Mount Etna eruption stuns volcano enthusiasts

Lava and ash spewed from volcano for days, blanketing towns in ash and forcing an airport to close

Large streams of red hot lava flow as Mount Etna, Europe's most active volcano, leaps into action, as seen from the village of Fornazzo
Large streams of red hot lava flow as Mount Etna, Europe's most active volcano, leaps into action, as seen from the village of Fornazzo

Europe’s most active volcano has been erupting for more than a week, creating spectacular images of lava, ash and volcanic rocks lighting up the Sicilian sky at night.

Mount Etna’s latest eruption overnight petered out on Tuesday morning, according to Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology.

Rivers of lava were seen gushing from the volcano’s southeast crater, with clouds of debris rising several kilometres above its summit.

The red and orange glow of the magma resulted in mesmerising photographs. Nearby Catania Airport was forced to close temporarily due to the amount of ash being spewed forth from Mount Etna.

Residents in the town of Pedara said during one day last week, it appeared as though it were raining rocks as a thick blanket of ash covered the town.

A number of Sicilians in view of the volcano and its huge clouds of ash posted photos and videos of the phenomenon, describing it was “majestic” and “spectacular”.

Volcanologist Boris Behncke, of the national institute’s Etna observation centre, said the volcano had been “gifting us moments of suspense” over the past few nights.

He wrote on the institute’s website that Etna’s final eruption happened in a way that “those of us who have worked in this for decades have rarely seen”.

He tweeted on Tuesday: “Did I call the 20-21 February paroxysm of Etna ‘incredibly powerful? Well, its successor, in the night of 22-23 February, was MUCH more powerful.”

In a separate tweet, he posted a slow-mo video of Etna’s eruption overnight, adding: “Amazingly tall (more than 1,500m) lava fountains and spectacular ‘fountain fan’ during Etna’s violent paroxysm during the night of 22-23 February.”

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