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Earthquake swarm hits Campi Flegrei caldera, Italy

earthquake swarm campi flegrei 7 days to may 21 2024 sam

A new seismic swarm started at Campi Flegrei area, Italy at 17:51 UTC on May 20, 2024. Local Earthquake monitoring network has detected around 150 quakes within the next couple of hours, with the strongest being M4.4 — now the strongest quake to hit the caldera region since the beginning of the current bradyseismic crisis in 2005. Preventive evacuations have thus far affected 36 families.

A notable seismic swarm started beneath the Campi Flegrei caldera in Italy at 17:51 UTC (19:51 local time) on May 20 with an M3.5 quake at a depth of 2.8 km (1.7 miles), signaling a period of heightened seismic activity in the region.

From 17:51 UTC to 22:31 UTC, INGV registered around 150 earthquakes.

The most energetic quake thus far reached a magnitude of 4.4 (±0.3). This event was recorded at 18:10 UTC at a depth of 2.6 km (1.6 miles).

The M4.4 event marks the strongest earthquake since the onset of the current bradyseismic crisis that began in 2005, according to the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).

The epicenter was located within the Solfatara, raising concerns about potential implications for the region.

campi flegrei seismic events between 00 utc on may 20 and 0031 utc on may 21 ingv
Image credit: INGV
m4.4 earthquake solfatara campi flegrei italy may 21 2024
Image credit: TW/SAM, ESRI. Earthquake data provided by INGV

Despite the recent surge in seismic events, there has been no notable increase in the ground uplift speed, which currently stands at 2 cm (0.8 inches) per month. Horizontal and local ground deformations have also remained consistent with previous trends, indicating a stable state at present.

“It should be remembered that during the bradyseismic crisis of 1982-84 the ground lifting reached 9 cm (3.5 inches) per month, and even 1 300 seismic events per month were exceeded,” volcanologists at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) said.

Since the beginning of May, INGV recorded approximately 450 earthquakes.

This swarm follows a much weaker earthquake sequence on May 18.

The INGV Vesuvian Observatory Section remains vigilant, maintaining round-the-clock monitoring activities to ensure the safety and preparedness of the region.

Campi Flegrei is a 13 km (8 km) wide caldera encompassing part of Naples and extending beneath the Gulf of Pozzuoli. It is the largest active urbanized caldera in the heart of the European continent and is classified as a supervolcano due to its potential for producing extremely large and explosive eruptions, as evidenced by past events like the Campanian Ignimbrite and Neapolitan Yellow Tuff eruptions.

While the current seismic swarm does not indicate an imminent volcanic eruption, the INGV emphasizes the importance of preparedness and vigilance in monitoring the evolving situation.

In Pozzuoli, the prefecture of Naples has taken decisive action in response to the escalating seismic activity, resulting in the evacuation of 36 families.

As part of a comprehensive strategy, the Rescue Coordination Center, established at the prefecture, has mobilized resources to address potential emergencies. Specifically, 400 cots from the Ministry of the Interior – Fire Department, stationed in Capua, have been dispatched to Bacoli and Pozzuoli. This preemptive deployment aims to ensure the immediate availability of essential supplies, should the situation worsen.

Amidst the unfolding crisis, there is a palpable sense of unease and apprehension among the local population, Agenzia Nova reports.

Armando Cozzuto, President of the Order of Psychologists of Campania, emphasized the psychological impact of such seismic events. He stresses the importance of timely intervention and the implementation of emergency psychology protocols to mitigate fear and prevent panic-induced behaviors. Cozzuto acknowledges the inevitability of fear in the face of real danger but underscores the need for a balanced response to avoid exacerbating the situation.

Organizations such as Psychologists for People and Sipem are actively involved in providing support and implementing protocols to contain and reframe traumatic experiences.

Their presence has helped alleviate tensions and fostered constructive dialogue among citizens, including children, who are particularly vulnerable to the psychological toll of natural disasters. By fostering open communication and providing age-appropriate explanations, psychologists and parents alike have worked together to ensure that the community remains resilient in the face of adversity.

Read more:

From January 1, 2024, to 07:52 UTC on May 21, INGV registered a total of 3 400 earthquakes in the Campi Flegrei area.

campi flegrei earthquakes in 2024 total to may 21 2024 - 2754
Earthquakes detected in the Campi Flegrei area, Italy from January 1 to May 21, 2024. Credit: INGV

The last eruptive episode Campi Flegrei lasted from September 29 to October 6, 1538 — VEI 3. The source of the eruption was at Solfatara — where today’s M4.4 and M3.9 were registered.


1 CAMPI FLEGREI | Sciame sismico del 20 maggio 2024 – INGV – May 21, 2024

2 Campi Flegrei – Geological summary – GVP

3 Seismic swarm at the Campi Flegrei: three close tremors of magnitude 3.5, 4.4 and 3.9 – Agencia Nova – May 20, 2024


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