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Do you like volcanoes? Italian volcanoes? If so, it’s not hard to guess the one you’re thinking of: the largest volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world, Mount Etna. And if you have any questions about this famous fulminator, head over to Eruptions, where guest blogger Dr. Boris Behncke of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology examines Etna over the course of three extremely detailed posts. Starting with the volcano’s geological anatomy, Dr. Behncke moves on to its cycles of eruptions, and finally, the impact these common eruptions and lava flows have on the million people who live in Etna’s shadow. Incredibly, despite the volcano’s more-or-less continuous activity, only about a hundred people are estimated to have been directly killed by Etna in the last 27 centuries. Even if Etna has earned its designation as “the friendly volcano”, it’s hard not to be amazed at the raw power of the forces that shape the face of this planet.

Etna Week (Part 1) – Brief Anatomy of an Exceptional Volcano

EruptionsAugust 16, 2010

“In this exceptionally varied volcanic setting, Mount Etna on the island of Sicily is a volcano of superlatives. But what makes Etna really unique is its incredible versatility in terms of eruptive styles, eruption magnitudes, and eruption locations.”

Etna Week (Part 2) – The current dynamics and activity of Etna

EruptionsAugust 18, 2010

“The recent behavior of Etna is characterized by nearly continuous eruptive activity from the summit craters and eruptions from new vents on the flanks at intervals of a few years to decades.”

Etna Week (Part 3) – Etna’s Volcanic Hazards

EruptionsAugust 20, 2010

“During the last century, three deadly incidents are known, in 1929 (two deaths), 1979 (nine deaths), and 1987 (two deaths); in all cases the victims were visitors to the summit crater who were surprised by sudden steam-blast explosions. Amazingly, many people have escaped unscathed during a number of much more violent explosive magmatic eruptions, which, however, always showed a conspicuous buildup for some time before culminating.”