Science

Mt. Etna Eruption Sends Lava A Mile High Overnight On Sicily

The latest eruption of Italy’s Mount Etna volcano on the island of Sicily has impressed even seasoned scientists.

“Amazingly tall (more than 1500 m) lava fountains and spectacular ‘fountain fan’ during #Etna‘s violent paroxysm during the night of 22-23 February 2021,” local volcanologist Boris Behncke from Italy’s national Etna Observatory said on Twitter.

For metric-illiterate Americans like myself, 1,500 meters is just shy of a mile.

Behncke described the powerful eruption as something many veteran scientists “have rarely seen.”

While the volcano has been sending lava high in the sky, it’s also letting off a fair amount of sulfur dioxide in the region, as seen by satellites:

YouTubers on Sicily also captured the full paroxysm, which is volcanologist-speak for a short burst of violent activity.

Etna is the most active volcano in Europe and serves as the dramatic backdrop for the city of Catania, where it erupts frequently.

For the record, eruptions have reportedly reached nearly two miles high in the past, according to Volcano Discovery.

Local officials say the eruptions, which came not long after another active period last week, aren’t cause for concern.

Nonetheless, the volcanic activity does affect flights to the island and can leave a layer of ash covering many outdoor surfaces.

There have been no reports of injuries or major damage from the recent eruptions.

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