Etna Current Activity
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Etna Decade Volcano, Sicily, Italy


1992 lava flows

Night view of lava flows running down Val Calanna, and towards inhabited areas. The threatened town of Zafferana lies out of the photo towards the right. 20 March 1992.

Although generally considered a rather "harmless" volcano because devastatingly explosive eruptions are very rare (with the strongest explosive activity being confined to the summit craters), Etna is a potentially very hazardous volcano. The hazard is primarily from lava flows which do not present a significant threat to human lives but a serious one to property. The amount of damage to be expected is strongly related to several variables among which the mass eruption rate and the location of eruptive vents are the chief ones. The lower the location of the eruptive vents, the more dangerous will be the eruption. Since only few eruptions have occurred from low-lying vents in this century, the hazard has been, and is still, seriously underestimated.

Page set up on 1 September 1997