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Mount Etna

Mount Etna (Αἴτνη (Aítnē) in Classical Greek, ...
 
Mount Etna (Latin: Aetna, Sicilian: Mungibeddu or 'a Muntagna) is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, Italy, close to Messina and Catania. It lies above the convergent plate margin between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate. It is the tallest active volcano in Europe, currently 3,329 m (10,922 ft) high, though this varies with summit eruptions. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 (459 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km. This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius. Only Mount Teide in Tenerife surpasses it in the whole of the European–North-African region.[2] 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, and the forges of Hephaestus were said to also be located underneath it.[3]
 
Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity. The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad Plain of Catania to the south. Due to its history of recent activity and nearby population, Mount Etna has been designated a Decade Volcano by the United Nations.[4] In June 2013, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Etymology

According to Adrian Room’s book Place-names of the World, the name Etna originated from the Phoenician word attuna meaning "furnace" or "chimney". He dismisses the theory that Etna is from the Greek αἴθω (aitho) - meaning "I burn" - through an itacist pronunciation.[6] In Classical Greek, it is called Αἴτνη (Aítnē),[7] a name given also to Catania and the city originally known as Inessa, and in Latin it is called Aetna. Its Arabic names were Ǧabal al-burkān, Ǧabal Aṭma Ṣiqilliyya (greatest mountain/volcano of Sicily) and Ǧabal al-Nār (the Mountain of Fire).[8]
 
It is also known as Mungibeddu in Sicilian and Mongibello or Montebello in Italian (from the Latin mons and the Arabic ğebel - جبل -, both meaning mountain, thus "the twice mountain"[9]). The term is not in common use today, although some older people still call it this. According to another theory the term Mongibello comes from the Latin Mulciber (qui ignem mulcet - who placates the fire), one of the Latin names of the god Vulcan. The people of the Etna sometimes use the jargon term 'a muntagna, simply "the mountain" par excellence. Nowadays, the term Mongibello indicates the mountain's top area of the two central craters encompassing also the craters in the south-east and the north-east of the volcanic cone.

Etymology according to Andrew Room's researches

The main roots posed as etymologies for Αἴτνη are the Phoenician attuna (furnace or chimney) and the Greek αἴθω (aitho, to burn). According to Andrew Room the Phoenician one can give the word Αἴτνη. attuna gives [ˈajtnɛː] with metathesis of the vowel-semivocalic phone [w] and shift of that to the palatal articulation [j]. [θ] in αἴθω would shift to [s] and furthermore the [n] of Αἴτνη would be some form of infix which would occur in an *ainthano form.

History

Geological history

 
Volcanic activity first took place at Etna about half a million years ago, with eruptions occurring beneath the sea off the ancient coastline of Sicily.[10] About 300,000 years ago, volcanism began occurring to the southwest of the summit (centre top of volcano) then, before activity moved towards the present centre 170,000 years ago. Eruptions at this time built up the first major volcanic edifice, forming a stratovolcano in alternating explosive and effusive eruptions. The growth of the mountain was occasionally interrupted by major eruptions, leading to the collapse of the summit to form calderas.
From about 35,000 to 15,000 years ago, Etna experienced some highly explosive eruptions, generating large pyroclastic flows, which left extensive ignimbrite deposits. Ash from these eruptions has been found as far away as Rome, 800 km (497 mi) to the north. Thousands of years ago, the eastern flank of the mountain experienced a catastrophic collapse, generating an enormous landslide in an event similar to that seen in the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The landslide left a large depression in the side of the volcano, known as 'Valle del Bove' (Valley of the Ox). Research published in 2006 suggested this occurred around 8000 years ago, and caused a huge tsunami, which left its mark in several places in the eastern Mediterranean.
 
It may have been the reason the settlement of Atlit Yam (Israel), now below sea level, was suddenly abandoned around that time.[11]The steep walls of the valley have suffered subsequent collapses on numerous occasions. The strata exposed in the valley walls provide an important and easily accessible record of Etna's eruptive history. The most recent collapse event at the summit of Etna is thought to have occurred about 2,000 years ago, forming what is known as the Piano Caldera. This caldera has been almost entirely filled by subsequent lava eruptions, but is still visible as a distinct break in the slope of the mountain near the base of the present-day summit cone.

 

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