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See it: Italian volcano rumbles to life in spectacular style

Caroline Floyd

Sunday, August 26, 2018, 3:12 PM - After a refreshing 5 month long nap, Europe's largest active volcano awoke with a mighty, lava-filled yawn late last week. Mount Etna, which looms above one of the largest cities on Italy's island of Sicily and is famed for its fiery eruptions, began belching ash and lava on Thursday evening. According to Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), the volcano has been rocketing blobs of molten rock and ash some 150 metres into the air.

Related: Yellowstone super volcano 'due' for major eruption)

After a long quiet period, during which the volcano emitted only occasional gas and ash, Etna first showed signs of life in mid-July, when volcanologists detected activity within the volcano's craters. The first so-called Strombolian explosions -- characterized by their dazzling lava fountains -- resumed earlier this month, intensifying last week and catching the eye of researchers and onlookers alike.

(See also: Why bombing a volcano won't stop the lava)

Thanks to its location, Etna boasts one of the longest periods of documented history, with observations on the volcano stretching back to 1500 BCE. Currently, more than 3 million people live within 110 km of the volcano; more than one million of those live within 30 km. While producing some spectacular views, the current burst of activity has yet to prompt any evacuations of the adjacent towns. 

Etna is known for coming to life in these short, visible bursts, called "paroxysms", but the volcano has technically been classified as 'erupting' continuously since September 2013. It is considered the second-most active volcano on Earth, after Hawaii's Kilauea.

Sources: Global Volcanism Program | Deutsche Welle | Live Science |

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