The outskirts of Rome are filled with olive groves, vineyards, and medieval towns with charming pizzerias and gelato shops. And they might also be the site of the next volcanic eruption.
The Colli Albani Volcanic District might become more active, according to a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, potentially putting the Eternal City at risk.
Italy has a long and tragic past when it comes to volcanic eruptions: Pompeii, the ancient Italian city, was decimated by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Almost 2,000 years later, tourists wander the ruins, witnessing the remnants of lives left frozen in ash.
Related: Rome Travel Guide
The new research shows that Colli Albani could be rumbling back to life: Land where previous eruptions took place has been rising (what scientists call “uplift”) and there have been some small, clustered earthquakes in the area, and new volcanic gas venting holes have appeared near Rome’s airport. These signs taken in conjunction with the fact that it’s been 36,000 years since the volcano last erupted, point to the potential of an eruption soon, reported Wired.
Before you start reconsidering a Roman holiday, keep in mind that when geologists say “soon” they could mean the next thousand years—a mere blip in the lifespan of a volcano. And, if Colli Albani does erupt, there’s a strong chance that it will emit a relatively small explosion. The volcano was most active between 608,000 to 351,000 years ago and it hasn’t done much damage since then.
The researchers hope that their study will encourage the Italian government to step up monitoring the volcano and start some long-range volcano evacuation planning.