Europe's Tallest Volcano Is Growing—and Fast

Mount Etna at its tallest recorded height following 50 eruptions in 6 months
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2021 11:51 AM CDT
Europe's Tallest Volcano Is Growing—and Fast
In this Feb. 16, 2021 file photo, lava gushes from the Mt. Etna volcano near Catania, southern Italy.   (AP Photo/Salvatore Allegra, File)

Europe's tallest and most active volcano has grown 100 feet in just six months, owing to some 50 eruptions, reaching its tallest height in recorded history, according to a new analysis. For the past 40 years, Mount Etna's tallest peak has been its northeastern crater. But the southeastern crater, the youngest of four, now towers above its "older brother" at 11,013 feet above sea level, according to the National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), located at the foot of the volcano in Catania on Sicily's east coast. About 50 eruptions since Feb. 16 have caused "a conspicuous transformation of the shape of the volcano," the institute said Tuesday, per Live Science. This was revealed in "two triplets of images" from the Pléiades satellites, taken July 13 and 25, which were compared to data from 2015. INGV notes the new data is accurate to within 10 feet.

"The southeast crater is now much higher than its 'older brother,' the northeast crater, for 40 years the undisputed peak of Etna," the INGV says in a release. The northeastern crater hit a peak height of 10,990 feet after eruptions in 1980 and 1981. Following collapses at the edges of the crater, it was measured at 10,912 feet in the summer of 2018, per Live Science. Luckily, the recent volcanic activity is "posing little danger" to surrounding communities, though plenty of ash has proved a disruption, per the Guardian. One resident tells the outlet that ash sometimes falls "like rain," turning streets black. "Depending on the wind, the rumblings of the volcano reach Catania and make the windows shake," the woman adds. "But there is also the spectacle, especially in the evening, when you see this red plume that moves." You can tour the craters here. (Read more Mount Etna stories.)

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