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Ralf Büttner, a volcanologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany:
"It is even theoretically conceivable that, ultimately, a major eruption could result.
Knowledge about the viscosity and processes of gases in magma is very limited. What we do know is based on extremely small samples, which makes it difficult to extrapolate the results to larger masses, he says. So volcanic drilling projects are often based on "wishful thinking rather than on hard facts"
"Though the caldera has no visible volcanic cone, it dwarfs nearby Vesuvius. "Most of the metropolitan area of Naples is located within the caldera," says Giuseppe De Natale of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology's (INGV) Vesuvius Observatory in Naples, who is leading the project.
"A major eruption, like the one 39,000 years ago, would leave large parts of Europe buried under a thick layer of ash," says Agust Gudmundsson of the Royal Holloway University of London, one of the researchers involved in the drilling project. Since then, smaller eruptions have occurred every few centuries.