Mount Etna - Photo by Shawn Appel on Unsplash
The astonishing volcano has erupted for the 13th time this month, expelling ash and debris into the sky, which has reversed into the city with not a few consequences on the local population.
The volcano is one of the most active in the world and has gained a spot in the Unesco Sites as the most active stratovolcano in the world.
The beautiful Etna, a true Sicilian pride, has always brought many benefits to the land and hosts a variety of flora and fauna to the point that it has become a great site for research and education throughout Europe.
Despite its activity, the volcano has always been considered safe, so that it was allowed to visit its sites and craters. Its eruptions were usually mostly non-explosive and confined to lava flows and a few debris.
While since the 1669 earthquake, and the huge law flow of 1928, the volcano hasn't raised any alarms, but it is now believed that some endemic elements are changing the structure of it and could potentially become dangerous for the beautiful land.
Ashes and debris rains are not the only problems that the eruptions are causing. Earthquakes and thunders are scaring the Sicilian population so much that they are wondering if their beloved mountain has suddenly awakened and if in the future will eventually become a deadly force.
So is the Etna really changing and becoming more dangerous?
Eolian magma flow
It was recently discovered that the latest activity of the volcano due to its branches "feeding off" from the lava of another volcanic basin, and because of this reason, there could be more explosives episodes in the future.
The hypothesis is that a laceration of the earth crust in the last thousands of years, gave way to magma coming from the Eolian volcanos, which are more explosives and dangerous.
experts observing volcano explosion in Stromboli - Eolian Islands - Italy
Photo by Sergio Cima on Unsplash
Mountainside sliding towards the sea
Another potential problem is how gravity is affecting the mountain.
We can notice that the East side of the volcano is sliding 2-3 centimetres per year towards the sea. It was also discovered that the process could be accelerated by the absence of a mountain foot to stop the volcano from sliding. Eventually, within years, the Etna could be reversing to the Mediterranean sea and cause destructive tsunamis to the land.
Photo by Samir Kharrat on Unsplash
So should we worry?
The volcano is being constantly monitored by the experts to prevent and limit, where possible, its powerful explosions. I wondered how does the population take this new series of events, so I asked Zaira, a young lady living in Catania if she feels worried or threatened by the volcano and what are the biggest consequences she and her family facing.
It feels weird, and it's definitely not easy to live under an active volcano in a city that was re-built seven times because of its eruptions. We grew up with a fearful and loving reverence towards our Etna, which we also call "Mungibeddu", which in dialect means beautiful and scary at the same time. I live in central Catania, so I feel quite relaxed about the situation, but when I feel the Earth shaking, I am reminded of the mountain's presence and it gives me chills. I am not scared but I grew up with lots of emergencies alarms and government-issued warnings to stay indoors, also our children are educated regarding the seismic dangers and precautions. It's a hard situation to live in, not so much for the volcano but because its eruptions often cause earthquakes which cause the fall of buildings and homes. At this very moment, however, our most concern regards the ashes and debris that fall to the ground and block our streets, forces us to close airports and fall on our crops ruining them completely.