Underwater volcanism, a forgotten threat in the Mediterranean


Permanent gas eruptions from Panarea Volcano’s crater come directly from the magma chamber, which the submarine volcano shares with Stromboli. © Alexis Rosenfeld / UNESCO-1 Ocean

DECRYPTION – An eruption at the level of the ocean floor, sometimes very active, could cause a devastating tsunami.

“It’s a breathtaking atmosphere, one of the most striking landscapes I have ever seen. It’s like being at the gates of hell.” The emotion felt by Alexis Rosenfeld during his last expedition is still palpable. The explorer photographer, founder of the 1 Ocean project, carried out a mission in early June with UNESCO off the Aeolian Islands, north of Sicily. He had the opportunity to dive in an area of ​​very active underwater volcanism, where the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) is carrying out a lot of research, in particular to better understand the risk of tsunamis.

Bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea, Panarea is one of the most touristic of the Aeolian Islands. But it is also the closest to Stromboli Island, where a major eruption occurred again last May. The threat to the small island, however, could be more devious. Its waters are home to the largest underwater hydrothermal system…

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