The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Monday, 22 October 2018 01:00

Mount Etna is sliding into the Mediterranean sea

Mount Etna is sliding into the Mediterranean sea Mount Etna is sliding into the Mediterranean sea.

Mount Etna volcano is sliding into the Mediterranean Sea and this may trigger a catastrophic tsunami.

The southeastern flank of Mount Etna—one of Europe's highest active volcanoes, located on the Italian island of Sicily—is sliding into the Mediterranean Sea at the rate of a few centimeters per year. Dr. Morelia Urlaub of the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany stated: "This movement is important to study as it could lead to a catastrophic collapse of the volcano and this could lead to a tsunami''.

According to a new research, Etna's slide isn't caused by pressure from magma inside the volcano but it's likely caused by gravity pulling on Etna's lower underwater slopes, far from the summit. The researchers emphasize that Etna is currently prone to catastrophic collapse and the same assumption applies on other coastal and island volcanoes. Scientists have calculated Etna's movement and they found that the entire edifice slid downslope at an average of 14 millimetres a year between 2001 and 2012. In addition, the whole volcano is expanding outwards from the summit in all directions, meaning its total annual movement towards the sea is several centimetres.

This new research also showed that the underwater slope remained stable for a year (between April 2016 and July 2017) but then slid four centimetres in one eight-day period before finally stabilizing again. Moreover, the data shows that the amount of movement is smallest at the summit and biggest at the foot of the volcano which indicates that the movement is caused by gravity.

There's also the question of whether this movement could one day turn into a catastrophic collapse. Urlaub's data indicates that it's possible, although she notes that there's not enough information yet to fully evaluate the hazard. Geologists need decades' worth of monitoring data before they can tell the difference between normal and fast slippage.


Read 594 times Last modified on Monday, 22 October 2018 17:42

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