Mount Etna: Expert discusses a ‘major threat’ in 2018
On February 16, Mt Etna burst into life, ploughing debris and ash into the sky as Europe’s most active volcano woke up. Lava flows burst 1.3 kilometres down the side of the volcano and ash was scattered over the Sicilian mountain. Following the initial blast on February 16, another explosion happened less than 48 hours later.
And now satellite images have revealed the sheer extent of the aftermath of the eruption.
Images taken by the San Francisco-based company Planet, which operates a 21-strong satellite fleet called SkySat, show the before and after of the blast.
In the first image, snow can be seen up the side of Mt Etna, but its rocky and mountainous surface can still be seen.
In the second image, taken on February 17, a huge plume of smoke can be seen lingering over the volcano, as well as a “fresh coat of ash”.
Mt Etna eruption: Satellite images show ‘fresh coat of ash’ across huge volcano
Etna before the eruption
Planet said: “Following a brief spurt of lava fountaining on the evening of February 16, 2021, the wintry summit of Mt Etna was covered in lava, ash, and other tephra (bits of volcanic material ejected during an eruption).
“Emissions of steam and other gases, as well as fluid lava, continued through February 18.
“Planet’s high-resolution SkySat constellation captured the dramatic changes that occurred on the volcano over only 24 hours.”
Mt Etna is continuing to show signs of activity, according to monitoring service Volcano discovery.
READ MORE: Mount Etna eruption: ESA satellite images show power of Mt Etna blast
Etna after the eruption
Since the initial blast on February 16, there have been three more blasts, although none were as powerful as the first.
Lava is continuing to flow down the side of the volcano, although the population of Sicily is in no danger.
However, a huge plume of smoke has overshadowed the island.
At 3,329 metres tall, Mt Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe.
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Etna burst into life on February 16
Mt Etna is recognised as one of the most active volcanoes in the world with an almost constant rate of activity.
It has been restless and aggressive for millennia, with its first confirmed eruption occurring around 6000 BC, according to the Smithsonian Institution.
The volcano is constantly shifting and bubbling, with around three million people living under its shadow, within a 62-mile radius.
Scientists have found Etna could trigger lethal tsunamis along the coast of Italy and Sicily if the giant volcano slides into the Mediterranean sea.
Analysis of the active volcano has found Etna is gradually creeping towards the sea under the bulk of its own weight.
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The slow movement has caused one of the volcano’s sides on the east of Sicily to dangerously weaken.
If the volcano collapses into the sea, it “could lead to a tsunami” in the popular Italian holiday destination.
Dr Morelia Urlaub, of the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany, warned large portions of the volcano are “continuously slipping into the sea”.
She has said: “This movement is important to study as it could lead to a catastrophic collapse of the volcano.
“The results of this study suggest Etna’s flank movement in fact poses a greater hazard than previously thought.”