2019 Video: In-Depth Reporting - Gold

Weaving together archaeology, volcanology and geophysics, “The Next Pompeii” creates a vivid and thorough exploration of the tectonic activity around Naples, Italy. The NOVA documentary digs deep into the history of the city to uncover current geological threats to the region and warn locals about the possibility of a future volcanic disaster. While Vesuvius destroyed ancient Pompeii, a lesser known volcano called Campi Flegrei has the potential to be far more destructive than its more famous neighbor, endangering millions of residents in and around Naples. Scientists have enhanced a system of sensors designed to provide early warning of an eruption and have added an innovative wrinkle — a warning sensor that uses the ripples of sound created constantly by sea waves crashing ashore to probe the three-dimensional structure of molten rock beneath Campi Flegrei. Not only does the video serve as an important warning to the people of Naples, it also emphasizes the immense power volcanic activity can hold over human civilization. “This film focuses our attention on Naples and its dangerous location between two active volcanoes that threaten nearly four million people,” said Larry Engel, associate professor at American University’s School of Communication. “The film has beautiful imagery as well as fantastic animation of the underground workings of volcanoes.” Chris Schmidt, co-executive producer for NOVA, said the award “honors the creativity and hard work of the producers who brilliantly recognized an opportunity to re-examine the classic story of Pompeii and Vesuvius as a way of understanding the risk posed today by the largely unknown volcano under Naples.” He said the program is a nice example of “using science and history to tell a powerful story about our modern world.”