After six months of activity, Mount Etna's southeastern crater has risen in height. According to Italy's volcano monitoring agency, this makes it Europe's tallest active volcano in the present time.

According to the National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV), the youngest and most active crater of the renowned volcano has climbed to a new record of 3,357 meters (11,000 feet about twice the elevation of Denver, Colorado) above sea level.

"Thanks to the analysis and processing of satellite images, the southeast crater is now much higher than its 'older brother', the northeast crater, for 40 years the undisputed peak of Etna," according to the Press release written by the INGV.

Mt. Etna, The Tallest Active Volcano

Mt. Etna
(Photo : Photo from wikimedia.org)

Mount Etna, which is located on the east coast of the Italian province of Sicily, is Europe's most active volcano and one of the world's largest continental volcanoes in Italy. Mount Etna has a wide base (or shield) that spans 60 by 40 kilometers (36 by 24 miles), and 400 meters (1,200 feet). This stratovolcano is formed by the coalescence of numerous vents.

Most of its surface is covered with ancient lava flows that date back 300,000 years. According to scientists, Mount Etna started as an undersea volcano that eventually climbed above sea level, through layers of hardened lava.

This volcano has the longest known history of eruptions of any volcano known on the planet, going back to 1500 B.C. The volcano has erupted around two hundred times since then, and it has been particularly active in recent decades.

Mount Etna had sixteen eruptive occurrences by the time a new wave of activity began on July 13, 2001, making it a highly active year. The eruptions were followed by earthquakes and the exposure of at least five vents, which spewed thick lava flows and massive columns of ash, steam, and smoke. Officials were keeping a careful eye on the lava as it moved closer to the cities near it.

In mid-February 2021 there have been 50 outbursts of ash and lava spewing from Mount Etna's crater that transformed the volcanos crater that can be seen in satellite images.

Also read: USGS Monitoring Fresh Volcanic Activity in 6 Volcanoes Across US

Mount Etna's Ashes

The crater has been pouring smoke and ashes onto the neighboring villages since February, posing a minor concern to the citizens. In the surrounding communities, the ash has been a nuisance, polluting the streets, causing traffic delays, and causing crop damage in farms.

According to the administration of Sicily, 300,000 metric tons of ash were removed in July.

Tania Cannizzaro, a retiree in Catania, a two-hour drive from Mount Etna, told AFP that the volcano was both beautiful and annoying, with ash pouring "like rain" at times.

"The rumblings of the volcano reach Catania depending on the wind and make the windows shake," Tania Cannizzaro said, adding that the ash turns the streets and balconies pitch black.

Also read: Even Minor Volcanic Eruptions Could 'Lead to Global Catastrophe,' New Research Says