The Curious Case Of The Sinking Volcano

Tsunamis and volcanoes are catastrophic natural disasters, and there is a volcano in Italy that is a tsunami threat to Scicillian coastline for one very weird reason. The volcano isn’t erupting; in fact, a part of it is sinking. Why is this a problem?

Mount Etna Is Falling

Mount Etna lies near the Sicilian coastline. This mountain was created by the slow and steady oozings of lava over millions of years from the volcano that lies in the center of it. Although it has shown no signs of an imminent eruption, Mount Etna has scientists and people who live nearby extremely worried.

Since the 1980s, there has been consistent data recorded to prove that a huge chunk of the eastern side of the Mountain is falling apart.

How Bad Is It?

This has the potential to be a catastrophic event, so there are multiple groups of scientists keeping an eye on things. One group says that a humongous chunk of the mountain has been moving as much as two inches every year.

Another group has data to show that the entire mountain, not just a chunk of it, has been sinking into the seafloor by a little less than 15 millimeters a year. Both groups have noted that although the rogue chunk of the mountain as a whole is moving by a few inches a year, there are portions of the chunk that moved several inches in the course of a month.

What Is Happening?

Mountains are symbols of stability, so what is making this one move? At first, scientists hypothesized that it was due to the magma bubbling on the inside of the mountain. Magma is very hot, corrosive, and destructive. It was hypothesized that magma explosions inside the volcano were to blame for sudden movements on the outside of it.

That theory has been disproven, and now scientists think that the culprit for the curious case of the sinking mountain is simply gravity. The eastern portion of the mountain has begun to separate, and gravity is just continuing the process. Since the mountain is extremely heavy, there is potential for it to suddenly drop even further down or to break off completely.

Why Is This Dangerous?

The portion of Mount Etna that is most in danger of breaking off or dropping suddenly is already completely underwater, but any sudden movement of something as large as a chunk of a mountain can have a widespread effect. Have you ever put two cups together and then separated them underwater? If you have, you know that it causes a very loud noise and a huge bubble.

The underwater separation of Mount Etna will cause humongous waves to go radiating through the Ionian Sea. This could cause life-threatening, humongous tsunamis on the Scillian coastlines. We often think of tsunamis as being caused by earthquakes, but this monster of a tsunami could be caused by a portion of the Earth breaking apart. Scientists will be keeping an extremely close eye on Mount Etna.