Mt. Etna: First Major Eruption Since 1992

Lacy LangleyScience

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Mt. Etna in Sicily erupted over the weekend. Lava and hot ash began spewing out on Saturday, and tapered off on Sunday. Etna is Europe's most active volcano, with 16 paroxysmal, or sudden, eruptions this year and the last major eruption occuring in 1992, according to Fox News.

The eruption didn't pose a threat to surrounding villages, and evacuations were not ordered. Thanks to successful diversion efforts, only one building was destroyed, according to the Daily Mail. The nearby airport in Catania was even operating normally, except for the blocking of two sectors of air space over the volcano.

The eruption was announced by a violent tremor, producing a string of perfectly-shaped smoke rings. Experts think that the eruption may have caused a change in the structure of a vent, perhaps into a circular shape, which could have allowed Mount Etna to spew the smoke-like formations.

The activities of Mt. Etna have been well documented as far back as 1500 BC, and since then, has erupted over 200 times, ranging from almost undetectable to the catastrophic. For example, in 122 BC, an explosive eruption spewed so much ash onto the town of Catania, that it crushed hundreds of houses. The damage was so bad that the town's inhabitants were exempted from paying taxes to Rome for ten years.

Mt. Etna's current activities, which usually just include continuous summit degassing, explosive Strombolian eruptions, and frequent basaltic lava flows, is always a concern for the island of Sicily because 25 percent of the population lives around the base of Mt. Etna.

The effects of Etna have been positive over the years, with most of the island's income stemming from agriculture, which is abundant because of the rich volcanic soil, and tourism. Should Mt. Etna become a reason to fear visiting Sicily, the effects on the island could be devastating.

Image via youtube

Lacy Langley
Lacy is a writer from Texas. She likes spending time in the home office, homeschooling her kids, playing the didgeridoo, caring for her chickens (Thelma and Louise), Rolos, Christmas, and Labyrinth.