Mount Etna – Eruption Plume and Scattered Lapilli

August 13, 2021

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Photographer: Rosario Catania

Summary Author: Rosario Catania; Cadan Cummings

The photos above show volcanic activity from March 2021 at Mount Etna (10,892 ft or 3,320 m) located in Sicily, Italy. A series of Strombolian eruptions here in February and March were some of the most energetic in the history of the Southeastern Crater. Over the course of March 4 – March 7, two short outbursts occurred causing lava fountaining and 5.5 to 7 miles (9 to 11 km) tall ash plumes (shown at left). Magma that is trapped below the volcano and is rising to the surface contains dissolved gases, which are released into the atmosphere during eruptions. The gigantic plume shown here is composed of volcanic gases, entrained air, and fragments of volcanic rock scientifically known as tephra. While the plume drifted, small pieces of tephra- called lapilli or little stones in Latin- were deposited on the landscape as far as 6 to 12.5 miles (10 to 20 km) away from Mount Etna. These lapilli are visible next to a plant emerging in the rich volcanic soil. Picture taken March 6, 2021. 

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