Earlier this year TEK reported Mount Etna's increasingly volatile volcanic activity. At that time Etna, located on the Italian island of Sicily, was in the throes of its sixth eruption this year.
Italy's Mount Etna has erupted 24 times since 2011. At 11,000 feet tall any eruption is spectacular. It can be viewed even at a distance. What has triggered this particularly active phase is not clear. What is known is that "Etna's eruptions are caused by the African tectonic plate sliding below the Eurasian plate. The Eurasian plate is melting as it moves downwards and hot magma is being forced up to the surface". It does not sound as if any resolution is possible.
Late Saturday Etna erupted again throwing ash and plumes of smoke into the air, although Sunday it is calmer.
Flights in and out of the island of Sicily were not affected although a couple of "air space sectors" were closed. This latest eruption caused no damage to property and no injuries. Those who live close to Etna live in the knowledge that at any time the volcano could erupt. More often than not the eruptions are slight but major eruptions still happen sometimes. The last was recorded in 1992.
Memories of Etna:
We visited Sicily on a day-trip from Malta in September 1991 or was it 1992?. Taormina where we glimpsed Etna in all its glory. The volcano was calm and looked like a huge mountain, but nothing more.
No visit to Sicily is complete though without at least a partial trip up Mount Etna. Our coach began the journey. In parts the volcano resembled a slag or coal heap. Cinders covered the landscape yet there, halfway up the volcano, were a row of tourist shops. Pricey tourist shops, at that.
The shops were small and made out of wood. This seemed a foolish choice, given Etna's track record of eruptions. They looked a little like small swiss chalets but they had wheels underneath. At first sign of an eruption these shops were hastily moved away. It was a reminder that Etna is not always a safe place to visit.
As we boarded our vessel back to Malta we looked back at Etna, whose presence dominates the skyline, and saw a small but steady stream of smoke or steam spewing out of the summit. Sure enough the next day there was an eruption. Boy were we glad we had visited the previous day.
When Chris Hadfield was member of the Canadian Space Agency, on board the International Space Station, he regularly posted amazing images of Earth, including Etna, on his Twitter feed.