MOUNT ETNA

Long Durational Natural Phenomenon

Existence of Mount Etna

Duration: 500,000 Years

Text via Wikipedia
Cover photograph CC BY-SA 3.0 Ben Aveling

Mount Etna is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy, in the Province of Catania, between Messina and Catania. It lies above the convergent plate margin between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate. It is the tallest active volcano on the European continent, currently 3,329 meters high, though this varies with summit eruptions. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 square kilometers with a basal circumference of 140 kilometers. This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity. The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad Plain of Catania to the south. Due to its history of recent activity and nearby population, Mount Etna has been designated a Decade Volcano by the United Nations.

Photograph Public Domain NASA

In June 2013, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Volcanic activity first took place at Etna about half a million years ago, with eruptions occurring beneath the sea off the ancient coastline of Sicily. About 300,000 years ago, volcanism began occurring to the southwest of the summit (center top of volcano) then, before activity moved towards the present center 170,000 years ago. Eruptions at this time built up the first major volcanic edifice, forming a stratovolcano in alternating explosive and effusive eruptions. The growth of the mountain was occasionally interrupted by major eruptions, leading to the collapse of the summit to form calderas.

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