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Russian volcano could cause Pompeii-scale destruction, scientist warns

WATCH: Scientists say the past couple years have seen increasing seismic activity detected beneath the Bolshaya Udina volcano.

A volcano in the far eastern end of Russia that was thought to be extinct may now have awakened — and its eruption could be as severe as the one that destroyed the ancient Roman settlement of Pompeii, according to scientists.

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In the fall of 2017, seismic activity was discovered underneath the Bolshaya Udina volcano, which was thought to be inactive for decades.

Since scientists began monitoring the area in 1961, only a single weak activity has been detected, according to the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS).

After the initial activity was discovered, a detailed investigation was launched, which included four temporary seismic stations being placed near the volcano.

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Over a two-month period from May to July 2018, 559 localized events were detected in the area of the volcanoes, according to a study that reported the investigation’s findings.

The continued activity led the study to conclude that the volcano may have to be reclassified as “active” given the possible presence of “magma intrusions with a high content of melts and fluids.”

In addition to those events, a 4.3-magnitude earthquake occurred under Udina in February — the strongest to be recorded in that area, according to RAS.

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Long-dormant volcanoes pose great risks, according to Ivan Koulakov, the lead scientist investigating the volcano.

“When a volcano is silent for a long time, its first explosion can be catastrophic … Recall Pompeii,” Koulakov told RAS, referencing the ancient Roman settlement Pompeii that was totally destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which was dormant for thousands of years before.

Koulakov also explained that the eruption can have far-flung effects.

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“A large amount of ash is thrown into the air, it is carried far away, and not only the surrounding settlements but also large territories all over the planet can suffer,” he said.

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This ash can affect air travel and climate, according to CNN.

He pegged the chances of an eruption at 50 per cent.

“At any moment, an eruption can occur,” Koulakov told CNN.

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