of 58 dead, gaining the infamous nickname of the Naples of the Eastern World.
The American continent doesn’t escape from this latent risk. Consider Pavlof volcano in Aleutian islands, Alaska, that erupted last March 28th. Since its burst, police, and geological service has kept the alert about “risk of air and land pollution”.
Recently, a new eruption sent ash and steam 34,000 feet into the air causing no injuries nor damages.
Similar moments of fear and confusion lived people of Puebla, Mexico, when the giant of fire Popocatepetl awoke with a concert of explosions and fume columns in March 2016. Last activity was made last December 1st when Puebla’s International Airport was reopened after being closed due to falling ash from the volcano. Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention informed that Popocatepetl has been sending water gases, ash and lava fragments since last March.
Popocatepetl is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world since a population of 25 million people living around.
Turrialba, the biggest of Costa Rica’s volcanoes, started to spew smoke and ash 9,840 feet into the sky last May 21st, causing breathing difficulties to hundreds of people who required medical attention. Since this awakening, Turrialba’s activity hasn´t stopped throughout 2016. In fact, operations of main Costa Rican Airport were suspended on September 21st after a Turrialba’s eruption sent a thick cloud of ashes and poisonous gasses, urging local residents to wear protective masks in order to undertake their daily tasks.
This trend of Turrialba’s sporadic ashes-spewing has kept until December 2016. It is important to remember that Turrialba volcano registered its last ‘big’ eruption in October 29th, 2014.
What people must do?
Should nearby residents from volcanic areas panic? Unfortunately, there is nothing they can do but being alert and attend to the authority’s recommendations. “In general, volcanology is not a precise science. We have many uncertainties and long-term provisions are at the moment not possible!