Mount Etna on Sicily, Italy's one of the most famous volcanoes, started erupting once again this weekend. Flames and sparks have been shooting into the air, reaching a height of about 250 meters, according to witnesses.
Whenever Etna comes alive, local authorities always fear that the ash clouds and heavy smoke could cut off the island from the continent by block flights out of Catania airport. However, strong winds helped this time. The ash has been blown away towards the Ionian Sea, with no flights cancelled or delayed.
Mount Etna, which remained inactive for six months, started erupting on Saturday morning and continued through Saturday and Sunday. With the latest activity, the grand total of Etna eruptions for this year stands at eight, which makes the year 2011 quite an active year for the Sicilian volcano.
Etna's eighth paroxysmal eruptive episode of the year 2011 lasted less than one day, with a phase of lava fountaining activity lasting about 2-3 hours.
This was the most intense eruption since the first one in the night of 12-13 January this year. Unlike the earlier eruptions, except for the first one, the lava flow emitted during the 30 July paroxysm was longer. It immediately reached the sloping terrain to the north and northeast of Monte Centenari.
Have a look at the spectacular photos of Mount Etna eruptions:
Lava pouring down the side of Mount Etna during the July 30 eruption. Boris Behncke, INGV-Catania
Lava fountaining activity, ash plume, and lava flow from the new, and actively growing, cone on the east flank of the old Southeast Crater cone (barely discernible at extreme left), 30 July 2011. Marco Neri, INGV-Catania
Mount Etna in Sicily belches a glowing fountain of lava. mountetna.net
Mount Etna on Sicily, Italy’s one of the most famous volcanoes, started erupting once again at this weekend. mountetna.net
Mount Etna erupts again. Salvatore Allegra, Flickr
Flames and sparks have been shooting into the air, reaching a height of about 250 meters. Salvatore Allegra, Flickr
Mount Etna spews lava on the southern Italian island of Sicily January 13, 2011. Mount Etna is Europe's tallest and most active volcano. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello