Volcanic Springs

Geysers, Hot Springs,
Mud Pots, and Fumaroles

Geysers and hot springs of the European mainland

Hot springs are generated by tectonic activity, in particular by volcanoes. And most volcanoes are to be found along the tectonic plate boundaries. To be more specific, volcanism in Europe can be attributed to the subduction or sinking of the African lithosphere (Oceania) below the Eurasian plate. Therefore, Greece has a long history of volcanic eruptions, but the most active hot spots in Continental Western Europe are to be found in Italy. They are focused on four main clusters, two of which are located on the Italian mainland: a line of mostly extinct volcanoes along the Italian west coast in the regions Toscana and Lazio north of Rome, and south of Rome the volcanoes around Napoli. Latter are forming the Campanian volcanic arc and have to be classified as dormant. One of them, the Vesuvio, may erupt at anytime. The third volcanic cluster sits northeast of Sicily and includes the active stratovolcano Mount Etna, the fourth southwest of Sicily around the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria.

The last eruption of Monte Vesuvio (Mount Vesuvius) occurred in 1944. Due to its different eruption styles, encompassing violent explosions or pyroclastic flows as well as the emission of very liquid lava, lava fountains and formation of lava lakes, this volcano is still further from beeing predictable than many others. Monte Vesuvio has proven its dangerous nature with the destruction of the ancient towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and it's an even bigger threat to the densely polulated region of Napoli today. When it comes to natural hot springs, however, the closer region around Monte Vesuvio has not much to offer. Hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles are far more abundant on the adjacent caldera of the supervolcano Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) or farther north, in Toscana (Tuscany).

Monte Vesuvio, crater seen from northwest (roll mouse over picture to display view from south):

Monte Vesuvio

Mounte Vesuvio
Besides Italy and Greece, also more central regions of the European mainland have developed volcanoes by the plate collision. Most of them are extinct now and the only remains are geological deposits, but some are still active in terms of volcanic heat accumulations in the deep. Examples are the Auvergne region in France, the Eifel and the Oberpfalz in Germany, and the Bohemian Massif in the Czech Republic. In these regions the requirements for volcanic springs are met and, consequently, those features are to be found.


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