Europe’s tallest active volcano has been spewing lava for three weeks — and now its raining stones and ash on the villages below
Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano, let out its tenth big blast in the last three weeks on March 7.
- The eruption led to lava stones and ash raining down on the Silician towns located on its slopes.
- The governor of Sicily Nello Musumeci has declared a state of emergency in the most affected villages.
Questa mattina è avvenuto il decimo parossismo al cratere di sud-est dell'#Etna in poco meno di tre settimane.Que… https://t.co/5sttfQGAe8— Il Mondo dei Terremoti (@mondoterremoti) 1615117847000
At nearly 3,324 meters above sea level, Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe. According to Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), the giant exploded at approximately 2:00 am local time, pushing the column of ash and lava to a height of 10,000 metres.
The lava down below did not change direction and continues to flow from the southeast crater — down the side of the volcano that does not house any residents. “This activity is still ongoing and the INGV is constantly monitoring its development,” the agency said in a statement.
However, the blast did result in ash and small lava stones causing damage to eight villages along Etna’s slopes. Sicily’s governor Nello Musumeci has declared a state of crisis in the most affected regions, according to a local news outlet Tg2.
Queste sono due foto che sono state scattate proprio a Giarre, un comune ubicato nella parte orientale del vulcano.… https://t.co/UNUEoWGTBc— Il Mondo dei Terremoti (@mondoterremoti) 1615117931000
The lull before the storm
There is nothing new about Etna spewing out volcanic ash, molten rocks and lava. On this day, in 1669, an eruption at Mount Etna killed 20,000 people.
However, this time something is different. According to INGV’s Marco Neri, Etna’s most recent explosions have been “most violent in the Southeast Crater's young history.”
As long as the eruptions remain at the current intensity and lava comes from the summit rather than the sides of the volcano, the risk to surrounding communities is small. But history shows that periods of intense activity are almost always followed by lateral eruptions that open up mouths on the flank of the volcano — sometimes at low elevations.
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