Two volcanic eruptions covered the sky in both Italy and Nicaragua this week. Etna erupted for the first time in two years and Momotombo for the first time in a century.
Mount Etna, the most active volcano of Europe, erupted on Wednesday morning, spewing large amounts of lava and ash high into the atmosphere. The eruption was violent – the most violent in the last two decades – but short, lasting less than an hour. No injuries have been reported.
Etna is located on the eastern coast of Sicily, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and besides being the most active in Europe it is also considered one of the most active in the world.
Being also the tallest in Europe, with a height of 3,329m, Etna has been active in the past 2.5 million years.
One of the most violent eruptions has been documented in Roman times, in 122 BC. Historical records talk about huge damages, with the sun being blocked for days. The eruption was so devastating that the emperor has cancelled taxes for 10 years after, to help the community recover.
Nowadays the eruptions are safer for people living nearby, since many dams and ditches have been built to divert the lava to controlled places. People also benefit from the fertile volcanic soils, which support agriculture, making it possible for locals to plant vineyards and orchards.
In June 2013, Mount Etna has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Etna erupts when the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collide, bringing to the surface magma made out of molten rock, forming lava and ash. With each eruption, the mount gets taller.
This last eruption has covered many villages under a thick layer of ash and made the authorities to close the nearby airport. The eruption has been visible from space while it was reaching altitudes of above 10,000 feet.
The second volcano erupting this week was Momotombo in León, Nicaragua. It was the first eruption in the last 110 years, spewing lava, gas and ash 1 kilometer above. The event lasted a whole night and 6 communities around the volcano had to close the schools as a precaution the next day.
However, Momotombo’s eruption wasn’t quite a surprise, since locals start feeling tremors and steam plumes coming from the awaking volcano since a few weeks ago. A fountain of lava came out of it on Monday night, covering the sky with a thick cloud of ash.
Until its last eruption, in 1905, Momotombo has been Nicaragua’s most active volcano, erupting for 10 times in just 15 years. However, the most violent eruption was documented in 1605, when it has destroyed the city Leon Viejo, which was the capital at that time.
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