A cloud of ash from the 1992 eruption of Mount Etna
R. Maugeri

Figuring Out What is Inside a Volcano
News story originally written on February 14, 2003

Scientists had to figure out what Mount Etna, a volcano, was like on the inside to understand when it would erupt with hot lava flowing out its top. On the inside of any active volcano are pools of hot molten rock. Scientists have now discovered where the pools are beneath Mount Etna, so they can figure out when it might erupt in the future.

Mount Etna is the largest volcano in Europe. It is on the island of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. The volcano did not erupt at all during the last 10 years, but now hot red lava is flowing from it once again! It has erupted many times in the last few months.

Scientists figured out what was going on beneath Mount Etna by studying earthquakes that happened near the volcano. As the earthquakes would shake the ground, they would also crack apart rocks that are deep underground. Hot molten rock moved up through the cracks to make underground pools inside the volcano. The molten rock moving up into the pools caused Mount Etna to erupt for the last few months and it could cause more volcanic eruptions in the future too.

Last modified February 24, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.

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