Mount Etna
Overview
 
Mount Etna is an active stratovolcano
Stratovolcano
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions...

 on the east coast of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, close to Messina
Messina, Italy
Messina is the third largest city on the island of Sicily, Italy and the capital of the province of Messina. It has a population of about 250,000 inhabitants in the city proper and about 650,000 in the province...

 and Catania
Catania
Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

. It is the tallest active volcano in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, currently standing 3329 m (10,922 ft) high, though this varies with summit eruptions; the mountain is 21 m (69 ft) higher than it was in 1981.. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km² (460 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km.
Encyclopedia
Mount Etna is an active stratovolcano
Stratovolcano
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions...

 on the east coast of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, close to Messina
Messina, Italy
Messina is the third largest city on the island of Sicily, Italy and the capital of the province of Messina. It has a population of about 250,000 inhabitants in the city proper and about 650,000 in the province...

 and Catania
Catania
Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

. It is the tallest active volcano in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, currently standing 3329 m (10,922 ft) high, though this varies with summit eruptions; the mountain is 21 m (69 ft) higher than it was in 1981.. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km² (460 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km. This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius is a stratovolcano in the Gulf of Naples, Italy, about east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years, although it is not currently erupting...

. Only Mount Teide in Tenerife
Tenerife
Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the seven Canary Islands, it is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 km² and 906,854 inhabitants, 43% of the total population of the Canary Islands. About five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, the...

 surpasses it in the whole of the European-North-African region. In Greek Mythology, the deadly monster Typhon
Typhon
Typhon , also Typhoeus , Typhaon or Typhos was the last son of Gaia, fathered by Tartarus, and the most deadly monster of Greek mythology. He was known as the "Father of all monsters"; his wife Echidna was likewise the "Mother of All Monsters."Typhon was described in pseudo-Apollodorus,...

 was trapped under this mountain by Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, the god of the sky, and the forges of Hephaestus were said to also be located underneath it.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity. The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, with vineyard
Vineyard
A vineyard is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice...

s and orchard
Orchard
An orchard is an intentional planting of trees or shrubs that is maintained for food production. Orchards comprise fruit or nut-producing trees which are grown for commercial production. Orchards are also sometimes a feature of large gardens, where they serve an aesthetic as well as a productive...

s spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad Plain of Catania to the south. Due to its history of recent activity and nearby population, Mount Etna has been designated a Decade Volcano by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

.

Etymology

According to Adrian Room’s book Place-names of the World, the name Etna is said to have originated from a Phoenician word meaning "furnace." He dismisses the theory that Etna is from a Greek source meaning "I burn." In Classical Greek, it is called (Aítnē), and Aetna in Latin. It is also known as Muncibeddu in Sicilian
Sicilian language
Sicilian is a Romance language. Its dialects make up the Extreme-Southern Italian language group, which are spoken on the island of Sicily and its satellite islands; in southern and central Calabria ; in the southern parts of Apulia, the Salento ; and Campania, on the Italian mainland, where it is...

 and Mongibello in Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 (from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 mons and the Arabic gibel, both meaning mountain). Its Arabic name was ("the Mountain of Fire").

Geological history

Volcanic activity first took place at Etna about half a million years ago, with eruptions occurring beneath the sea off the ancient coastline of Sicily. About 300,000 years ago, volcanism began occurring to the southwest of the summit (centre top of volcano) then, before activity moved towards the present center 170,000 years ago. Eruptions at this time built up the first major volcanic edifice, forming a stratovolcano in alternating explosive and effusive eruptions. The growth of the mountain was occasionally interrupted by major eruptions, leading to the collapse of the summit to form caldera
Caldera
A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park in the US. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters...

s.

