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Escaping Mount Etna

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Imagine running for your life down a mountain while lava chunks are being hurled at you through the smoke. Sounds like a nightmare, right?

Last month, a BBC news crew got caught up on Mount Etna as it was erupting and went through that exact experience. Rebecca Morelle, a global science correspondent, shared their terrifying experience with the rest of the world through a series of tweets. “Running down a mountain pelted by rocks, dodging burning boulders and boiling steam – not an experience I ever, ever want to repeat,” she wrote. “A reminder of how dangerous and unpredictable volcanoes can be – everyone had a very lucky escape.” The whole team claims that they’re lucky to be alive.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. BBC reports ten people received minor burns and some bruises, but they will be okay. Several crew members and tourists had holes in their coats due to large chunks of boiling magma that were shot onto their backs as they ran. Eventually, guides and rescue teams were able to safely help them to the bottom of the mountain. Andrea Kiss, a tourist who filmed footage of lava moving down the side of the volcano around half an hour before the eruption, told CNN that she knew something had happened when “injured people appeared at the cable car station.” Kiss added that her guide told her the lava was around 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 Fahrenheit).

Mount Etna is located in Sicily, Italy. The eruption, caused from a crater on the southeastern side of the 9,800-foot peak, sent rocks and molten lava some 200 meters into the sky above the city. Scientists were aiming to explore the volcano in order to understand why it had been so unstable recently when it erupted. The so-called “phreatic explosion,” caused by flowing lava coming into contact with snow, happened at an altitude of around 2,900 meters (9,500 feet), causing blistering hot rocks and steam to be thrown violently into the air. Etna is one of the most active volcanoes, making it difficult for scientists and thrill seekers alike to explore its vast landscape. The BBC team that traveled up the mountain was well prepared, but there was no way to prepare for what happened.

Colorado is home to three volcanoes, but none are nearly as dangerous as Mount Etna. Dotsero is located in central Colorado and is 1,300 feet deep and is cut down the middle by Interstate 70. La Garita Caldera is a large volcanic caldera located in the San Juan volcanic field in the San Juan Mountains near the town of Creede. It is west of La Garita, Colorado. The eruption that created the La Garita Caldera is among the largest known volcanic eruptions in Earth’s history. North Table Mountain is a mesa on the eastern flank of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The 6,555-foot (1,998 m) mesa summit is located in North Table Mountain Park, east of downtown Golden.

To watch a video of the team’s intense descent down the mountain, click here.

Photo of Mount Etna erupting via https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2695612

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “Escaping Mount Etna”

  1. Calvin Yocum on April 17th, 2017 12:01 pm

    Wow! What a crazy experience for that crew! Great article.

  2. Jake Werner on April 17th, 2017 12:14 pm

    Cool article! That would be an unreal experience!

  3. Carter Rodny on April 17th, 2017 12:22 pm

    Journey to the center of the Earth anyone?

  4. Whitney Moran on April 17th, 2017 12:54 pm

    This would have been terrifying! Incredible to have the crew living to tell the tale.

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Escaping Mount Etna