science

Mount Etna: Why scientist fears 1,000C volcanic FIREBOMBS pose threat 


Mount Etna is one of the most active and destructive volcanoes in the world and it is constantly reminding the residents on the island of Sicily, Italy, of its sheer power.It is the highest active volcano in Europe, with the peak standing at 3,326m. Eruptions follow a variety of patterns but most occur at the summit, where there are currently five distinct craters.

The last event, in December 2018, was a lateral eruption that spewed volcanic ash into the air and triggered a 4.8 magnitude earthquake.

However, volcanologist Boris Behncke, from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, has warned of another threat Etna poses.

Mr Behncke detailed during Amazon Prime’s “Volcano Stories” series, how 1,000C (1,800F) “bombs” of molten rock are constantly shot up into the sky.

He said in 2018: “You can see the snow here has melted because it was so hot – that’s caused by a bomb – it came here and melted a hole in the snow. 

“It’s a lava bomb and you can see the transformation of magma into a volcanic bomb [coming out Etna].”

Mr Behncke, who works at the Etna Observatory, then went on to warn the crew of the unproductive nature of these bombs.

He added: “Rocks are flying straight out of the summit so we have to wear helmets. 

“If there’s something flying through the air, the helmet can make a real difference. 

“Because you do not want to be in the way of it – it’s alive.

“The mountain is alive – it’s a pressure cooker – it’s like a bottle of champagne before you open it.”

Etna is one of Sicily’s main tourist attractions, with thousands of visitors every year despite its alarming reputation.

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However, scientists have confirmed the fiery volcano is slowly sliding into the Mediterranean Sea, triggering cataclysmic landslides and tsunamis.

Scientists from the Bulletin of Volcanology studying the volcano confirm the entire volcano is slowly sliding in an east-south-east direction towards a small coastal town of Giarre.

The volcano is currently moving at an average pace of 14mm (0.55 inches) every year – but experts say this doesn’t immediately raise the risk of danger around the area.



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