TRANSFEERO: Reliable airport transfers worldwide
Book a private transfer at over 1500 airports, stations and ports worldwide

The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology – INGV – is the Italian board for the study, monitoring and information about the territory and volcanoes. A very useful institute for Italy which in fact is a huge source of geologic, seismic and volcanic events. It offers reasons for the research all the time and everywhere. But the science of Earth is really young, it started in fact in the 19th century. Today it includes some prestigious and excellent boards, like the one at the foot of Mt Etna, in Catania.

History of the INGV

INGV’s ancestor was the Royal Observatory of Mt.Vesuvius, founded in 1841 by king Ferdinand 1st Bourbon, in Naples. The director was Macedonio Melloni, a physicist who started for first the studies about geology and volcanology. He turned the observatory into a very important research board, still a reference institute after the Unity of Italy in 1860. There, the scientist Mercalli planned his famous seismic risk scale.

One century later, in 1936, Guglielmo Marconi unified the Observatory of Mt.Vesuvius and his own geophysics research board creating the ING – National Institute of Geophysics. The study of volcanoes, from which it all had started, was added again in 1969, as soon as the Institute of Volcanology of Catania was founded. This gave birth to other similar institutes throughout Italy and in 1999 they all joined the ING giving birth to modern INGV.

How INGV works today


photo by G.Musumeci

The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology today is divided into several branches and several sectors. The most important centers are those of Rome, Naples, Catania and Palermo. We asked the Catanese volcanologist Marco Neri to better explain what the institute  actually does. We have thus discovered that the INGV is a board that recruits physicists, geologists, volcanologists, but also scholars of marine phenomena and computer technicians. It provides continuous control over earthquakes, hydrogeological risk, fault movements and volcanic eruptions.

In particular, the INGV of Catania is the flagship of the national institute. A true excellence that also teaches  foreign  – Japanese, American, European –  researchers  how to monitor volcanoes. Doctor Marco Neri says: “Our institute has always focused on research studies. It monitors and studies Sicilian active volcanoes (from the Sicilian Channel to the lower Tyrrhenian Sea, obviously passing through Etna) and the seismicity of Sicily and Calabria. “.

The excellence of Catania

But how does this take place? “The activities can be divided into two broad categories: ‘pure’ research and monitoring and surveillance activities. Researchers investigate a broad spectrum of Earth Sciences, and from these studies they draw consolidated and reliable results. These can be spent in terms of monitoring and surveillance of volcanism and tectonics,  which are applied in the context of the Operations Room activities “.

The Operations Room is the one that transforms theory into practice. There is always someone who takes turns in the OR, and these can be long and demanding shifts – when Etna is erupting, for example, or in case of a seismic alarm. In case of alerts, the technicians who receive the data  carefully evaluate. Then they notify the authorities – Civil Protection, airports, Prefectures – and other bodies responsible for controlling the territory. “A large team of volcanologists, seismologists, geochemists, computer technicians, deformists, etc. personally take care of the maintenance and technological updating. They go check the instrumental networks existing in the area, consisting of over 160 active stations”.

A tireless work that also includes conferences, seminars, educational meetings in schools of all levels. Recently, the researchers’ activity has also spilled over into social networks, increasingly besieged by questions, answers and  “fake news”. The constant work of the Catania INGV team also checks that no panic news is spread. They intervene promptly and with great competence to inform the population in the correct way.

(the photo above the title is by Dr. Boris Behncke. INGV volcanologist from Catania)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

Airport Transfers