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Thursday 23 November 2017

Fears of Rome volcano grow after earthquakes

Cracks on the ceiling of the Saint Eustace church are seen a day after Sunday's 6.6 magnitude earthquake, in Rome. Photo: AP
Cracks on the ceiling of the Saint Eustace church are seen a day after Sunday's 6.6 magnitude earthquake, in Rome. Photo: AP

Chiara Palazzo in Rome

A series of earthquakes which struck central Italy in the past two months has sparked fears that the country's capital may be at risk from a volcano.

The tremors - all followed by powerful aftershocks - proved the final straw for a number of important architectural landmarks, including the Abbey of Sant-Eutizio in Umbria, and damaged several churches and buildings in the heart of Rome, including the Colosseum.

While scientists say there is no risk that Rome will be hit by a 'big one', something different may be threatening the Eternal City - a dormant volcano.

Situated on Rome's doorstep, the volcano is showing signs of activity which, combined with the seismic history of the area, would indicate it is slowly reactivating, an international team of scientists say.

However, inhabitants need not worry yet: while in geological terms the eruption is considered to be imminent, it's far away on a human scale - about a thousand years.

Chambers 5km to 10km under the residential areas of Ariccia, Castel Gandolfo, Albano and other 'Roman castles' are filling with magma and the ground is rising 2-3mm per year, the scientists say in the study, published in 'Geophysical Research Letters' in July.

Long pauses between activity are the main worry.

"When the eruption happens, it has an explosive effect, like opening a Champagne bottle after shaking it," Fabrizio Marra, from the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, told Italian daily 'La Repubblica'.

Telegraph.co.uk

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