Mount Etna May Collapse Into the Sea

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The strong effect of gravity is drawing Mount Etna towards the sea, and some parts of the volcano may collapse in the future, causing a catastrophic event.

There is no hint that something may happen in the near future, but a new study has discovered that the volcano’s southeastern flank is on the move, above and under the sea level at the same time. The movements dramatically increase the chance of a slope collapse, which was already anticipated at some point, but the risk was thought to be lower.

Researchers are hard at work, as they try to understand what causes the move and how a collapse may be triggered in the future.

Agitated Etna

Mount Etna is the most active volcano found on the European continent. It has been active since 6000 B.C., with periods of rest between the eruptive cycles. The newest cycle started back in 2013, according to information received from the Global Volcanism program.

While analyzing GPS data, researchers have observed that the eastern flank of Mount Etna has been silently moving towards the sea in the last thirty years. One source stated that the slope moved around 0.5-inch (or 14 millimeters) in a decade, between 2001 and 2011.

The literal hot topic is the cause of this movement. Some researchers have theorized that move may be caused by the magma moving beneath the volcano. Others believe that the constant material that is spilled on its slopes is to blame, as is jet adds more mass, which is pulled down by gravity, a phenomenon that is commonly observed among large volcanoes.

The base of the volcano is also submerged, and this was the first underwater scan. Using and advanced seafloor sensor, the researchers discovered that the move was gradual, and it was not influenced by seismic waves or other external events. It seems that gravity is, in fact, the culprit.

The slopes will be monitored as more data is collected.

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Sarah Is a researcher and law student at York University (TORONTO). She has worked as the Director of the Graduate Lawyering Program. After school Sarah worked for an American law firms in Moscow, Russia for three years. She graduated from Columbia Law School, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs and Harvard College. she research interest is in human rights and health law, with a particular focus on the law and policy of vaccination.


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