March 30th, 2010
11:32 AM ET

Experts: Undersea volcano may collapse, cause tsunami

These images of the Marsili volcano show magnetic and gravity anomalies, which researchers say increase chances of a collapse.

The walls of the largest underwater volcano in Europe could collapse, releasing thousands of tons of magma, which would trigger a tsunami that would likely inundate southern Italy, experts at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology told CNN.

The Marsili volcano, which has an active magma chamber, also has areas losing magnetism and a large amount of weak and permeable rocks supporting it, which researchers said means that the walls could essentially crumble at any time with the right seismic activity.

And if that happens – the result could be catastrophic.

“Collapses of large portions of submarine volcanic rocks represent a major risk for tsunami generation producing some of the most destructive events,” according to an article co-written by Cosmo Carmisciano, who works with the he National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).

Researchers have discovered that portions of the Marsili volcano have already collapsed - and history has shown that the Tyrrhenian Sea, where Marsili is located, has a past evidence of tsunamis.

“Similar large collapses may well take place in the future of Marsali,” Carmisciano said.

When it happens is anyone’s guess – the Marsili volcano hasn’t erupted since researchers began watching it. But below the surface, researchers say the Marsili is definitely active and an eruption could come at anytime. If a tsunami was triggered, it could impact the areas of Sicily and Sardinia, researchers said.

“It could even happen tomorrow," Enzo Bosch Boschi, president INGV told Italy’s Corriere della Sera. "A rupture of the walls would let loose millions of cubic meters of material capable of generating a very powerful wave."

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. mjk

    So let me get this straight: There are volcanos on earth that could cause major catastrophes in the future.

    WOW. What an enlightening piece of work. Mallory Simon should get a doddamned Pulizer prize.

    March 30, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rand

    Well now, another ta ta about a volcano which is going cause mayhem,

    As others have remarked, the situation is normal, live with it. Rand

    March 30, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    Im guessing that at some point this will be George Bush's fault, or at the very least they will tie it in to global warming/cooling/change/scam

    March 30, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Marie

    The volcano is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea in the Region of Calabria. You can see the volcano smoking if you are standing on the hill of a small town called Tropea, Italy, which happens to be the town my husband and i are considering buying a condo. It is a beautiful fishing town with beautiful beaches, and i hope is still there in September, when we intend on going there.

    March 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    GOOGLE indicates the volcano is near Italy/Naples.

    March 30, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rich

    Science news is still news, so go on if you don't want to read the story. I've never heard of this before and found it interesting. There will always be someone for whom this is news. By the standards of some of you there can never be science stories about the Dinosaurs because they've been dead for 65 million years or stories about the Big Bang because it happened 20 billion years ago...

    March 30, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Axl

    If you think people don't need to be reminded of the dangers at their doorstep, think again.
    A megatsunami measuring over 1700 feet (taller than the Empire State Building!!) happened in Alaska's Lituya Bay in 1958. Southern Italy is arguably the most dangerous place on earth with 3 million people living around Mount Vesuvius above ground and Marsili lurking in the water.

    A violent volcanic collapse and water flooding into the magma chamber led to cataclysmic tsunamis accompanying the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.

    March 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dwighthuth

    Sounds exciting, can't wait

    March 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andy

    I love how the media is feeding the public with fear about every act of mother nature. In 2009, there were 30,000 earthquakes in the world...why is it that this year, they have decided to report every single shake/tremor on the front page?

    Move it along people...nothing new to see here.

    March 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kate

    Could the extra seismic activity be caused by all of the recent earthquakes occurring around the world? Or maybe a volcanic eruption would not only cause a tsunami, but also an earthquake?

    March 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andy

    Oh, and by the way "Cristine", the world is not "falling apart." This is no substantial difference than any other year.

    March 30, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Emily - Minnesota

    I'm going there in May for school and I will be watching this closely.

    Any ideas at how catastrophic it will actually get?

    March 30, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bidee

    Some of these ciomments put truth to the saying: The ignorance of the masses never ceases to amaze me.

    March 30, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SteveK

    It's always interesting to read about our fascinating planet and the seemingly endless possibilities it presents – even if destruction really isn't imminent.

    It's always depressing to read posts by fatheads who mock every story for not being interesting enough for them.

    March 30, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. T

    okay scary, i live in Bermuda which is approx. 21 miles long 6 miles wide and our island is top of a volcano

    March 30, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
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