It is a densely populated area. It is close to Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Below them, 400 km deep, something seems to be brewing. There are indications that it may be an active volcano below Europe. It lies under the lakes of the Eifel.
It is American scientists who have come to this disturbing result. They checked data from thousands of GPS antennas across the continent. Subtle movements were tracked on the surface of the earth. They explain it in the “Geophysical Journal International”.
The new data do not imply an impending outbreak. You cannot even be sure that this will happen in the future. However, they attract enough attention to keep investigators vigilant.
The German Eifel lies between the cities of Aachen, Trier and Koblenz. It is the home of the “Maars”. They are circular lakes that were characterized by violent volcanic eruptions in the past. Laacher See is the largest lake in the region. The explosion that caused it is believed to have occurred about 13,000 years ago. It was as powerful as the catastrophic eruption of Mount Pinatubo (Philippines) in 1991. The last eruption in the region occurred 11,000 years ago.
Researchers believe the cloud from the mantle that fed this old crater is still there. It could extend up to 400 km towards the earth’s surface. However, it is not known whether it is still active or not. Corné Kreemer is the main author of the new study. It is clear that something is brewing there.
The cortex is moving
The survey found that the region’s land surface is moving up and down. “This means that there must still be warm material under the earth’s crust,” explains Kreemer.
Some of the lakes still release a lot of gases that scientists associate with the mantle. “A study found small earthquakes below Lake Laacher. Its properties could be explained by the transport of magma,” he adds. The area affected includes parts of Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and all of Luxembourg.
Long-term earthquake risk may also exist in this part of Europe. The researchers say there is no reason for the alarm, but there is for monitoring. “Nobody would say that the volcano is really active like Etna. And nobody believes that an eruption is imminent. However, it is good to know what would happen if it ever happened,” says Kreemer known eruption (Laacher See 13,000 years ago) produced 6 cubic kilometers of magma. This eruption can be compared to that of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991. For example, it was much larger than that of Mount St. Helens in 1980. The eruption of the Laacher See ash spread throughout much of Europe, “he recalls.
The Eifel is an exceptional region, but not the only one in Europe. The same applies to the Central Massif in south-central France. The last volcanic activity took place about 7,000 years ago. Some scientists have also photographed a mantle column below this area. “While our study found that the cortex extends there, we could not see a convincing lift signal. We simply do not have the determination to see the uprising. If there is an active volcano under Europe, further measures are needed to confirm this “he explains.