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. Francesco

    Hello everyone my name is Francesco and I live near Rome. I travel often in the Tyrrhenian Sea and have recently been in the Aeolian Islands.
    I can assure you that there have been several earthquakes in the Tyrrhenian area where is situated the volcano Marsili recorded since the eighteenth century.
    The exact location of the submarine volcano Marsili is
    14 ° 22 '34 "E
    39 ° 12 '35 "N

    Mount Marsili and 'a huge underwater volcano, the more' big across Europe, which is located 150 kilometers off the coast of Campania. Today the volcano is underwater again to fear, worrying about the people living in those areas, some investigations into its final hours have alerted the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, who announced that the volcano, which is three thousand meters in depth ', under the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and has a structure 70 km long and 30 wide, in addition to a crater which is 450 meters from the water surface, can explode at any time.
    The risk of a tsunami in our region remains a low risk.
    What worries us are the frequent marine earthquakes, often of very high magnitude as that of September 5, 2002 off the northern coast of Sicily (M6.0). Likewise the coast and the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands (islands of Vulcano, Panarea, Filicudi, Stromboli) are subject to constant earthquakes show no obvious volcanic activity, even if they can worry.
    If you have any question, I will be happy to answer them, apologizing for not perfect English.

    April 19, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • michelle

      we are due to cruise the med,in june,visiting scily,rome, florence, naples ect... am really wondering if its safe!

      June 1, 2010 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Rob


    August 30, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Zoey

    Hi Everybody!!!
    Let's forget all about it......Relax and enjoy life to the full!!!.......and when it comes, run for your life!!!.....BE PREPARED!!!
    With all my love from Malta!

    March 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Antonia

    Well it's very,very frightening............I pray that it will never come!But a lot of things are happening around the world.......that makes you think and wonder!I'm from Malta and I got very worried when I read this article!

    March 15, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. stephen

    The world is going crazy

    March 16, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Justin

    Hi franceso your english is great
    how far do you think the damage will get? do you think that malta will be reached with the tsunamis if or when it will happen? thank you

    March 16, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      Probably not as Sicily is between Malta and the volcano in question. Ultimately it depends on the size and power of the wave. If its high and powerful enough to pass over the entire island of Sicily, then yes.

      March 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Karol

    I am from Malta and i hope that the Marsili submarine underwater volcano that doesn't erupt never because then there would be trouble for sure i guess as was mentioned by Alan the post before this one.All island would sink i guess if ever a large tsunami caused by the underwater volcano would hit malta.But anyway it is far from Malta so it's difficult that if it erupts there is a chance of hitting malta.The last powerful tsunami that hit Malta dates back to year 1963 because of the earthquake that happened in Sicily

    March 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Karol

    sorry there was a mistake in my last post ps* 1963 earthquake of Sicily : there as not a powerful tsunami which hit malta but the earthquake made damage especially in Mdina

    March 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. andre galea

    can this tsunami/volcano effect malta? pls answer me.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John

    This will happen soon.2 mountains under the sea and another will slide infront of them and then the sea will rise.

    June 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
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