Mount Etna has Grown Even Taller this Year, and it’s Probably Not Done Yet

Mount Etna is an incredible view of the Sicilian landscape. The impressive and very active volcano is the landscape of cities including Catania and Taormina and as of this year, the longest active volcano in Europe will be somewhat longer. The increase in altitude is due this year due to intense volcanic activity, especially since February. The latest measurements from the National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) estimate that the southeastern hole reached an altitude of 3,357 meters (11,013 feet) above sea level.

A few meters higher than the previous height but slightly taller than the record from the early 1980s. Between 1980 and 1981, the Northeast Hole, traditionally considered the elder brother of the two, began an intense eruption that reached 3,350 meters (only 11,000 feet shy) with the rims of the hole. For decades, the rim has been broken. In 2018, it was estimated that it had dropped to an altitude of 3,326 meters (10,912). Nevertheless, it remains the highest peak of the volcano.

This year the volcanic activity began on February 16 and so far there are about 50 eruptions, which emit ash and lava, which significantly increases the height in the southeast hole. The eruption is so ongoing that it could be even longer. Continuous activity has lengthened the volcano but made it much harder to get actual measurements. From July 13 and July 25, INGV had to study three sets of two images from the Plymouth satellite. These were taken as part of an international collaboration with Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories.

To understand the changes in the volcano, the team used a digital reconstruction of the terrain since 2015, where things became more complicated. During the observation, the holes were releasing no gas which made it difficult to guess. Combining the two observations, the team was able to remove the gas and assumed that the highest peak of the volcano was located at the northern end of the southeast hole. Mount Etna is the largest of Italy’s three active volcanoes, about two and a half times higher than the second, the infamous Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis, and Stabia on August 79. Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. In Greek mythology, it was believed to be the prison of the giant typhoon and the location of the nets of Hephaestus.