Case Study: Mount Etna, 1991-93

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  • Mount Etna, 1991-93
    • About
      • Documented eruptions go back to 1500BC
      • Towers over Catania
      • Above the convergent margin between African and Eurasian plate
    • Prediction
      • INGV measure radon gas to detect lava movement
      • GPS used to see changes in volcano shape
      • Seismometer readings used to measure tremors
    • Cause
      • Response from the volcano to variations in rising magma
      • Changes in structural stability caused by tectonic movement
    • Short-term responses
      • 1992: Italian authorities built an earth barrier
        • Over 400m long, 20m high
        • Built to stop lava reaching Zafferana
        • Contained lava for a month before overflow
      • Explosives used to blast hole in lava tube + Concrete blocks dropped to slow lava via helicopters
      • Diversion channel dug + eplosives used to divert lava to adjacent flank
      • Lava stopped 850m from Zafferana
    • Long-term responses
      • INGV continued to monitor Radon gas, GPS, seismometers
      • Police, fire brigade, cival defence, geologists, volcanologist, Army, Red cross called in
    • Impacts
      • No deaths
      • Homes / farms lost
      • Springs providing water to Zafferana (8000 people) contaminated
      • No fear of future eruptions as diversion channel in place
      • Insurance claims
      • Vineyards and chestnut orchards destroyed


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