Mount Etna Case Study 2013 Tx68

Location: NE Sicily, Italy

More than 25% of Sicily’s population live on Etna’s slopes, with Catania city at its base.

The Volcano: Active, composite (stratovolcano), formed by the Eurasian plate subducting beneath the African. 3350m in height and growing.

Key characteristics: Regular violent explosions and lava flows. Multiple active chambers, several craters, 300+ vents – Etna erupts from both summit & side vents.

Local Economy: Rich volcanic soils make the land fertile for olive groves, vineyards, citrus fruits and orchards. Piano Provenzano ski resort is on Etna.

July 2001... One of Etna’s largest recorded eruptions to date. Magma caused the volcano to bulge, resulting in earthquakes, followed by Strombolianstyle eruptions with ash, lava and volcanic bombs. Eruptions lasted for 24 days.

Impacts: Holiday villas, roads & buildings damaged (SOCIAL); Local vegetation & habitats destroyed (ENVIRONMENTAL); Catania airport closed due to ash; Orange groves & vineyards destroyed; farmland covered in ash; chairlift at ski resort damaged; ash fell in Catania (ECONOMIC). No deaths.

Response: Evacuation; US army dropped concrete to stop lava flow; cancelled holidays damaged the tourist industry; mass clean-up operation in Catania & surroundings; £5.6m aid from Italian government (SHORT TERM). Improved monitoring systems; better emergency planning; tourism used to boost economy; tax breaks given to locals to assist rebuilding; raised awareness of Sicily as a tourist destination (LONG TERM).

Post-2001: Etna has erupted annually but is well monitored and actively managed.

Mount Etna, a 3320 m active stratovolcano on eastern Sicily, erupted on Saturday 26 October 2013, producing an ash column which briefly closed airspace over the island and and throwing hot ash and lava out of its crater. This follows a series of small Earthquakes beneath the volcano on Friday 25 October. The eruption was not considered large enough for an evacuation of nearby villages. Etna is usually considered to be the tallest volcano in Europe (Mount Teide on Tenerife is taller, and being part of Spain lies within political Europe, though it is actually part of the African tectonic plate), as well as its most active. Etna is seldom completely inactive, though it has more and less active periods. The last major eruption on Etna occurred in 1993, when a lava flow threatened the town of Zafferana.

Ash column over Mount Etna on Saturday 26 October 2013. Reuters.

Southeastern Italy lies on the edge of the Eurasian Plate, close to its margin with Africa. The African Plate is being subducted beneath Italy on along a margin that cuts through the island of Sicily. The African plate is being subducted beneath Italy, and as it sinks is melted by the friction and heat of the Earth's interior. Some of the melted material then rises through the overlying plate fuelling the volcanoes of southern Italy.

The location of Mount Etna. Google Maps.

See also Magnitude 4.5 Earthquake off the coast of Tunisia, Magnitude 4.3 Earthquake on eastern Sicily, Earthquake off the coast of Tunisia, Eruptions on Stromboli and Magnitude 5.3 quake in southern Italy kills at least one person.

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