Playing With Magma

Drilling deep into the earth to learn how to mitigate volcanic disaster is risky, if the probing gets too close to disaster itself.

In an article on the Popular Science website, Clay Dillow says geologists in Naples will soon sink seven four-kilometer bore holes into one of Earth’s most volcanically risky places.

“Explosions caused by super-hot magma flooding into the borehole and vaporizing the drilling fluid are common in such projects,” Dillow writes.

Campi Flegrei caldera was the site of a “supercolossal” volcanic eruption 39,000 years ago. In more recent centuries it has a history of raising the Earth’s crust, which has risen again since the 1960s. Scientists fear the volcano may be due for another eruption and hope to better understand where magma might surface prior to eruptions, and where fracture zones and pockets of magma are located.

But critics fear the research designed to mitigate disaster could instead be its cause, according to the article. They say a worst-case scenario explosion, caused by hitting a main vein of pressurized magma, could destroy Naples.

To read the article, please click here:
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2009-11/will-drilling-volcano-trigger-eruption-destroys-naples