Petrounias for Etna: Possible landslide that would cause a tsunami in the Ionian and Mediterranean

The Doctor Researcher of Geology, University of Patras, specializing in magmatology, analyzes the effects of the eruptions of Mount Etna for Greece and the climate and analyzes the possibility of a … Armageddon

The Etna is located on the eastern coast of Sicily in Italy and is now the largest active volcano in Europe . Its volcanic activity began 500,000 years ago with underwater eruptions in the Gela-Catania sinking basin. The volcano in June 2013 was included in the Unesco World Heritage Sites.

  1. How “innocent” is Mount Etna and how predictable?
  2. How likely is it that the huge crater that rises to 3,300 meters above sea level will fall?
  3. How much would an explosion with violent geological effects affect the Mediterranean?
  4. Is it possible to cause a tsunami in the Mediterranean and if “yes” how devastating will be the consequences for the coasts of Greece just opposite the east?
  5. How much do the eruptions of Mount Etna affect the microclimate in the Ionian, in Greece and in the Mediterranean in general?

These are some of the questions that were asked to answer at by the Geologist Doctor Researcher of the University of Patras, specializing in magatology Petros Petrounias .

“Affects the Ionian”

“Etna is characterized by the almost continuous explosive activity of its central crater as well as by frequent venous eruptions. It is a complex basaltic volcano of the Quaternary where it is located in an area of ​​complex geodynamic evolution. “Geodynamically, the explosive eruptions of the magmatic chamber are likely to be related to and possibly weakly affect the Ionian geodynamic field as it is located in front of the Apennines and in the NW-NNA of the Maltese moat where it is essentially connected to the Ionian basin to the east.” , says Petros Petrounias in a first general position.

Stromboli is more dangerous

Although historically significant eruptions of Mount Etna have been recorded as extremely catastrophic, as Petros Petrounias says, “it is generally not considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes as they are located on the world map, resulting in thousands of inhabitants living on the slopes of the volcano and surrounding areas.” as a result of the existence of a highly fertile soil capable of being used in various agricultural uses. Italian geologists, who monitor the neighboring volcanoes with continuous monitoring and geodetic measurements, consider Stromboli as the most dangerous volcano . It is located opposite Mount Etna, in the Aeolian Islands and a few years ago invited the death of a tourist “.

For now we are heading for a recession

Asked if a huge explosion is possible based on the data recorded by the scientific community, Petros Petrounias emphasizes that according to the observations that are made, we are probably heading for a recession until the next explosion, when no one can predict when it will happen: ” Based on continuous monitoring, geodetic measurements and the study of the motion of the magma chamber that hosts the magma, the volcano of Mount Etna does not immediately present the risk of a strong eruption of the volcano capable of creating significant problems in the wider region and the wider Mediterranean. The most probable scenario is that in the next few days the explosive activity in the Southeastern crater and the magmatic lava flows will be completed, mainly in the Valle del Bove to cool creating on the surface these amorphous and semi-crystalline igneous rocks where they are located on its slopes. The explosive activity in the other craters remains and will remain active for several days but with small and sporadic explosive phenomena which will be locally accompanied by the emission of ash. The monitoring has focused mainly on the craters Bocca Nuova and Voragine, which still seem to show strong dynamics, but with a tendency to reduce the phenomenon “.

The movement of 14 mm

Regarding the possibility that the scenario could happen in a short period of time, a big explosion that would cause the collapse of the eastern side of the crater, creating a huge precipitation and consequently a tsunami heading towards the coast of western Greece, said: “Fellow geological researchers of Mount Etna by studying the precision deviation meters but also the geodetic measurements, where they constantly observe, have detected a movement of up to 14 millimetersper year with direction to the Southeast. Such a phenomenon concerns the geological community much more than magmatic explosions as it is more dangerous. In general, the explosive activity of a volcano and its general active action is much easier to predict against other natural phenomena such as earthquakes, etc., as such an action carries a number of precursor phenomena that accompany the upward course of magma.

“Strong concern of a large landslide”

For the concern there is about this movement and if it is likely to cause collapse of the crater and tsunami in the Mediterranean said: “This movement creates strong concern regarding the genesis of a major landslide able to cause that each is a gravitational wave which is called as a tsunami in the Mediterranean . “The general trend is that Mount Etna is slowly and gradually moving in the direction of the Ionian at a rate of 14 millimeters per year, something that with its current magmatic activation is likely to increase.”

This will cause a tsunami

As for the movement of the volcano to the east, it is the main “detail” that makes it dangerous for the whole Mediterranean as the east side is close to the coastline: “Essentially if a part of Mount Etna becomes more unstable near the coastline and eventually sliding in the Mediterranean will be possible to give birth to a large gravitational wave (tsunami) which will hit even without significant warning the Mediterranean and certainly our coasts. This can happen as the constant movement in the form of creep as it is located in combination with the number of cracks where there are in the area can contribute to the generation of a strong gravitational wave (tsunami) just as has been done in other volcanoes with similar structural characteristics.
Our country is ready to face such a natural disaster. Petros Petrounias said: “Our country has the means to control and warn of such a phenomenon where it is constantly and perfectly controlled by the OASP, however the big question you raise is whether the infrastructure as a country is capable of withstanding even a moderately gravitational wave phenomenon from the neighboring country “.

They affect the microclimate in Greece

In addition to the possibility of a tsunami, the eruptions of Aida affect the microclimate of many areas such as Greece and the Mediterranean in general: as they have an indirect effect on ozone depletion because volcanic hydrogen chloride (HCL) appears to destroy available ozone, as has been found in a number of other ozone depletion 20%. Ozone depletion has the immediate effect of reducing protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, creating a host of environmental problems. However, the effects of such a volcanic eruption can be strong but short in duration as the volcanic particles, which are essentially tiny crystals, but also the aerosols act as catalysts providing essentially the necessary specific surface on which the reactions will take place. chlorofluorocarbons with ozone and eventually settle over time “.

Sulfur drops the temperature

An important role is also played by the increased release of sulfur gases as detected to exist: “Indeed, sulfur combines with water vapor in the stratosphere which produce dense clouds of small sulfuric acid droplets which may require some time to settle and is capable of significantly reduce ambient temperature because they absorb solar radiation and partially reflect it into space . A similar phenomenon was observed during the eruption of El Chichon volcano, resulting in a drop in temperature of 0.3-0.5 0C worldwide.   

Diodorus informs us of an explosion


The first recorded eruption of Mount Etna is described by Diodorus (August 24, 79 AD) during which it was covered with ashes up to Rome while amorphous and semi-crystalline rock bodies were ejected at great distances from the source. The complex geological history and tectonic morphology of Mount Etna have given rise to a large number of researchers to create various models of genesis and interpretation of the special features of this highly active basaltic volcano which is located in front of an active thrust zone, such as that of the mountain range. Apennines in Sicily.

To teach our children geology

In closing, Petros Petrounias points out the need to strengthen geological education in the next generations and explains: Our country is one of the most seismic regions in Europe and natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, landslides) are very common, causing adverse effects on nature and human activities, often with loss of human life, making it imperative to prepare. and training through the educational process. To achieve this goalIt is considered necessary to upgrade geological education in primary, secondary education in combination with coordinated geoeducation actions to the general public . In addition, it is necessary to increase the provision of resources and infrastructure in higher education in order to fully develop these vital Departments which for a number of years do not receive the necessary resources to be competitive in the International Academic Community.


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