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'Geyser' Erupts at Rome's Fiumicino Airport

rome-fumarole
A steaming, spitting fumarole, or geothermal vent, seems to have erupted at Rome's Fiumicino Airport. (Image credit: YouTube screengrab from The Daily Telegraph)

On Saturday morning (Aug. 24), residents of Rome were startled to discover that a steaming vent, spitting out a steady stream of water and mud, had erupted from the ground near a runway at Rome's busy Fiumicino airport.

Geologists and engineers are investigating the vent to ensure that it's not a broken pipe or some other accident, according to VolcanoDiscovery. Assuming that it's not manmade, it could be a fumarole, a vent of steaming-hot hydrothermal water that erupts at the Earth's surface.

"There are a lot of hot springs in the area around Rome, so it might not be surprising that new vents could open," Erik Klemetti, assistant professor of geosciences at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, told LiveScience.

"Likely this doesn't lead to anything more than maybe a new hot spring, if it is related to the normal geothermal activity across the area," Klemetti said. "Once volcanologists can sample the gases being emitted, we might have a better idea of what the ultimate source of the vent might be."

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Marc Lallanilla
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at About.com and a producer with ABCNews.com. His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and TheWeek.com. Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.