From about 35,000 to 15,000 years ago, Etna experienced some highly explosive eruptions, generating large pyroclastic flow
Pyroclastic flow
A pyroclastic flow is a fast-moving current of superheated gas and rock , which reaches speeds moving away from a volcano of up to 700 km/h . The flows normally hug the ground and travel downhill, or spread laterally under gravity...

s, which left extensive ignimbrite
Ignimbrite
An ignimbrite is the deposit of a pyroclastic density current, or pyroclastic flow, a hot suspension of particles and gases that flows rapidly from a volcano, driven by a greater density than the surrounding atmosphere....

 deposits. Ash from these eruptions has been found as far away as Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, 800 km to the north.

Thousands of years ago, the eastern flank of the mountain experienced a catastrophic collapse, generating an enormous landslide in an event similar to that seen in the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens
1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens
The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, a stratovolcano located in Washington state, in the United States, was a major volcanic eruption. The eruption was the only significant one to occur in the contiguous 48 U.S. states since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California...

. The landslide left a large depression in the side of the volcano, known as 'Valle del Bove' (Valley of the Ox). Research published in 2006 suggested this occurred around 6000 BC, and caused a huge tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

, which left its mark in several places in the eastern Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. It may have been the reason the settlement of Atlit Yam
Atlit Yam
Atlit Yam is an ancient submerged Neolithic village off the coast of Atlit, Israel.-History:Atlit-Yam provides the earliest known evidence for an agro-pastoral-marine subsistence system on the Levantine coast. The final Pre-Pottery Neolithic B site of Atlit Yam dates between 6900 and 6300 BC...

 (Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

), now below sea level, was suddenly abandoned around that time.

The steep walls of the valley have suffered subsequent collapses on numerous occasions. The strata
Stratum
In geology and related fields, a stratum is a layer of sedimentary rock or soil with internally consistent characteristics that distinguish it from other layers...

 exposed in the valley walls provide an important and easily accessible record of Etna's eruptive history.

The most recent collapse event at the summit of Etna is thought to have occurred about 2,000 years ago, forming what is known as the Piano Caldera. This caldera has been almost entirely filled by subsequent lava eruptions, but is still visible as a distinct break in the slope of the mountain near the base of the present-day summit cone.

Historical eruptions

Eruptions of Etna are not always the same. Most occur at the summit, where there are four distinct craters—the Northeast Crater, the Voragine, the Bocca Nuova, and the Southeast Crater. Other eruptions occur on the flanks, where there are more than 300 vents, ranging in size from small holes in the ground to large craters hundreds of metres across. Summit eruptions can be highly explosive and are extremely spectacular, but are rarely threatening for the inhabited areas around the volcano. On the contrary, flank eruptions can occur down to a few hundred metres altitude
Altitude
Altitude or height is defined based on the context in which it is used . As a general definition, altitude is a distance measurement, usually in the vertical or "up" direction, between a reference datum and a point or object. The reference datum also often varies according to the context...

, close to or even well within the populated areas. Numerous villages and small towns lie around or on cones of past flank eruptions. Since the year 1600 A.D., there have been at least 60 flank eruptions and countless summit eruptions; nearly half of these have occurred since the start of the 20th century, and the 3rd millennium has seen four flank eruptions of Etna so far, in 2001, 2002–2003, 2004–2005, 2008-2009. Summit eruptions occurred in 2006, 2007–2008 and again in January 2011.

The first known record of
eruption at Etna is that of Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

.

The Roman poet Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 gave what was probably a first-hand description of an eruption in the Aeneid
Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...


(edition of Theodore C. Williams
Theodore Chickering Williams
Theodore Chickering Williams was an American Unitarian pastor and hymnwriter, and from 1899 the first headmaster of the Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York.-External links:*...

, ca. 1908 [lines 569–579])

In 396 BC, an eruption of Etna is said to have thwarted the Carthaginians in their attempt to advance on Syracuse
Syracuse, Italy
Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in...

 during the Second Sicilian War.

A particularly violent explosive (Plinian) summit eruption occurred in 122 BC, and caused heavy tephra falls to the southeast, including the town of Catania, where many roofs collapsed. To help with reconstruction and dealing with the devastating effects of the eruption, the Roman government exempted the population of Catania from paying taxes for ten years.

