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Drilling at Campi Flegrei Caldera (Southern Italy)



Campi-Flegrei CalderaCampi Flegrei caldera is an active volcanic area marked by a quasi-circular caldera depression, formed by huge ignimbritic eruptions. The caldera has recently experienced intense deformation, originating uplift phenomena of more than 3.5 m in 15 years, with maximum rates of 1 m/year in the period 1982-1984, which caused the temporary evacuation of 30,000 people from the centre of Pozzuoli and exposed more than 500,000 the risk of pyroclastic flows (several millions in case of an ignimbritic eruption).
The role of deep drilling at this area is then crucial. It will give a fundamental, precise insight into the shallow substructure, the geometry and character of the geothermal systems and their role in the unrest episodes, as well as to explain magma chemistry and the mechanisms of magma-water interaction. Detailed studies of ‘in situ' physical properties (e.g. temperature, sonic logs, permeability), at increasing depths will provide information about their evolution. Since Campi Flegrei is a typical example of collapse caldera, the inference about its substructure, thermal state, magma chamber and geothermal system will allow a considerable scientific step towards the understanding of the most peculiar and potentially catastrophic volcanic areas of the World.
The ‘Campi Flegrei Deep Drilling Project', approved in 2009 by ICDP, will be afforded in two steps. The first step, starting in October-November 2010, will be the drilling of a pilot hole, with depth of about 500 m, aimed to infer mechanical properties and temperatures of the host rocks, in order to plan the deep drilling and deviation in detail. The pilot hole is also aimed to study the volcanic stratigraphy of the eastern caldera border and to host innovative borehole sensors for volcano monitoring and risk mitigation. The second and final step, starting at the end of 2011, will be the drilling of a deep hole reaching 3.8 km of depth, deviated 25° from the vertical starting at a depth around 500 m, for a total offset of 1.5 km. Such a deep hole, which will reach hot temperatures likely around 500°C, is aimed to study in detail mechanical, thermal and fluid-dynamical properties of the whole geothermal system, putting firm constraints on the interpretation of unrest and pre-eruptive episodes. Moreover, the deeper part of the hole, lying below the maximum depth of aquifers, is aimed to determine, by linear extrapolation of the purely conductive gradient, the depth of shallowest magma pockets.

(Figure©: sketch of Campi Flegrei Deep Drilling Project using aerophotography on DEM)



Europe, Italy, Gulf of Pozzuoli, Naples Bay, Campi Flegrei Caldera



40° 49' N, 14° 10.05' E (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)


Project Start and End
  • Pilot hole: April to June 2012
  • Main hole: not yet determined


Programs and Funding


Principal Investigators
  • Giuseppe De Natale, Osservatorio Vesuviano, Seismology and Seismotectonics
  • Jörg Erzinger, German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 3.1, Inorganic and Isotope Geochemistry
  • David P. Hill, U.S. Geological Survey at Sacramento
  • Christopher J.R. Kilburn, University College London, Department of Earth Sciences, Benfield Hazard Research Centre
  • Agust Gudmundsson, Royal Holloway University of London, Department of Earth Sciences
  • Agust Gudmundsson, Geoice Geological Services
  • Luigi Burlini (?), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Department of Earth Sciences, Geological Institute


Partners and Contractors



CAMPI-FLEGREI, FLEGREI, Geothermal System, Geothermy, ICDP-2008/05, Italy, Magma Chamber, Volcanic Hazards, Volcanic Systems


Current State





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