Europe witnesses catastrophic events every 10,000-15,000 years, supervolcano megabeds reveal

Scientists have discovered “megabeds” from ancient volcanic eruptions at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, showing the evidence of several millennia of catastrophic events that hit the region in every few thousand years. 

What are Megabeds? 

Megabeds refer to deposits of substances formed in marine basins due to events of catastrophic nature such as the volcanic eruptions.

The researchers found these beds while probing the deposits at the bottom of the Tyrrhenian Sea, close to a large underwater volcano. The Tyrrhenian Sea is part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy.

Earlier, research in the area into sediment deposits had showed the presence of something hidden beneath the ocean.

But in a new study published in the journal Geology, the high-resolution images of the deposits showed the megabeds.

The lead study author Derek Sawyer, associate professor of Earth sciences at The Ohio State University, and colleagues created higher-resolution images of the layers of sediment and discovered a succession of four megabeds, each between 33 and 82 feet (10 to 25 metres) thick, and each separated by distinct layers of sediments.

The cores that were drilled out of the site showed the megabeds that were made of the volcanic material. According to the study published in the Geology journal, the oldest layer was found to be around 40,000 years old, the next oldest was 32,000 years old, and the third was 18,000 years old. The youngest sediment core was formed about 8,000 years ago.

But how are these remnants of volcanic eruptions?

According to the results of the study published in the Geology journal, the team of researchers looked at known volcanic activity in the region to determine the source of the megabeds.

Also watch | Explainer: Climate change and volcanic eruptions

The region where the beds formed is extremely active volcanically and includes the Campi Flegrei supervolcano, which has been acting recently.

What does it mean?

The findings are expected to help scientists understand the risk posed by volcanoes in the region. “That whole field is still active, there’s still a lot of concern about the future of that, so it’s certainly potentially possible that it could happen again,” Derek Sawyer said in a statement. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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