Watch Mount Etna Erupt! Active Volcano in Sicily Spews Lava (Video)

First Posted: Feb 21, 2013 11:52 AM EST

Early on Tuesday, Mount Etna sent lava and gas shooting into the air in a spectacular display that was caught on camera. The eruption is the first one for 2013, but will no doubt be followed by others.

The volcano itself is located in Sicily. Known as one of the world's most active volcanoes, Mount Etna has been erupting for the past half a million years. The first one is estimated to have occurred in 1500 BCE, and dormant periods for the volcano are very rare.

Mount Etna is what is known as a strato volcano, which is a volcano that opens downward to a pool of molten rock below the surface of the Earth. As pressure builds, eruptions occur where gases and molten rock shoot up through the opening and into the air.

In previous eruptions in 2011, Mount Etna's violent bursts could be spotted from as far away as space. It's been known to spew lava shooting as high as 4,500 feet into the air. Standing nearly 11,000 feet high by itself, the sight is certainly spectacular to behold. This latest eruption was heralded by lava and strong flashes in the volcano's New Southeast Crater on Jan. 22.

Klaus Dorschfeldt, a videographer and webmaster at Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology who captured the latest eruption, said in an interview with Discovery News, "Following it constantly, learn to be a keen observer and a minor change can lead to something important." He's tracked the volcano and its eruptions for many years.

Despite the volcano's active nature, though, nearly a quarter of Sicily's population lives in close proximity to Mount Etna. In fact, residents on the island's second largest city Catania weren't even issued danger warnings by volcanologists before the eruption, and airports didn't even close, according to DailyMail. In order to combat the frequent eruptions, ditches have been dug around the base of the volcano in order to divert potential lava flows and protect communities.

Want to see the video that was filmed of the latest eruption? Check it out below or here.

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