During the first 1500 years CE (AD), many eruptions have gone unreported (or records have been lost); among the more significant are: (1) an eruption in about 1030 CE near Monte Ilice on the lower southeast flank, which produced a lava flow that travelled about 10 km reaching the sea north of Acireale; the villages of Santa Tecla and Stazzo are built on the broad delta built by this lava flow into the sea; (2) an eruption in about 1160 (or 1224), from a fissure at only 350–450 m elevation on the south-southeast flank near the village of Mascalucia, whose lava flow reached the sea immediately to the north of Catania, in the area now occupied by the portion of the city named Ognina.

Etna's most destructive eruption since 122 BC started on 11 March 1669, and produced lava flows that destroyed at least 10 villages on its southern flank before reaching the city walls of the town of Catania
Catania
Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

 five weeks later, on 15 April. The lava was largely diverted by these walls into the sea to the south of the city, filling the harbor of Catania. A small portion of lava eventually broke through a fragile section of the city walls on the western side of Catania and destroyed a few buildings before stopping in the rear of the Benedictine monastery, without reaching the center of the town. Contrary to widespread reports of up to 15,000 (or even 20,000) human fatalities caused by the lava, contemporaneous accounts written both in Italian and English mention no deaths related to the 1669 eruption (but give very precise figures of the number of buildings destroyed, the area of cultivated land lost, and the economic damage), so it can be safely assumed that the enormous number of fatalities often picked up also by the news media must be a confusion with the earthquake that devastated southeast Sicily (including Catania) 24 years later, in 1693
1693 Sicily earthquake
The 1693 Sicily earthquake refers to a powerful earthquake that struck parts of southern Italy, notably Sicily, Calabria and Malta on January 11, 1693 around 9 pm local time. This earthquake was preceded by a damaging foreshock on January 9th...

. A study on the damage and fatalities caused by eruptions of Etna in historical time reveals that only 77 human deaths can be attributed with certainty to eruptions of Etna, most recently in 1987 when two tourists were killed by a sudden explosion near the summit.

Recent Eruptions


Another large lava flow from an eruption in 1928 led to the first (and only) destruction of a population centre since the 1669 eruption. The eruption started high on Etna's northeast flank on November 2, then new eruptive fissures opened at ever lower elevation down the flank of the volcano. The third and most vigorous of these fissures opened late on 4 November at an unusually low elevation (1200 m above sea-level), in a zone known as Ripe della Naca. The village of Mascali
Mascali
Mascali is a comune in the Province of Catania in the Italian region Sicily, located about 170 km east of Palermo and about 30 km northeast of Catania....

, lying downslope of the Ripe della Naca, was obliterated in just two days, with the lava destroying nearly every building. Only a church and a few surrounding buildings survived in the north part of the village, called Sant'Antonino or "il quartiere". During the last days of the eruption, the flow interrupted the Messina-Catania railway line and destroyed the train station of Mascali. The event was used by Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

's Fascist regime
Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...

 for propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 purposes, with the evacuation, aid and rebuilding operations being presented as models of fascist planning. Mascali was rebuilt on a new site, and its church contains the Italian fascist symbol of the torch, placed above the statue of Jesus Christ. In early November 2008, the town of Mascali commemorated the 80th anniversary of the eruption and destruction of the village with a number of public manifestations and conferences where amongst others still living eyewitnesses of the eruptions recalled their impressions of that experience.

Other major 20th-century eruptions occurred in 1949, 1971, 1981, 1983 and 1991–1993. In 1971, lava buried the Etna Observatory (built in the late 19th century), destroyed the first generation of the Etna cable-car, and seriously threatened several small villages on Etna's east flank. In March 1981, the town of Randazzo on the northwestern flank of Etna narrowly escaped from destruction by unusually fast-moving lava flows – that eruption was remarkably similar to the one of 1928 that destroyed Mascali. The 1991–1993 eruption saw the town of Zafferana threatened by a lava flow, but successful diversion efforts saved the town with the loss of only one building a few hundred metres from the town's margin. Initially, such efforts consisted of the construction of earth barriers built perpendicularly to the flow direction; it was hoped that the eruption would stop before the artificial basins created behind the barriers would be completely filled. Instead, the eruption continued, and lava surmounted the barriers, heading directly toward Zafferana. It was then decided to use explosives near the source of the lava flow, to disrupt a very efficient lava tube system through which the lava travelled for up to 7 km without essentially losing heat and fluidity. The main explosion on 23 May 1992 destroyed the lava tube and forced the lava into a new artificial channel, far from Zafferana, and it would have taken months to re-establish a long lava tube. Shortly after the blasting, the rate of lava emission dropped and during the remainder of the eruption (until 30 March 1993) the lava never advanced close to the town again.

