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/english_geolo.jpg (10346 byte)Geology
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/english_etna-geo.jpg (16826 byte)In the Ionian part of Sicily, the huge gulf that stretched between the Peloritan and Hyblaean mountain ranges was filled by the first submarine eruptions which gave rise to Mt. Etna and, in part, by the accumulation of alluvial deposits in the Simeto River which led to the formation of the Plain of Catania. It was in this gulf, about half a million years ago, that the first eruptions occurred, evidence of which still exists in the area of Aci Castello, Aci Trezza and Ficarazzi. Mt. Etna, with its lithological boundary at a distance of 250 Km and a surface area of about 1260 square kilometres, is the largest volcano in Europe; the highest craters are at an altitude of about 3,350 metres, but the height of the volcano varies a great deal in time as the explosive activity is not always of the "constructive" type: it may at times be "destructive", i.e. causing the walls of the craters to collapse and subside.

On the eastern side the volcano exhibits a large depression /english_etna04.jpg (24913 byte)called the "Valle del Bove", a large incision measuring about 7 by 5 Km with slopes reaching heights of 1,000 metres. The valley seems to have originated from the collapse of parts of ancient volcanic edifices due to explosive events. Most of the lava flows that occur on Etna are made up of scoriaceous blocks and fragments, with a rough, jagged surface (lava called "aa"); in other, less frequent, instances, the lava has a smoother, often billowy surface, forming large slabs of coiled, ropelike masses ("pahoehoe" lava). A frequent occurrence in the latter kind of lava flow is the formation of a system of outflows enclosed by a sheath of cold, solidified lava; towards the end of an eruptive event these channels empty out, creating caves and tunnels. The duration of eruptions from the mouths of the volcano varies greatly, from a few hours to months or even years. The length, breadth and extent of lava flows essentially depends on the duration and extent of the eruption, as well as other factors linked to the morphology of the soil over which they flow.


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Provincial Tourism Board of Catania
E-mail : [email protected]

Tourist information offices
Catania : D. Cimarosa, 10 - 95124 - Tel. +39 95 7306211
Catania : Stazione Centrale FF.SS. - 95129 - Tel. +39 95 7306255
Catania : Aeroporto Civile Fontanarossa - 95121 - Tel. +39 95 7306266