Volcano Tourism and its Influence on the Territory of Mt Etna (Italy) – Explored with Digressions to Stromboli (Italy)
Summary of important geographic and volcanic characteristics Mt Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. Due to its natural characteristics and frequent volcanic activity, it is one of the most famous volcanoes in the world. With a surface area of about 1200km2 and a present summit height of aproximately 3310m Mt Etna is located in the eastern part of the island of Sicily (Italy), 25km north of the city of Catania. Placed at the southern edge of the Eurasian Plate, close to the collision zone with the African Plate, in a complex geodynamic setting, Etna is composed of overlapping products of different phases. Its historical volcanic origin began about 0.5 million years ago with small volume volcanism. About 0.2 million years ago the volcanism became more energetic resulting in the development of a series of overlapping central volcanoes (Behnke and Struck, 2005; Branca et al, 2004). The volcano as
we know it today has grown during the past 15,000 years, following a series of explosive eruptions that blew off the previous deposits and led to the collapse of a vast summit caldera (Behnke and Struck, 2005). During the past 15,000 years the volcanic character has been mildly explosive with voluminous lava ejections from the summit craters and flanks, discontinuously interrupted by more strongly explosive but shortlived eruptive episodes at the summit (Behnke and Struck, 2005; Coltelli et al, 2004). Volcanic products formed in explosive eruptions like ash, scoria and volcanic bombs appear in a comparatively small quantity. Only a few volcanoes of the world share this quality and have a low explosive index at the same time. This combination of qualities has supported the development of volcano tourism at Mt Etna and underpins its importance to the study of volcanism.