Following six years (1995–2001) of unusually intense activity at the four summit craters of Etna, the volcano produced its first flank eruption since 1991–1993 in July–August 2001. This eruption, which involved activity from seven distinct eruptive fissures mostly on the south slope of the volcano, was a mass-media eruption, because it occurred at the height of the tourist season and numerous reporters and journalists were already in Italy to cover the G8 summit in Genoa. It also occurred close to one of the tourist areas on the volcano, and thus was easily accessible. Part of the "Etna Sud" tourist area, including the arrival station of the Etna cable car, were damaged by this eruption, which otherwise was a rather modest-sized event for Etna standards.

In 2002–2003, a much larger eruption threw up a huge column of ash that could easily be seen from space and fell as far away as Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, 600 km (372.8 mi) south across the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. Seismic activity in this eruption caused the eastern flanks of the volcano to slip by up to two metres, and many houses on the flanks of the volcano experienced structural damage. The eruption also completely destroyed the tourist station Piano Provenzana, on the northeastern flank of the volcano, and part of the tourist station "Etna Sud" around the Rifugio Sapienza on the south flank. Footage from the eruptions was recorded by Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm Limited is an American film production company founded by George Lucas in 1971, based in San Francisco, California. Lucas is the company's current chairman and CEO, and Micheline Chau is the president and COO....

 and integrated into the landscape of the planet Mustafar
Mustafar
Mustafar is a fictional planet in the Star Wars universe. It is depicted in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.The planet is covered by hundreds of volcanic caldera, most of which are in a state of constant eruption...

 in the 2005 film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is a 2005 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the sixth and final film released in the Star Wars saga and the third in terms of the series' internal chronology....

. The Rifugio Sapienza is near the site of a cable car
Gondola lift
A gondola lift is a type of aerial lift, normally called a cable car, which is supported and propelled by cables from above. It consists of a loop of steel cable that is strung between two stations, sometimes over intermediate supporting towers. The cable is driven by a bullwheel in a terminal,...

 station which had previously been destroyed in the 1983 eruption; it has now been rebuilt. Following a rather silent, slow and non-destructive lava outflow on the upper southeastern flank between September 2004 and March 2005, intense eruptions occurred at the Southeast Crater in July–December 2006. These were followed by four episodes of lava fountaining, again at the Southeast Crater, on 29 March, 11 April, 29 April and 7 May 2007. Ash emissions and Strombolian explosions started from a vent on the eastern side of the Southeast Crater in mid-August 2007.

On 4 September 2007 a spectacular episode of lava fountaining occurred from the new vent on the east side of the Southeast Crater, also producing a plume of ash and scoriae which fell over the east flank of the volcano. A lava flow travelled about 4.5 km into the uninhabited Valle del Bove. This eruption was visible far into the plains of Sicily, ending the following morning between the hours of 5 to 7 am local time. Catania-Fontanarossa Airport
Catania-Fontanarossa Airport
-See also:*Palermo Airport Falcone e Borsellino - also known as Punta Raisi Airport, another of Sicily's international airports* Trapani Birgi Airport Vincenzo Florio - another of Sicily's international airports...

 shut down operations during the night for safety precautions. A similar paroxysm occurred during the night of 23–24 November 2007, lasting for 6 hours and causing ash and lapilli falls to the north of the volcano. Again, the source of the activity was the vent on the east flank of the Southeast Crater. Following several months of rather minor activity from the Southeast Crater and flurries of seismic activity especially in the eastern sector of the mountain, a new powerful eruptive paroxysm occurred on the late afternoon of 10 May 2008. Due to bad weather, it was not possible to see much of the activity at the vent, but several branches of lava travelled down the eastern flank of the volcano, into the Valle del Bove depression, reaching a length of 6.2 km. This latest paroxysm lasted about 4 hours, ending on the evening of 10 May 2008.

