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Etna: volcano is slowly slipping - is a tsunami looming?


Etna kept Sicily busy this year. Researchers are investigating the effects of the recent outbreaks.

Etna kept Sicily busy this year.

Researchers are investigating the effects of the recent outbreaks.

Sicily - In the past year, Mount Etna erupted several times, sometimes spectacularly. * But the volcano's great activity also has other sides besides the obvious ones that need to be considered.

The 3,350 meter high volcano on a sliding slope continues to move towards the sea year after year.

Researchers from Kiel will be investigating the question in the coming weeks as part of their “Hazelnut” expedition with the research ship “Meteor”.

Expedition leader Felix Gross tells the news portal Ntv: "We want to better understand the tsunami potential off Mount Etna *".

The team of 16 researchers started on November 21, 2021 from Emden in the Netherlands towards Sicily.

It has been known for some time that the south-eastern flank of Etna is in motion and slowly slipping into the sea.

"The whole thing just slips down".

Geophysicist Gross from the Center for Ocean and Society at Kiel University believes the most likely reason for this is gravity.

Mount Etna was built on a layer of clay that was exposed to immense pressure.

Etna eruptions: sensor data show movement of the volcano

With the help of sensors, the researchers at the University of Ocean Research in Kiel were able to determine the movement two years ago.

"The slope slides two to three centimeters a year," says geoscientist Morelia Urlaub from Geomar ntv.

Movement over water can be recorded quite easily with satellite data, but underwater research requires acoustic sensors.

"We were able to prove that the flank moves just as fast under water as it does on land," Urlaub told ntv.


The Etna volcano near Catania spews lava.

(Archive photo)

© Davide Anastasi / dpa

Since 2016, five sensors have been measuring the extent to which the flank of the volcano is drifting using such acoustic sensors.

The aim of the upcoming trip is to read out the data using a modem.

The modules should also be serviced.

The main focus of the researchers is on the effects that the increased outbreaks have on this development.

“Are we perhaps also seeing stronger movement on the ocean floor?” Asks Urlaub.

The fact that the sensors are installed during the active phase of Mount Etna is a stroke of luck for Gross.

These give special information about this time.

The sliding Etna: high risk of tsunami or just hot air?

Should smaller blocks slide down the slope from Etna, this would generate smaller waves in the Mediterranean Sea.

Expedition leader Gross told Ntv: “In this case we are talking about two or three meter high tsunamis.

But they are more like a big wind wave and maybe not even noticeable ”.

An accelerated slide would be announced early, "then we would probably see it years in advance".

This acceleration could take place tomorrow as well as in 1000 years.

There is no cause for acute concern.

Since mid-February there have been a particularly large number of small eruptions on Mount Etna in eastern Sicily.

The research team wants to remove sediment cores from the slope in order to obtain information about the seismic activities of the volcano.

So far, the researchers have assumed that the forces exerted by the rising magma on the volcanic flanks play a subordinate role in the observed phenomenon.

Ash is not only a problem for the local people.

The airport in the city of Catania at the foot of the volcano had to temporarily cease operations because the runways were dirty.


* is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

List of rubric lists: © Davide Anastasi / dpa

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2021-11-25

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