IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Mount Etna

15th November, 2023 Geography

Mount Etna

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  • On the island of Sicily, the Mount Etna volcano erupted again, spewing ash miles into the sky.
  • The eruptive column is believed to be more than 14,700 feet above sea level.
  • It is worth noting that volcanic eruptions only make headlines when the big ones erupt – Etna, Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Merapi, Eyjafjallajökull, or Fagradalsfjall.

What is a volcano?

  • Volcanoes are openings, or vents where lava, tephra (small rocks), and steam erupt onto the Earth’s surface.
  • Volcanoes can be on land and in the ocean.
  • They are, in part, a result of their own eruptions but also the general formation of our planet, as tectonic plates move.


  • There are four main types of volcanoes: cinder cones, composite or strato volcanoes, shield volcanoes and lava
  • Their type is determined by how the lava from an eruption flows and how that flow affects the volcano, and, as a result, how it affects its surrounding environment.


  • Essentially, it is a case of magma, or molten rock, below the surface of the Earth, bubbling up, rising and overflowing,
  • The magma finds its way to vents in the volcano and gets spewed across the land and into the atmosphere.
  • When magma erupts from a volcano, it is called lava.

Can scientists predict volcanic eruptions?

  • Scientists can forecast volcanic explosions several hours, if not several days, in advance.
  • This is not the case with earthquakes, which are far more difficult to forecast.
  • Scientists study seismographic data from earthquakes and other tremors because they can be precursors to volcanic eruptions.
  • They keep an eye out for evidence of ground deformation induced by magma migration.
  • They also measure volcanic gas releases as well as changes in gravity and magnetic fields.

Volcanoes particularly active in the Pacific Ring of Fire

  • The Pacific Ring of Fire includes New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Japan, and the western coast of the Americas.
  • About 90% of all earthquakes worldwide strike within this region.

About Mount Etna

  • Mount Etna is an active stratovolcano on Sicily's east coast.
  • It is Europe's most active volcano and one of the world's largest.
  • Its volcanic activity goes back to 1500 B.C.
  • It has erupted more than 200 times since then.
  • Etna has erupted in a variety of modes, including tremendous explosions and massive lava flows.

Other volcanoes erupt for significantly longer periods of time than Etna

  • The Kilauea volcano in Hawaii was one of the most well-known long-term eruptions.
  • It began pouring in 1983 and continues – practically nonstop — for 35 years until 2018, only to restart in 2021. The eruption is still in progress.
  • Dukono began erupting in Indonesia in August 1933 and is still active today.
  • The eruption of Santa Maria in Guatemala began in June 1922 and continues to this day.
  • Yasur in Vanuatu first erupted around 1270 (110 years ago) and was still erupting as of June 2023.


Examine the strategies that countries can adopt to mitigate the risks associated with volcanic activity. Provide examples from different parts of the world to illustrate your answer.