Europe’s largest and most active volcano, Mount Etna, is spewing columns of smoke and sending lava cascading down its mountainside during its latest eruption.
The Mount Etna observatory says lava and ash are spewing from a new fracture on the active Sicilian volcano amid an unusually high level of seismic activity.
Mount Etna, which looms above the city of Catania in Sicily, has been steadily erupting over the last month, with hoards of people heading to the volcano to capture stunning photographs and video of molten rock lighting up its snowy slopes.
Etna, or ‘Mongibello’, erupts frequently but rarely poses a threat to humans. According to the website Volcano Discovery, its historical volcanism has been documented for around 2000 years, dating back to 1500BC.
At almost 11,000 ft, Etna is Italy’s highest point south of the Alps and Europe’s highest active volcano, being about two and a half times the height of Mount Vesuvius, near Naples.
The Etna observatory said a swarm of 130 tremors have been recorded by Monday midday, the most powerful registering a magnitude of 4.0. It reported lava flows from the volcano and said a new fracture had opened near its southeast crater.
The owner of a refuge on the volcano says hikers are being brought down from higher elevations to 1,900 meters (6,230 feet) for their safety. But there are no reports of injuries, and so far the spewing ash was not causing disruptions to residents of nearby towns and cities.
It is also the second most productive volcano on the planet, after Kilauea on Hawaii. Each year, the 700,000-year old and 24-mile wide volcano produces enough lava to fill a 108-story skyscrapers, spewing tonnes of molten rock across the island of Sicily.
Etna, the largest of Italy’s three active volcanoes, has been particularly active since July.
More than a hundred earthquakes and villages covered in volcanic ash – the aftermath of Mount Etna’s first ‘flank eruption’ in over a decade[Tap to expand] https://t.co/qaw2mvfk2F pic.twitter.com/9n9v7UcHNH
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) December 25, 2018
Source: The Associated Press & Daily Mail