After the recent eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano that has forced more than 1,700 local residents from their homes, we have been reminded again of the sheer force of mother nature and of volcanic activity across the world. Italy, in particular, is a region of interest as the country is home to some of the most dangerous and active volcanoes in the world. With over two dozen, Italy is the only mainland country in Europe with active volcanoes.
A map shared on Reddit exemplifies the magnitude of the country’s volcanic topography.
Italy’s volcanism is said to be due to its geographical location as the boundary of the Eurasian tectonic plate and the African tectonic plate sits south in the Mediterranean Sea. The activity is a result of one plate moving under the another.
There are three core clusters of volcanic activity, one in Sicily, another along the northwestern coast, and one in the surrounding region of Pantelleria, an island in the Mediterranean. Three volcanoes in particular are cited as being the most active; Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius. Let’s take a closer look at these.
Etna is not only the granddaddy of volcanoes in Italy, it’s one of the most active in the world and the largest in Europe (10,900 feet). Etna is in a continuous state of activity and it has been named one of the sixteen Decade Volcanoes by the IAVCEI — the International Association of Volcanology and the Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior — due to its proximity to populated areas. Over the past decade, Etna has been particularly unsettled. 2001 had sixteen eruptive episodes during the year and the eruption in March 2017 resulted in ten people being injured.
Stromboli’s activity has been monitored very closely as it has been erupting continuously for 2,000 years. One of eight Aeolian islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily, the island of Stromboli was formed by volcanic activity over a period of 250,000 years. It has been nicknamed the “The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” due to its brightly colored eruptions on the horizon. The island’s current population is somewhere under 1,000 people. Stromboli’s last major eruption occurred in April 2009.
Vesuvius sits on the Bay of Naples. It is perhaps Italy’s most famous volcano due to the eruption in 79AD which buried the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii in ash. Vesuvius has been a focus of volcanology investigation and it is said to have been active for over 400,000 years. The last recorded eruption was in April 1906, which killed over 100 people.