Gorgeous Shots of Mount Etna in Eruption

Over at Rosetta Stones, I’ve got an article up talking about phreatic eruptions and the recent excitement on Etna. I of course had to have a photo to go with it. The glorious problem in selecting said photo is that I run across so many awesome photos that don’t really illustrate the article, but are too good not to share. So it’s my great pleasure to share them with you here. And stay tuned at the end for some awesome video footage of phreatic eruptions and what happens when people get caught in them!

That is some hot lava there. Seriously hot. I mean, it’s not a big eruption, but it’s still enough to turn the entire sky orange…

Image shows the rim of Mount Etna in the distance, with a forested ridge in between. Everything is in silhouette, lit orange by a firey explosion from the center of the crater. Clouds of steam and ash rise into the sky to the right. A few stars are visible in the dark orange sky.
Etna erupting on the night of July 30, 2011. Image courtesy gnuckx (CC BY 2.0)

The craters of active volcanoes are marvelous. Look at those brilliant patches of yellow sulfur all over the place! Look at the shapes and textures! Gorgeous.

Image shows a crater of Mount Etna. In the foreground there is an ash-covered dip, with the summit rising behind it. The scene is in various shades of gray, brown, and black volcanic materials, with splashes of yellow sulfur.
Valle del Bove, Mount Etna. Public domain image by TBC.

I love how this eruption looks all soft and fuzzy and pastel. Still violent, though.

Image shows the summit of Etna with a tall, narrow, gauzy gray eruption column rising from it against the blue sky.
Etna erupting on October 26, 2013. Image courtesy gnuckx (CC BY 2.0)

I am a complete sucker for these night shots. This one is particularly spectacular. Look at that tentacle of fire!

Image shows the black, jagged silhouette of the crater. Inside, clouds of steam and ash rise, lit by orange lava in the crater. One bit of the cloud on the center left is brighter than the rest, and is curled over like a tentacle.
Etna erupting on the night of July 30, 2011. Image courtesy gnuckx (CC BY 2.0)

Gorgeous long-exposure shot of Etna erupting at night. I love how the cloud layer looks like a soft, fluffy blanket over the volcano, and those lovely orange streams of lava leisurely descending the slopes.

Image shows the whole of Etna volcano at night. There is a thin layer of cloud lying over its summit and flanks like a fluffy grayish-white blanket. The summit crater is glowing orange, and a stream of orange lava is streaming down the center of the flank facing us. In the sky, the stars are short streaks of light.
Long exposure image of a “dual-vent” eruption from Mount Etna’s NSEC (New South East Crater). Image and caption courtesy Angelo T. La Spina (CC BY-SA 4.0)

It’s easy to believe why the Greeks came up with stories about a monster trapped under the mountain, and a god using the fire of its struggles as a forge:

And flame shot forth from the thunderstricken lord in the dim rugged glens of the mount when he was smitten. A great part of huge earth was scorched by the terrible vapor and melted as tin melts when heated by men’s art in channelled crucibles; or as iron, which is hardest of all things, is shortened by glowing fire in mountain glens and melts in the divine earth through the strength of Hephaestus. Even so, then, the earth melted in the glow of the blazing fire.

Image shows Etna's crater in eruption at night. Beyond the jagged black silhouette of the rim, a red-orange dome spews bright orange lava from a split through its top and side. Dark orange clouds billow away towards the right.
Etna erupting on the night of July 30, 2011. Image courtesy gnuckx ((CC BY 2.0))

Volcanoes are utterly enchanting. I’m so glad we now have the photographic equipment to do them justice.

I’m also pretty damned excited we’ve got video cameras and time-lapse cameras that can catch events too dangerous for us to film in person. Check out these delicious phreatic eruptions at Poás volcano:

And here’s the ABC report on what happened to the BBC crew. I like the interview they do with one of the women involved.

Very awesome! Terrifying, but awesome.

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Gorgeous Shots of Mount Etna in Eruption