Europe’s largest undersea volcano could disintegrate and unleash a tsunami that would engulf southern Italy “at any time”, a prominent volcanologist has warned.
The Marsili volcano, which is bursting with magma, has “fragile walls” that could collapse, Enzo Boschi told the daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.
“It could even happen tomorrow,” said Mr Boschi, president of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).
“Our latest research shows that the volcano is not structurally solid, its walls are fragile, the magma chamber is of sizeable dimensions,” he said.
“All that tells us that the volcano is active and could begin erupting at any time.”
The event would result in “a strong tsunami that could strike the coasts of Campania, Calabria and Sicily,” Mr Boschi said.
The undersea Marsili, 9,800ft (3,000m) tall and located some 90 miles (150km) southwest of Naples, has not erupted since the start of recorded history.
It is 43 miles (70km) long and 19 miles (30km) wide, and its crater is some 1,476ft (450m) below the surface of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
“A rupture of the walls would let loose millions of cubic metres of material capable of generating a very powerful wave,” Mr Boschi said.
“While the indications that have been collected are precise, it is impossible to make predictions. The risk is real but hard to evaluate.”