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About The Mount Etna Volcano 


The Mount Etna volcano began erupting again on the island of Sicily, sending ash miles into the sky.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Mount Etna
  2. Why do volcanoes erupt?

Mount Etna

  • Location: Active stratovolcano situated on the east coast of Sicily, Italy.
  • Activity Status: Europe’s most active volcano and one of the largest globally.
  • Historical Activity: Recorded volcanic activity dating back to 1500 B.C.
  • Eruption Frequency: Erupted more than 200 times since its recorded history.
Eruption Characteristics

Diverse Styles:

  • Displays various eruption styles, including violent explosions and extensive lava flows.
Comparison with Other Volcanoes

Duration of Activity:

  • While Mount Etna is highly active, some volcanoes have longer eruption periods.


  • Kilauea volcano in Hawaii had a continuous eruption from 1983 to 2018, resuming in 2021 and still ongoing.
  • Dukono in Indonesia has been erupting since August 1933.
  • Santa Maria in Guatemala has been erupting since June 1922.
  • Yasur in Vanuatu started erupting around 1270 (± 110 years) and is still active as of June 2023.

Why do volcanoes erupt?

  • The deeper one goes under the surface of the Earth towards its core, the hotter it gets.
  • The geothermal gradient, the amount that the Earth’s temperature increases with depth, indicates heat flowing from the Earth’s warm interior to its surface.
  • At a certain depth, the heat is such that it melts rocks and creates what geologists call ‘magma’.
  • Magma is lighter than solid rock and hence it rises, collecting in magma chambers.
  • Chambers which have the potential to cause volcanic eruptions are found at a relatively shallow depth, between six to ten km under the surface.
  • As magma builds up in these chambers, it forces its way up through cracks and fissures in Earth’s crust.
  • This is what we call a volcanic eruption. The magma that surfaces on the Earth’s crust is referred to as lava.
Some famous volcanoes
  • Any volcano that has erupted within the Holocene period (in the last 11,650 years) is considered to be “active” by scientists.
  • “Dormant” volcanoes are those active volcanoes which are not in the process of erupting currently, but have the potential to do so in the future.
  • Mauna Loa was a dormant volcano for the last 38 years.
  • “Extinct” volcanoes are ones which scientists predict will never face any further volcanic activity.
    • Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK, is an extinct volcano.

Here are some famous volcanoes in the world.

Krakatoa, Indonesia
  • One of the most catastrophic volcanic eruptions ever occurred in Krakatoa in 1883 (VEI 6). The volcano released huge plumes of steam and ash.
  • The explosions were so brutal, they were heard 3,100km away in Perth, Western Australia. According to the Dutch colonial authorities, Krakatoa’s eruption and the consequent tsunamis caused 36,417 deaths, though modern estimates peg the number to be much higher.
Mount Vesuvius, Italy
  • In 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius erupted (VEI 5), in one of the deadliest eruptions in European history, killing as many as 16,000 and destroying the town of Pompeii.
  • According to scientists, the explosion released 100,000 times the thermal energy that was released with the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • It is said to have instantly boiled the blood of all those who were too close to it.
Mount Fuji, Japan
  • A defining image of Japan, Mount Fuji towers over the countryside with its snow-capped peaks and barren surface.
  • It last erupted in 1707-1708 (VEI 5) and had a devastating effect on the local population.
  • The tephra release led to significant agricultural decline, leading to widespread starvation in the Edo (now Tokyo) area.
  • Although this eruption itself did not directly kill a lot of people, its subsequent impact proved deadly.
Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland
  • Sometimes referred to as E15, it is one of the many volcanic features of Iceland.
  • In 2010, a relatively small eruption (VEI 4) managed to bring air traffic in Europe to a complete standstill.
  • 20 countries closed their airspace, impacting approximately 10 million travellers.
Kīlauea, Hawaii
  • Adjacent to the Mauna Loa, this is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. It has been erupting intermittently since recorded history, with its eruption lasting from 1983 to 2018 being the longest continuous eruption ever recorded.
  • It is a major tourist attraction, with the earliest hotel built at the edge of the volcano in the 1840s.
Mount St Helens, USA
  • Located in Washington State, Mount St. Helens was a major eruption that occurred on May 18, 1980 (VEI 5), and it remains the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history.
  • It started after an earthquake hit the region, killing 57 and causing property damage over $1 billion.
  • It remains an active volcano and one that is considered to be amongst the riskiest by scientists.

-Source: Indian Express

December 2023