Lavafon gardens hundreds of meters high, debris and an orange glow above the volcano that was seen from numerous Sicilian balconies. Etna stirred itself very strongly yesterday for the first time this year.
Due to the eruption, the airport of nearby Catania remained closed until this morning. In addition, the mayor of the city forbade residents from going out on a bike or moped, because centimeters thick volcanic rock (lapilli) fell from the sky. Even today, the volcano was still bumbling and light earthquakes were recorded.
The eruption of Etna yesterday, which lasted about an hour:
As far as we know, there have been no injuries, but the Italian authorities are monitoring the volcano in Sicily, which is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
According to volcanologist Elske de Zeeuw-van Dalfsen of the KNMI, the immediate residents in the villages on the flanks could be warned in good time yesterday about the eruption.
“ Mount Etna is one of the best observed volcanoes in the world. Hes full of instruments,” she explains. “In recent weeks there has been an increase in activity, so in advance numerous prohibitions have been issued around the volcano. Besides, people know where they live. They are well informed and prepared.”
It is evident from the sober reaction of Stefano Branco, head of the Italian volcanological institute. “Weve seen worse and dont worry at all,” he said to the news agency AGI after the spectacular eruption.
Nevertheless, according to volcanologist De Zeeuw-van Dalfsen, the Sicilians await a number of “exciting” days. At the eruption, lava flows rolled off the flanks. They could expand in the event of a new eruption and threaten villages.
De Zeeuw-van Dalfsen: “The question is: what will happen now? Does the activity decrease further and was that it? Or does new magma flow into the volcano and continue? We dont see any evidence yet, but that could change in a few hours and then it could go fast.”
At least she followed the eruption with above average interest. Together with European partners, the KNMI recently placed a new measuring instrument in an observation centre near the over 3300 metres high peak of Mount Etna.
“ This is a gravity meter that picks up minor variations in local gravity,” says De Zeeuw-van Dalfsen. “For example, when magma flows into the volcano and the pressure in the volcano increases. Ultimately, it would allow us to predict outbursts and also its severity. Before that, this was wonderful, I think we picked up something.”
One day after the eruption, the Sicilians washed away the ashes:
Marco Viccaro, president of the Italian Volcanologist Association, explains in Corriere della Sera that yesterdays Etna eruption is linked to the increased activity of the volcano since mid-2019.
At the end of last year, another famous volcano, the Kilauea, became active in Hawaii after a year and a half of relative tranquility. Whether global volcanic activity is increasing? “That sometimes seems so, but that is not the case,” says volcanologist De Zeeuw-van Dalfsen. “It remains more or less the same. It also depends on what you hear in the media. An eruption of Etna gets the news rather than one somewhere on a remote island.”