How many active volcanoes are there in Italy? Information and curiosities about the most dangerous ones

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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The word "volcano" evokes two things in us Italians: Etna and Vesuvius. But are we sure that there are no others in our country? But above all, can we rest assured? We give you a hand to understand what the situation is Italian volcanoes and their hypothetical danger.
First of all we make some clarifications: that What exactly a volcano? It is a complex geological structure that is generated inside the earth's crust by the rise, following eruptive activity, of molten rock mass. This substance is what is called magma. A volcano not only erupts the latter, but also: lava, ash, lapilli, gas, various waste and water vapor.

On the earth's surface the 91% of volcanoes are submarine (mostly located along the mid-ocean ridges) while about 1500 are those today active on emerged lands. Volcanoes can erupt quietly (effusive) or explosively. The factors that affect the characteristics of a volcano are the viscosity of the magma and its silica content, on which the composition of the magma itself depends.
E in Italy.?
On our territory there are at least ten active volcanoes, that is, they have given manifestations in the last 10.000 years. Let's find out which ...


  1. Active volcanoes
  2. Dormant volcanoes
  3. Extinct volcanoes
  4. User questions and comments

Active volcanoes

Of the ten active volcanoes, only Stromboli and Etna show persistent activity, that is, they have continuous eruptions or separated by short periods of rest. All our volcanoes are constantly monitored and studied.

1 - Etna

  • Where is it: Sicily, province of Catania
  • Dimensions: 3329 m
  • Last activity: 24 May 2016
  • Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI): 2/8

Also called Mongibello or 'A Muntagna by the Sicilians, it is the highest volcano in Europe. It erupts both from the four summit craters and from the flanks, at intervals that can last from a few months to 20 years. It has both effusive (with very liquid basaltic magma flows) and explosive activity. Not rarely,indeed, it "spits" thick columns of ash and gas, also visible from space. In doing so, it hurls all around the rocks produced by its own eruptions (pyroclasts). Kept under strict control by the geologists of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, it is predictable enough not to pose a great danger. In 2013 it was declared by Unesco World Heritage Site.
Video of the latest eruptions:

2 - Stromboli

  • Where is it: Sicilian Tyrrhenian Sea - Aeolian Islands
  • Dimensions: 926 m
  • Last activity: 9 October 2016
  • Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI): 1/8

It is a volcano that emerges from the sea and has avery characteristic eruptive activity: it expels, at regular intervals, shreds of incandescent magma up to heights of a few hundred meters. Lava and pyroclasts then pour into the sea through a steep slope called Sciara del Fuoco (fire road).

3 - Ischia

  • Where is it: Flegrean Islands - Gulf of Naples (Campania)
  • Dimensions: 900 m
  • Last activity: 1302
  • Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI): Data Not Available

Perhaps it will be a surprise for some but Ischia is also to be considered an active volcano.
Even if it does not present as dynamic activities as the other volcanoes, Ischia still represents a possible danger. The intense hydrothermal activity, the fumarolic phenomena, the bradyseisms, the recent earthquakes and the eruptive history, indicate that the Island of Ischia is to be considered an active volcano in all respects. This is because there are phenomena of magma rising, even if no real eruption has recently occurred. On the island they live permanently about 50.000 people (to which the numerous commuter and seasonal tourist presences): in the event of a violent resumption of activity, they could be evacuated exclusively by sea. A big problem not to be underestimated at all ...

Dormant volcanoes

They are the so-called quiescent volcanoes, ie those that have erupted in the last ten thousand years but are currently in a resting phase. Some quiescent volcanoes show secondary volcanism phenomena such as degassing from the soil and fumaroles.

1 - Vesuvius

  • Where is it: province of Naples (Campania)
  • Dimensions: 1281 m
  • Last activity: 1944

Vesuvius, or more properly Somma-Vesuvius, it is one of the most studied volcanoes in the world. Its explosive eruptions can launch gas, ash and vapors at very high speed and hundreds of kilometers away. Everyone, in fact, knows the unfortunately famous eruption of 79 AD. that buried the nearby cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum under a cloud of ash and pumice rocks. The volcano has been in "hibernation" since 1944, but is perfectly active. Her danger it is determined by the fact that it rises in an area densely inhabited by millions of inhabitants.

