VOLCANIC
SPRINGS

Geysers and hot springs of the European mainland

Hot springs are generated by tectonic or volcanic processes. And most volcanoes are to be found along the tectonic plate boundaries. To be more specific, volcanism in Europe can mainly 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 not situated on the mainland but encopassing islands offshore the southwestern coast of Italy. One of these is centered around a hot spot northeast of Sicily and includes the active stratovolcanoes Mount Etna, Stromboli and Vulcano, the namesake of all volcanoes. A second cluster sits southwest of Sicily around the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria, featuring submarine activity.

Vulcano Gran Cratere atop Fossa Cone
The Gran Cratere atop Fossa Cone on the Aeolian Island Vulcano. Stromboli volcano appears on the horizon.

Stromboli is more or less permanently erupting steam and lava / ash from different craters on the summit.

Stromboli in eruption
Summit craters of Stromboli erupting steam and lava / ash.

Just like Stromboli the largest volcano of the cluster, Mount Etna, is frequently active, but often generates new vents on its summit and its widely extending slopes.

Mount Etna
Steaming summit craters of Mount Etna.

The remaining two of the volcanic clusters mentioned above 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 any time.

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 being 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.

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

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).

Besides Italy and Greece, also more central regions of the European mainland have developed volcanoes by the plate collision or by ascending volcanic mantle plumes. 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 Vulkaneifel 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.


 Back to top