Etna may not be a volcano, but a giant geyser

The famous Mount Etna in Sicily can be a giant geyser, not a volcano, as indicated by an unusually large amount of vapor and other volatile substances in its emissions, the scientist claims.

“This volcano is similar in principle to its work on a giant geyser or, in a sense, an exhaust pipe.The role of this pipe is a narrow system of” lavoprovodov “through which millions of tons of hot water and gas rise to the surface of the earth.If it” is blocked “with a relatively dense lava, then the gas emissions stop and the volcano” spits out “this solid cork, and when it is cleared, it throws out mostly gas and steam,” says Carmelo Ferlito of the University of Catania, Italy.

The volcano of Etna is one of the most restless geological objects on Earth – it almost constantly erupts lava, steam and shows other signs of activity, and its muzzle never stays in place and constantly changes its position. According to current estimates of scientists, its position has changed at least three times in the past 40 years, and every year Etna erupts several tens of millions of tons of lava.

Another unusual feature of the main mountain of Sicily is that it emits into the atmosphere a huge amount of dust, steam and various volatile substances, whose mass today is estimated at about 7 million tons. Most geologists believe that this is due to the special chemical composition of the magma in the bowels of Etna and the unusual arrangement of its magmatic chamber.

Ferlito believes that there is a much simpler explanation for both of Etna’s strange traits – in fact, this mountain is not a real volcano but a huge hot spring that pumps millions of tons of water and other volatile elements through itself, most of which leaves the volcano is not through the muzzle, but through numerous cracks on its slopes.

On a similar conclusion he was struck by strangeness in the chemical composition of lava and the emissions of Etna. As the researcher notes, lava samples from the depths of the mountain contain about 3.5% of water, which is a high, but not a record. On the other hand, the volcano itself emits about 1.5 times more water and other volatile substances than basalt and other solid rocks, which is about 10 times greater than theoretical calculations show.

Accordingly, according to such measurements, Etna’s “lava” should consist of 70% water, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and other volatile substances in an intermediate state between the liquid and the gas, and only 30% of its mass falls on solid rocks.

Such an exotic composition of lava, as the scientist observes, is not characteristic for any other volcano, and therefore he had to calculate from zero practically how his behavior changes as he ascends to the surface of the Earth. These calculations showed that Etna is in fact a geyser, the “clogging” of which leads to eruptions of basalt and other rocks.

When this lava rises to a point about 2-3 kilometers from the surface of the Earth, the mixture of rocks and volatile substances is sharply divided and the gas rushes into the atmosphere, moving through the cracks and the main muzzle of Etna. Heavy rocks begin to accumulate inside the “lavoprovodov” and after a while they block the movement of gas, which leads to a sharp increase in pressure in the bowels of the volcano.

At a certain point in time, the gas “kicks out” these stone plugs and pushes the lava to the surface, causing explosive eruptions, which often occur on Etna. Similarly, according to Ferlito, it is possible to explain both the high level of activity of the main volcano of Sicily, and the unusual composition of its emissions.