2 - Campi Flegrei

  • Where is it: province of Naples (Campania)
  • Dimensions: 458 m
  • Last activity: 1538

Another high-risk volcanic area, albeit silent for the moment, is that of Campi Flegrei. The last eruption in this area, constantly monitored, dates back to 1538. Despite this, there is a periodic sinking and lifting of the soil known as bradyseism.

3 - Alban Hills

  • Where is it: province of Rome (Lazio)
  • Dimensions: 956 m
  • Last activity: 5000 years ago

Il Latium volcano is the geological structure of the Alban Hills, the current landscape of the Castelli Romani territory. Currently, this volcanic area maintains a fair activity, consisting mainly of gaseous emissions (even highly toxic), deformations in the ground and frequent and weak seismic tremors. The fact that the volcano is quiescent and has had resting phases of up to 30-40.000 years between one eruptive phase and another, raises the problem of its possible future awakening. It therefore constitutes a potential danger for all the inhabitants of the villages of the Alban Hills and for the millions of inhabitants of Rome.

4 - Volcano

  • Where is it: Sicilian Tyrrhenian Sea - Aeolian Islands
  • Dimensions: 386 m
  • Last activity: 1888/1890

The island owes its existence to the merger of some volcanoes. The largest is the Volcano of the Fossa. Although the last eruption took place in 1888/1890, the volcano has never ceased to show its vitality. Even today, in fact, various phenomena can be observed: fumaroles, jets of steam both on the crest and submarines and the presence of sulphurous mud with appreciated therapeutic properties. In the north, numerous fumaroles continue to emit boric acid, ammonium chloride and sulfur. View the toxicity of the gases emitted, it is possible to approach them only accompanied by authorized guides.

5 - Lipari

  • Where is it: Sicilian Tyrrhenian Sea - Aeolian Islands
  • Dimensions: 37 Km²
  • Last activity: about 1400 years ago

L'Lipari island, like all the Aeolian Islands, is the result of a complex series of volcanic eruptionsThe last volcanic products are linked to the activity of Forgia Vecchia, consisting of modest quantities of white pumiceous pyroclasticites followed by the release of a lava flow.

6 - Pantelleria

  • Where is it: Strait of Sicily, Mediterranean Sea
  • Dimensions: 836 m
  • Last activity: 1891

It is the largest of the satellite islands of Sicily. It has an area of ​​83 km² and is the westernmost island of this group. It is located 120 km from Sicily and 70 from the Tunisian coast. His territory is of volcanic origin. Presents many secondary volcanism phenomena, especially warm waters and fumes that demonstrate the persistence of the volcano's activity.

7 - Ferdinandea Island

  • Where is it: submerged, Strait of Sicily, Mediterranean Sea - Coordinates: 37 ° 10′00 ″ N 12 ° 43′00 ″ E
  • Dimensions: Maximum altitude - 6,9 m depth
  • Last activity: 1831

Ferdinandea Island is a vast rocky platform located about 6 meters from the sea surface. It constitutes the remains of a volcanic system that emerged in 1831, following the submarine eruption of a volcano: thus it rose from the water forming the island, which grew to an area of ​​about 4 km² and 65 m of height. Being mainly composed of tephra, an eruptive rocky material easily eroded by the action of the sea waves, Ferdinandea Island did not have a long life. Once the eruptive episode ended, there was a rapid erosion of the island, disappearance then definitely under the waves in January of 1832. Thus, the international disputes concerning its sovereignty were temporarily ended. Thanks to recent research, it has been discovered that the current bank constitutes, together with the nearby Terrible and Nerita banks one of the accessory cones of the Empedocles underwater volcano: it is comparable to Etna for the width of the base and rises about 500 meters from the seabed. In 2002 a renewed seismic activity in the area led volcanologists to suspect a new and imminent eruptive episode, with a subsequent consequent new emergence of the island. To avoid a new dispute over its sovereignty in advance, some Italian divers have planted a tricolor flag on the top of the volcano whose re-emergence was expected. The eruption, however, did not occur and the top of Ferdinandea Island remained about 8 meters below sea level. The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology discovered in 2012 the presence of 9 distinct volcanic craters, which should correspond to as many eruptions in the area.

