By Silvia Marchetti
ROME, April 27 (Xinhua) -- The Italian government on Tuesday signed a special decree for the creation of an international scientific body aimed at studying and monitoring the country's underwater volcanoes, the civil protection chief and undersecretary of state Guido Bertolaso said.
Italy will be the first country in the world to adopt such a groundbreaking approach, according to a statement by the civil protection headquarters.
The goal is to assess Italy's volcanic risk, with a particular focus at controlling the activity of the 12 "invisible" submarine volcanoes all located between the Tyrrhenian Sea and Sicily's Canal.
Bertolaso warned that these underwater volcanoes were even more terrifying than the rest because they are difficult to track being below the sea-level.
Speaking at the foreign press association, Bertolaso analyzed Italy's volcanic risk observing that alongside Iceland it had the most active volcanoes in Europe.
The most perilous, in need of constant monitoring, are Naples' Vesuvius (an eventual eruption is set to impact on millions of people living in the area), Stromboli, Etna and the island volcano of Ischia.
According to Bertolaso, Ischia's was even more hazardous than the others given that the top of the volcano had recently grown up to 800 meters with inside pure magma.
But there's much more to be worried about. "Among these 12 underwater volcanoes is the Marsilio, with a surface of 50x20 km that makes it the world's largest active volcano. But we know nothing on it," he added.
Four ships will be needed in the monitoring activity. It will take about 3 years and cost 10 million euros to have an efficient underwater mapping, said Bertolaso.