Mount Etna sends ash and lava skywards
Updated: 06:46, Saturday April 14, 2012
Europe’s tallest active volcano, Mount Etna, has been blasting flaming lava and ash into the air in its sixth eruption this year.
The eruption is the 24th in a series that began in January 2011.
Rock blew off the southeast side of the mountain, which is only 10 miles from the Zafferana Etnea village and 18 miles North of the town of Catania on the Italian island of Sicily.
No warnings of danger have so far been issued by authorities and Catania International Airport has remained open.
Eruptions from Etna, which reaches 11,000ft, have been caused by the African tectonic plate sliding below the Eurasian plate.
The Eurasian plate is melting as it moves downwards and hot magma is being forced up to the surface.
Etna’s most powerful recorded eruption was in 1669 when the mountain top was destroyed and lava ran in to the Mediterranean Sea.
It is difficult to predict when the mountain will erupt next.
But Dr John Murray estimates that between 2007 and 2015 Etna’s output will be about half of what it was between 1987 and 1995.
There is no chance the volcano will stay quiet, though.