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. boner

    stupid moderator removing my comment.
    what happened to the first amendment you arrogant bastards?

    March 30, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mr.Science

    "Dang! I hope everyone is keeping their faith in the Lord because the Earth is falling apart. No one knows when He's coming but only that He is coming! Only God knows"!
    Posted by: Cristine

    How on earth did you manage to turn a logical interesting article into bible crap? Sheesh

    March 30, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Carlos Avila

    Unfortunately, the continuous oil burning, have caused the increase of global temperature and the shrinking of the glaciers. The glaciers melting, have been changing the planets structure, and caused earthquakes more frequent, 'cause the glaciers ice were holding the plates tectonics preventing them to move abrubtly. The more the glaciers melts, the more the continental drift will move too, causing underground volcanic rocks to brake, causing faults and fissures and re-activating the volcanoes. So, very soon we will see more volcanoes real close to enter into eruptions. And, Not because the bible mention it, and neither because the Mayas said it, but we know that something deadly destructive will happen soon to the planet and humanity!!!...., because the planet's climate is changing and so is the global temperature, the ozone layer is disappearing, animals are losing their habitats, severe storms are increasing in destructive power, so many earthquakes in the last few days, one after another after a few days separated. Since last September last year, 2009, I said that the glaciers melting would cause an increase of earthquakes, tsunamis, and later on volcanic eruptions. The other day, the Iceland volcano entered into eruption 'cause of several small quakes underneath. Now, this volcano in Europe, which is about to collapse. I'm telling the politicians, scientists and oil companies, you're killing and destroying for money, the planet, humanity and yourselves.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Zulu

    This is small potatoes. What I'M worried about is that the mountain of crap in my closet will collapse, triggering the Cascadia Subduction Zone and wiping out the Pacific Northwest.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. valerie

    whooo doggy! dang i hope that doesnt happen! it would be like letting all the water in the alabamaa river into italy! well id be darnded

    March 30, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. uncle jo

    what the fahoodagin!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Skeptical

    This is so ridiculously decieving. Look at the scales of these pictures. The one on the left has a -1000 to 1500 range, the blueish color means 0-250. The scale on the right, has the SAME readings, just smaller magnitude range and different colors. So essentially the red on the right means the SAME thing as the blue on the left. Ridiculous...

    March 30, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Scott

    Sheesh if only you could say something good about the bible and not have to worry about the moderator removing your comment.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. boner

    scott go to church if you want to talk about the bible. This has nothing to do with that crap, this is SCIENCE. You know, science that proves religion is a myth.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Greg

    I hope this does not happen, because l'eolie, sicilia, and the rest of Italy are some of the most beautiful places on earth.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Frank

    The Earth is constanly active, no doubt. It doesn't care if we are here or not. Volcanoes have nothing to do with the global warming, Carlos, get it right. You're mixing apples and oranges. God in his infinite wisdom has plans sure, but I doubt we can read any of it into what is happening with all the earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. We live in an information age where we now ALL have access to this information that has heretofore not been as widely and quickly spread and we now know more about how the Earth works than ever but it is all up to mother nature and we've nothing to do except sit back, live our lives and hope for the best. I am fascinated by it all, personally, but hope it doesn't happen. I LOVE Italy! 🙂

    March 30, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brendan

    yeah well with the guy who posted 3 down from me, yes volcano can be active even if for a thousand years but recent activity is coming to life with the one to believe that considering i live around Mt Baker, Mt Rainer, and Mt St Helens

    March 30, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Odysseus

    I think its neat they can learn so much by analysing the erasing of the magnetic record.
    I'm not sure what they mean by gravitic anomolies, but I can guess there's some real density variation going on. Skeptical might not get it. These researchers might not get it right either, but at least they are learning the indicators.

    March 31, 2010 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sandra

    I live in Sicily and I hope and pray to God this doesn't happen,,,, I didn'9t know anything about it untill a friend from Australia told me and said iyt had been on the news over there, yet we heard nothing here about it !

    March 31, 2010 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. David

    The word tsunami has become a buzzword associated with almost every marine seismic event since the Indonesian tsunami. Could it happen? Sure. Will it happen and will it be as bad as could possibly be imagined? Who knows?

    Liken it to the 50s-70s when every time someone saw a strange light in the sky they said "UFO!" I realize that tsunamis are obviously a proven, tangible event compared to UFOs but the concept remains the same. Ten years ago there were probably many people who didn't even know what a tsunami was in the west. After the Indonesian tsunami, everyone does. Shows start popping up on science channels talking about past tsunamis or where one could happen. Every time an earthquake happens in an ocean someplace, whether or not a tsunami alert is issued is mentioned.

    When that big earthquake hit Argentina, how many people were glued to their sets, waiting for the tsunami to hit Hawaii, only to be met by an event that a California surfer would probably laugh at? Even though there was proof of an actual tsunami, as time passed, the projections became lower and lower.

    I would hope the people that live in that area are informed and prepared for such an event and that it doesn't happen but it's a little soon to be yelling apocalypse.

    March 31, 2010 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
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