Etna comes out of its torpor: the spectacular images of the last eruption

2021-02-20T19: 25: 00.000 + 01: 00

The Sicilian volcano Etna experienced this Friday a new eruption, spectacular but without danger, causing a rain of ash on the port city of Catania, located about thirty kilometers away. An impressive plume of ash rose above the snow-capped summit of the volcano. “These lava fountains rise to more than 500 meters high. And the ash plume can reach an altitude of five to six kilometers. It is blown away by the winds and dispersed for tens of kilometers around. This is the reason why Catania airport had to be closed for a few hours, “explains Jacques-Marie Bardintzeff, volcanologist at the University of Paris- Saclay.

At nightfall, this cloud had largely dissipated, but Etna was still the scene of numerous incandescent lava flows, offering a striking spectacle to the inhabitants of Catania. Even if there is no risk, the police are watching to prevent the curious from venturing too close to the volcano, which has come out of its torpor since February 16. “At the moment, there is a lot of volcanic material falling. In this case, we are preventing hikers from approaching this area which is potentially dangerous”, explains Angelo Maria Cristaudo, member of the Catania police.

Lava and ash explosions will last for several more days, perhaps weeks or even months.– Jacques-Marie Bardintzeff, volcanologist at the University of Paris-Saclay

Covering an area of ​​1,250 square kilometers, Etna is the highest active volcano (3,324 meters) in Europe, with frequent eruptions for around 500,000 years. “The explosions of lava and ash will last for several more days, perhaps weeks or even months”, explains Jacques-Marie Bardintzeff. “The peaks of intensity will gradually be spaced out in time. From everyday, it will pass to every few days, then every week. And then, it will stop”, continues the volcanologist. On December 13, a less spectacular eruption took place. A phenomenon that is not exceptional. Each year, no less than fifty eruptions are recorded across the world.

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