Extinct volcanoes

Those volcanoes whose last certain and documentable eruption dates back to over ten thousand years ago are defined as extinct or extinct.

1 - Monte Vulture

  • Where is it: Basilicata, province of Potenza
  • Dimensions: 1326 m
  • Latest activity: Upper Pleistocene

The Vulture is a volcano off. Today its slopes are entirely covered by dense and luxuriant vegetation, made such by the natural fertility of the soils that develop from volcanic rocks. Here are the two lakes of Monticchio, typical volcanic. Extended and precious chestnut woods are found on this volcano: the Marroncino di Melfi PDO. is the protected denomination of the delicious local chestnuts. In the area of ​​Monte Vulture, more than 1500 hectares of red Aglianico grape. Aglianico del Vulture is counted among the greatest red wines in Italy. On the slopes there are numerous establishments forbottling of mineral water and several inhabited centers, including: Melfi, Rapolla, Barile, Rionero in Vulture and Atella.

2 - Roccamonfina

  • Where is it: Campania, province of Caserta
  • Dimensions: 1005 m
  • Last activity: 50.000 years ago

Currently the volcano looks like a large cone isolated in the mountains Aurunci, the plain and the valley of the Garigliano river, the massif of Monte Massico, Monte Maggiore and Monte Cesima. The ancient volcanic activity, now ceased for a very long time, continues only with seismic movements and thermal springs of low mineral content waters. The fertility of the soil allowed the creation of dense chestnut woods. The volcano is part of the Regional Park of Roccamonfina-Foce Garigliano, established in 1999. Various types of minerals have been found around the volcano.

3 - Monti Cimini

  • Where it is: Lazio
  • Dimensions: 1053 m
  • Last activity: 95.000 years ago

These mountains constitute what remains of the perimeter crown of two volcanic systems: an older one, the Cimino volcano with Monte Cimino, and a more recent one, the Vicano volcano with Monte Fogliano. Today the centuries-old Faggeta Del Monte Cimino covers the summit. Mount Venere today hosts in its caldera the Lake Vico, which preserves the typical features of the roughness of the volcanic sides better than any other lake of this type in Italy.

4 - Volsini Mountains

  • Where it is: Lazio, Umbria, Tuscany - provinces of Viterbo, Terni, Grosseto
  • Dimensions: 690 m
  • Last activity: 600.000 years ago

The Volsini Mountains are one hilly chain of volcanic origin which is located around the basin of Lake Bolsena. The Volsini Mountains belonged to Vulsinio volcanic complex from which the lake and the hills themselves were born. As a reminder of that ancient volcanic activity, the Conca di Latera remains, the last remnant of an ancient volcano. Recently it was decided to exploit the last residues of volcanic activity thanks to the construction of some geothermal power plants. One of these should be born on the Alfina plateau and another was built in Latera, but the power plant turned out to be counterproductive. Its emissions, rich in sulfur and other acids, caused damage to agriculture and tourism. In 1997, ENEL therefore decided to close the plant and bring the geothermal resources to Monte Amiata.

5 - Monte Amiata

  • Where is it: Tuscany - provinces of Grosseto and Siena
  • Dimensions: 1738 m
  • Last activity: 700.000 years ago

It is an ancient volcano, now extinct, with presence of rocks and lakes of volcanic origin. There are also the sources of rivers Fiora, Vivo, Albegna and Paglia. The volcanic origins of the mountain massif have maintained seismic activity in the area. Among the various events, to remember the earthquake of 1948 with the epicenter of the mountain area between the provinces of Grosseto and Siena. In the Amiata area there are numerous protected areas: the Natural Reserves of Monte Labbro, Pescinello, Bosco dei Rocconi, Poggio all'Olmo, Santissima Trinità, Monte Penna. Here is also an important wildlife park.

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