Mount Etna on Sicily is Europe’s most active volcano, and it’s in a constant state of excitement. There’s always some activity going on. Often it’s just quietly steaming away, sometimes even producing pretty smoke rings. But when it erupts it can cough up large rivers of lava, fissure fountains, strombolian fireworks, fuming ash clouds and everything inbetween from its various craters.
In 2011 Etna went through a particular active phase, with nearly 20 outbursts within one year. I went to see it in October that year, and it was vigorously steaming from all its top craters. It was a fascinating sight, but unfortunately it also meant that a walk along the crater rim was out of the question. Just over a week later, it went off again in spectacular fashion.
NaturePic Challenge – Mountains & Volcanoes # 5: Etna, Sicily
About to go off… just over a week later!
Etna summit walk
On another trip to Sicily in 2015 I did a longer walk around the Etna summit area. One moment it was clear and sunny, and the next moment swirls of mist would appear out of nowhere. Sometimes you couldn’t even see more than a few metres ahead. And then the fog suddenly lifted, to reveal a breathtaking view into one of the gaping craters near the top.
View into the gaping Southeast crater.
Bocca Nueva crater with Etna in the background.
Apparently the exact altitude of the Etna has to be recalculated on a regular basis, as it varies with volcanic activity and changes constantly with so many outbursts… The general consensis is around 3350 metres.
(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High
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