An eruption on the morning of 13 May 2008, immediately to the east of Etna's summit craters was accompanied by a swarm of more than 200 earthquakes and significant ground deformation in the summit area. The eruption continued at a slowly diminishing rate for 417 days, until 6 July 2009, making this the longest flank eruption of Etna since the 1991–1993 eruption that lasted 473 days. Previous eruptions, in 2001, 2002–2003, and 2004–2005 had lasted 3 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months, respectively. Lava flows advanced 6.5 km during the first few days of this eruption but thereafter stagnated at much minor distances from the vents; during the last months of the eruption lava rarely advanced more than 1 km downslope.

During the year 2010, the summit craters of Etna were the site of intermittent, minor explosive activity, which produced only minor quantities of ash and no lava flows. The most significant events were a single explosion from the vent on the east flank of the Southeast Crater cone on 7 April, a sequence of explosions from the western pit of the Bocca Nuova that started on 25 August and continued until 22 December, and ash emissions from the Northeast Crater on 14–15 November. The vent on the east side of the Southeast Crater cone became again active in late December; activity then intensified in early January 2011.

On 13 January 2011, a new episode of lava fountaining occurred from the vent on the east flank of the Southeast Crater cone, lasting about 1.5 hours. Italian Authorities were forced to temporarily close airports for a couple of hours while the ash cloud cleared. The event was well visible during the clear, moonlit night and attracted numerous spectators in eastern Sicily and as far as southern Calabria.

The volcano has been sputtering with abundant steam and ash plumes and some strombolian explosions in the southeast pit crater on the morning of 8 May 2011, generating loud detonations that were audible to many kilometres away, such as the Monti Sartorius (northeast flank) and the town of Zafferana Etnea. After sunset, Strombolian explosions were seen to occur at intervals of 3–10 minutes, ejecting incandescent bombs up to a few tens of metres above the crater rim. During the night, some explosions threw bombs well beyond the crater rim, down to the base of the cone that has grown around the crater during the recent paroxysms. This activity continued on the morning of 9 May, without any change in the frequency and size of the explosions and no variation was seen in the seismic activity either. On 11 May, this activity rapidly increased and some lava started to spill over the low eastern rim of the crater. Then, around 0300h in the morning on 12 May (local time = GMT+2), the fourth lava fountain of Etna in the year 2011 burst into the night sky. For many hours, there had been increasingly vigorous Strombolian activity and a small lava flow, and the amplitude of volcanic tremor was rising. The fountain lasted for a couple of hours and ended at daybreak—by 0600 h it was essentially over.

Mount Etna erupted again in 2011 on July 9, 18 and 19, 24 and 25, 30 and 31, on August 5 and 6, 12, 20 and 29, on September 8, 19 and 28, on October 8 and 23, and on November 15, sending lava sprays several hundred metres into the air; no damage or casualties were reported.

Unusual characteristics

In the 1970s Etna erupted smoke ring
Smoke ring
A smoke ring is a visible vortex ring formed by sudden release of smoke. It can be created by blowing smoke from the mouth, quickly lighting a cigarette lighter and putting it out or holding a burning incense stick or a cigarette vertically, pushing it with the burning side up and suddenly pulling...

s, one of the first captured events of this type, which is extremely rare. This happened again in 2000.

See also

  • List of volcanoes in Italy
  • Volcanic Seven Summits
    Volcanic Seven Summits
    The Volcanic Seven Summits are the highest volcanoes on each of the seven continents, just as the Seven Summits are the highest peaks on each of the seven continents...

  • Mountaineering history & Mt Etna

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK