We examine Europe's tallest active volcano and look at where it is based, when it last erupted, and why it's sliding into the Mediterranean.
Where is Mount Etna?
The volcano Mount Etna sits on the east coast of the island of Sicily, Italy.
It is set between the cities of Messina and Catania and lies between the convergent plate margin between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate.
Towering Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe and stands at a staggering 3,329m – making it the highest peak in Italy south of the Alps.
Etna is also by far the largest of three active volcanoes in Italy and roughly two and a half times the height of the second largest Mount Vesuvius.
Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is an almost constant state of activity.
The fertile soil around the volcano allows for extensive agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across its lower slopes.
The volcano was added to a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2013.
When did did the volcano last erupt?
Mount Etna's most severe recent eruption was on March 16, 2017, when ten people including a BBC news crew were injured.
A further eruption in August 2018 sent plumes of ash and lava spewing in the air but no evacuations or injuries were reported.
The volcano is active and still erupts because of its position between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, as well as the fault between the African and lonian micoplate.
The lonian plate is tilted backward – allowing space for mantle magna to well up to the surface.
Is Etna sliding into the sea and could it cause a tsunami?
Scientists say the giant volcano is edging closer to the Mediterranean Sea by 14mm every year, which could result in "devastating" consequences.
The movement has been put down to underlying platform of weak, pliable sediments.
Open University geologist Dr John Murray believes this is the first sliding of this magnitude to be recorded.
Writing in the Bulletin of Volcanology, he wrote: there was "strong geological evidence" of sliding have a natural tendency to result in "large catastrophic sector collapse" and "devastating consequences" such as a tsunami.
Research published in Science Advances in 2018 showed a "slow landslide" taking place that could could accelerate and move fast into the sea.
Speaking to the Independent, Dr Morelia Urlaub from Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research said they had been monitoring Etna on shore for 30 years – just a fraction of the mount's age.
About the landslide she said: “It could happen in 10 or 100 or 100,000 years – we can’t tell.”
What other eruptions of Mount Etna have taken place?
Etna's most destructive eruption took place in March 1669 and produced lava flows that destroyed at least 10 villages on its southern flank.
The lava reached the walls of the city of Catania five weeks later on April 15.
An eruption in 1928 was the first time a population a centre had been destroyed by Etna since 1169.
The village of Mascali was almost completely destroyed in two days.
In 1971 the Etna Observatory destroyed the first generation of the Etna cable car.
Between 2002 and 2003 a series of activity threw up a huge column of ash that could be seen from space.
It fell as far away as Libya – 370miles from Sicily.
Through January 2011 to February 2012 Etna experience intense activity and erupted frequently, causing Catania airport to be closed on several occasions.
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