Etna volcano: Persistent eruptions make it grow 31 meters

The Etna volcano has reached the record height of 3,357 meters. The cause of the increase in height are the persistent eruptions on the southeast crater of the fire mountain. You have now made the rim of this crater the new summit of the volcano, as current measurements have shown. Before that, the north-east crater formed the mountain peak with a height of 3,326 meters.

Mount Etna in Sicily is one of the most active volcanoes on earth and the highest active volcano in Europe. Its recurring eruptions are fed by magma that rises along the plate boundary between Africa and Europe. Geologists also suspect that the flanks of the stratovolcano are prone to landslides. The southeast flank is already sinking several centimeters per year. Should it slip completely, a tsunami in the Mediterranean could be the result.

Re-measurement of a mountain of fire

But for the time being, the eruptions of Mount Etna ensure that the volcano grows. The eruptions of the southeast crater – one of the four summit craters of the Fire Mountain – that have been going on since December 2020 have spilled considerable amounts of lava and rock material. They piled up at the active crater and significantly changed the height and shape of the volcanic peak, as announced by the Italian National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).

The increase in altitude was determined by analyzing images from the Pléiades twin satellites. By recording the same point on the earth from different angles, these satellites allow the height of the earth’s surface to be measured. With the help of satellite images from July 13th and 25th, 2021, the INGV scientists succeeded in creating a new topographical elevation model for Mount Etna.

31 meters more

The result: Mount Etna has a new peak and has grown by 31 meters. As a result, the Feuerberg is now 3,357 (± 3) meters high, as the measurements showed. The reason: In the meantime, so much volcanic material has piled up on the edge of the active southeast crater that it now forms the new highest point of the volcano.

Previously, the northeast crater was considered the official summit of the volcano. It had grown to an altitude of 3,350 meters as a result of the eruptions in 1980/1981. However, due to the collapse of the rims and erosion, the crater rim lost height again over the next few years. In 2018, its height was officially determined to be 3,326 meters. Still, the northeast crater remained the highest point on Etna – until now.

Etna has a tradition of growth through eruptions: volcanologists assume that the fire mountain once began its “career” as an underwater volcano, which gradually grew higher and higher due to lava deposits. Over the past 300,000 years, the stratovolcano has built up more and more layers of lava.

This article was written by Nadja Podbregar