Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mount Etna is active again!

Catania, October 26 - Experts swooped on Mount Etna on Thursday after the volcano sprang back into life .The volcanologists examined a fresh lava flow on the south side of the volcano, coming out of a fissure that opened up at the weekend at a height of 2,000 metres .Lava is now flowing from three craters on the mountain accompanied by blasts, black smoke and ash .

The new craters, however, are far from any inhabited areas, experts stressed .Etna is Europe's most active volcano .Earlier this month the European Space Agency presented a 3D simulation of the volcano's seismic movements ."Seen from above, Etna looks like a huge creature breathing fitfully," ESA said, reporting a 15cm-high ripple "as the mountain's lungs fill up and convulsively disgorge lava and gas".

In October 2002, it was rocked by a series of tremors and minor eruptions which damaged buildings and left 1,000 people temporarily homeless .More serious volcanic activity occurred in the summer of 2001 .The eruptions made international headlines as parts of an important ski resort, the Rifugio Sapienza, were engulfed and the town of Nicolosi was threatened with a similar fate .

Viewers around the world were also held spellbound by the beauty of the spectacle, which experts said was one of the most unusual and complex eruptions in three centuries .But the volcano's last major eruption was in 1992, when the Italian military had to use controlled explosions to divert lava away from the town of Zafferana on the mountain's lower slopes .

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