This is one is billed as a science project, but one guesses that somewhere in all this is a potential energy source.
It should be noted that the Supervolcano label is not hyperbola. Campi Flegrei is thought to be one of the big badies. It is noteworthy for being one of the bid ones with a lot of people living around it, and it has been a little restless lately.
Edwin Cartridge, Science Magazin, 18 May 2012 (hat tip: NC)
Among the critics was Benedetto De Vivo, a geochemist at the University of Naples, who told Science in 2010 that the drilling might cause seismic activity or generate an explosion if it allowed the high-pressure supercritical fluids expected to exist at depths of about 3 kilometers or more to come into contact with magma inside the caldera. “Nobody can say how bad this explosion would be, but it could put at risk some of the surrounding population,” he said. De Vivo added that he didn’t understand why the well was to be located on the grounds of the former Bagnoli steel mill, on the western outskirts of Naples, and not farther west. (De Vivo did not state that the study might trigger an eruption of the supervolcano.)
Collaboration member Ulrich Harms of the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam said at the time that if the drilling is done in a controlled way, “there is no risk to the public.” He pointed out that many multikilometer wells have been drilled around the world in order to extract geothermal energy, and that these have not caused explosions. He believes the project makes scientific sense: “It’s not clear if there is a volcanic risk, but it cannot be excluded, and this is why it is better to get more of an idea.”
This is the type of activity that is very susceptible to fat tail events. I saw this one a while ago, so I am guessing that the hole-poking should be getting started soon.