Mount Etna eruptions impress even seasoned volcano watchers

For more than a week, Etna has been belching lava, ash and volcanic rocks on a regular basis.

Italy Etna Volcano
Italy Etna Volcano

Mount Etna has awed even seasoned volcanologists in recent days with spectacular spurts of lava lighting up the Sicilian sky each night.

The latest eruption overnight by Europe’s most active volcano petered out on Tuesday morning, according to Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology.

Italy Etna
Smoke fills the sky during an eruption of Mount Etna (Salvatore Allegra/AP)

For more than a week, Etna has been belching lava, ash and volcanic rocks on a regular basis.

Nearby Catania Airport closed temporarily, and residents of the town of Pedara said it appeared one day last week as if it were raining rocks as a thick blanket of ash covered the town.

Volcanologist Boris Behncke, of the national institute’s Etna observation centre, has followed the latest eruptions with awe.

Italy Etna
Lava flows from the volcano near Catania (Salvatore Allegra/AP)

Writing on the institute’s website, he said that after “gifting us moments of suspense” over the previous nights, Etna finally erupted in a way “those of us who have worked in this for decades have rarely seen”.

Referring to the activity overnight, 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.”

So far there have been no reports of damage or injuries.

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