It is 3.322 metres Etna covers an (10.922 ft) high, area of 1,190 km² though the height (460 sq mi) with avaries with summit basal eruptions. circumference of 140 km.
The Mediterranean area is a convergent boundary where the Eurasian and African plates move toward one another and collide. These two plates form a subduction zone as the African plate dives under the Eurasian plate. As a result of pressure, friction, and plate material melting in the mantle, earthquakes and volcanoes are common.
- in the north the AeolianIslands’ volcanismprovocated by the meltingof continental crust of theAfrican plate.- in the south Etna’svolcanism due to themagma that comes outfrom the mantle (30 kmdeepness) as thesubduction of the Africanplate causes the crack ofthe continental crust.
The current structure of Mount Etna is the effect of a long and complex eruptive history. The growth of the mountain was occasionally interrupted by major eruptions, leading to the collapse of the summit to form calderas. We can divide Etna’s evolution in 4 phases:First phase:”pre-Etnean”Second phase:“Ancient Etna”Third phase:“Trifoglietto II”Fourth phase:“Mongibello”
Volcanic activity in the Etnean area began around 0.5 million years ago. Its products were mainly submarine lavas and volcaniclastics of tholeiiticcomposition. The famous outcrops of Acicastello and nearby locations contain pillow lavasproduced by this early activity.
This phase of volcanism took place in a vast marine gulf, extending over part of the area occupied by the present Etna. The gulf was filled by sedimentsintermixed with a regional tectonic uplift. Then the suaerial eruptions began .
The various eruptions created a stratovolcano. Today Etna is by farthe largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy and one of the mostactive volcanoes in the world. It is still in an almost constant state ofactivity.
Etna’s vegetation is one of the most various in Sicily.The volcanic eruptions makes fertile the territory and changes very often the landscape.Under 2000 mt there are vineyards,brooms and hazelnut or oak woods.Over about 2000 mt there are Beech and birch woods.In the higher altitude of the mountain there isn’t any vegetation that can survives.
The Etna birch (Betula aetnensis) is very similar to the Northern Europe one, but during the millennia has evolved so that many naturalists consider it an endemic variety of Etna. A typical feature of the birch is the color pinkish-white of the cortex, that tends to epidermaldesquamation in horizontal bands. Theleaf has a bright green color, small in size and serrated edges. The branches are very thin and flexible. Also has strong detoxifying properties and is usedagainst somechronic rheumatic diseas es and against hair loss.
Logging and the pratice of hunting wild causedthe extinction of wolfs,wild boars,deer and roedeer.Despite this,on the volcano,still liveporcupines,foxes, wildcats, martens, rabbits, hares, and among thesmalleranimals,weasels, hedgehogs, dormice, dormouse.Etna’s wildlife also includes snakes, as the viperor the green lizard, and a big variety ofbirds, for example the barn owl and the goldeneagle.
Since ancient times the rich volcanic soils of Mount Etna has allowed people to live on agriculture and livestock. Surprising and varied agricultural landscapes are set among forests and lava flows, forming a mosaic environment of rare beauty. The presence of man on the volcano for thousands of years has left a deep imprint: monumental works of terracing, warehouses,wineries, dot the slopes of the "Mountain". The most common kinds of agriculture in Etna’s territory are vineyards and orchards of olives, hazelnuts, pistacchio and citrus, expecially oranges.