Temperamental and mystical are the perfect words to describe these marvelous volcanoes. Beautiful to look at, but feisty and scary when they explode.
Volcanoes are made of rifts in the Earth’s crust that is caused by movements of tectonic plates. They are either diverging, when the crust and the upper mantle are moving away from each other; or converging— when they are colliding against or beneath the other. Did you know that it generally takes 10,000 to 500,000 years by thousands of eruptions and layers of lava before a giant volcano is made?
Italy has the only active volcanoes in mainland Europe. Thanks to the mineral-rich soil that comes from the volcano’s eruption, many vineyards thrive near the volcanoes there. Maybe it’s the secret for making perfect wines, eh?
Here are five volcanoes you must know it Italy.
It is located in the city of Naples, in Campania, Italy. It said that that Romans devoted the volcano to Hercules. You know, the handsome chiseled god of strength? It is said that he found a place called “The Phlegaean Plain” from a place that “vomited out fire”. It was inhabited by giants and with the help of the gods, he pacified the region and went on to his adventures.
The birth of the Vesuvius volcanic complex dates back to over 400,000 years ago (dating carried out on the oldest submarine volcanic deposits collected with deep perforations), although the most certain information concerns only the last 25,000 years. Mount Vesuvius was formed when the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided.
The eruptions of the volcano varies but on one instance, the explosion has been so grave that the whole Southern Italy was blanketed by ash fall. Once, the ash also reached Istanbul which is 1,200 km away from it. Since 1750, seven of the eruptions of Vesuvius have had durations of more than 5 years.
Despite being an active volcano, the area around it was made a national park in 1995. There are networks of paths around the volcano which is maintained weekly by park authorities.
Etna is located in Sicily and is the highest active volcano on the Eurasian plate. It stands at 3,326 meters above sea level. In 2016, It was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites because it is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Because of its almost constant state of activity, the volcanic soils make the nearby vineyards and orchards very fertile.
In Greek mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under this mountain by Zeus— the god of the sky and thunder and king of gods. The forges of Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths, were also said to be underneath it.
Despite its active status, Mount Etna remains to be a tourist attraction in Sicily. Thousand of visitors revel in its beauty with two ski resorts—the Sapienza Refuge and the Piano Provenzana and a narrow gauge railway which is the Ferrovia Circumetnea.
When Ischia’s Volcano activity begun is not known precisely, but the most ancient outcropping rocks testify to the existence of an ancient and complex volcanic apparatus, on which the products of a series of both effusive eruptions are superimposed (with the creation of lava domes and subordinate flows) and explosive, which occurred between 150,000 and 74,000 years ago.
Standing at the top of Mount Epomeo, 788 meters above sea level, is a bar and restaurant called “La Grotta da Fiore”. After your one to two-hour hike (depending on your fitness level) to the summit, take a break and appreciate the delightful view of the island and the bay surrounding it.
Volcanic Island of Pantellaria
The island of Pantelleria is the emerged part of an active volcano that rises more than 1000 meters from the seabed in the Sicilian Channel. The island has an area of 83 square kilometers. Pantelleria is quite famous for its peralkaline volcanism and its geological evolution and eruptive dynamics.
Holocene eruptions have constructed pumice cones, lava domes, and short, blocky lava flows. Many Holocene vents are located on three sides of the Montagna Grande block on the South East side of the island. A submarine eruption in 1891 from a vent 4 km off the North West coast is the only confirmed historical activity.
Stromboli is an active volcano that is part of the Aeolian arc, located on the island of Stromboli, and is one of the three active volcanoes in Italy. The volcano has erupted many times with constant minor eruptions, often visible from many points on the island and from the surrounding sea. This activity gave the island its nickname, “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean”.
The island’s area is 12 square kilometers and the peak of the volcano is at 926 meters above sea level. Regardless of the volcano’s activity, the population was recorded at about 500 as of 2016.
Tourists even have a unique chance to watch the eruptions happen. From the rim of an older crater, you can stand only 150-250 meters almost directly above the active craters! Of course, there is a risk of being involved in an accident if a big explosion suddenly happens but according to locals, it is extremely small.
The explosions of the volcanoes may be seen as a havoc or disruption. It is sometimes true especially when lives are taken, but it also means a promise of a new beginning. Like the new layer added onto the top of the volcano, it becomes bigger and more prominent every time it happens. Add to that the minerals coming from underneath the crust that our soils don’t have. It is just a matter of how you look at the things that are happening around us. A glass half empty or a glass half full? Until then, Vivi la vita al Massimo!