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Etna Volcano
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Country: Italy
Volcano number: 0101-06
Summit Elevation: 3320m 10,973 feet
Latitude: 3773'N
Longitude: 1500'E
Last eruption: July 2019
VolcanoType: Stratovolcano

Etna volcano seen from Catania
Mount Etna degassing seen from Catania Airport.


Geological summary

Mount Etna volcano, towering above Catania, Sicily's second largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BC. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whose edifice is the highest and most voluminous in Italy.

Vulcano island main crater and the fumarolic activity

The Mongibello stratovolcano, truncated by several small calderas, was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene over an older shield volcano. The most prominent morphological feature of Etna is the Valle del Bove, a 5 x 10 km horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the east. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur at Etna. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more of the three prominent summit craters, the Central Crater, NE Crater, and SE Crater (the latter formed in 1978). Flank vents, typically with higher effusion rates, are less frequently active and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit (usually accompanied by strombolian eruptions at the upper end). Cinder cones are commonly constructed over the vents of lower-flank lava flows. Lava flows extend to the foot of the volcano on all sides and have reached the sea over a broad area on the SE flank.



Etna past eruptions



Etna last eruptions

The most recent eruption at Vulcano island is the 1888-1890 eruption from the Gran Cratere  or Fossa di Vulcano, a large crater truncating the Fossa cone. Such eruption, one of the best observed eruption (by prof. Silvestri) during XIX century, started on August 3rd 1889 ending (with several breaks) on March 1890.  Volcanologists use the 1888-1890 vulcano island eruption as model of the "vulcanian eruptions".

Vulcanello and Lipari island as seen from La Fossa crater rim

Vulcanello as seen from Vulcano island crater rim

Mount Etna volcano activity at nowdays

Recently, the Gran Cratere of the Fossa cone has been the site of volcanic unrest which began around 1985 and ended in 1995 without culminating in an eruption. Moreover, the most notably sign was an increase of the fumarolic activity. This episode has triggered increased public awareness about the volcanic risk at Vulcano and intense studies of the volcano. Geological studies have shown that most eruptions of the Fossa cone have been violently explosive and produced pyroclastic flows and surges. Future eruptions have to be expected to be of a similar character.

At nowdays a field of active fumaroles and extensive sulfur deposits lies in the northern-central portion of this crater. It provides a thrilling experience for those who dare to walk (or run) right across the gas plume emitted from the fumaroles. The vivid stench of sulfur dioxide within the plume is just the most evident indicator of toxic gases. It is advisable to stay as briefly as possible within the plume and better wear a gas mask. Prolonged stays in the plume may lead to undesirable effects, such as the (irreversible) loss of the sense of smell.

You can take a day trip to Stromboli, but it is better to stay at least one night in order to climb the volcano and see the dramatic lava flows and explosions against the night sky. It's a 3 hours strenuous hike from the village base to the summit.
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