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It was 2009 when a study conducted by the School of Geology of the University of Catania observed something strange off the port of Riposto. A very deep coast suddenly “returned to the surface” with a compact shape, typical of a hill or a mountain, and then collapsed again.

A cone, in short, a real volcano that had always been in front of the beaches where children bathe in the summer. The newspapers immediately relaunched the news, also creating widespread and excessive panic. Over the years, periodically, this news comes back and is reported as “recent”. But it is not recent at all. And maybe it’s not even real news, but just a … fairytale!

Is there a volcano off Riposto?


volcano off riposto02
photo by G Musumeci

Is there really a volcano off Riposto? The question is legitimate because, not far from here, the mega landslide caused by the collapse of Valle del Bove thousands of years ago brought a river of debris to the sea. Therefore it is normal for the deep coast of Riposto to present heaps of volcanic rock material. Won’t they just be debris and not a “new mountain” as declared in 2009?

The volcano identified off Riposto was “a cone with a caldera, a depression formed following the demolition of a large volcanic apparatus – which resembles the Valle del Bove.” the scholars declared “Further south, however, we have identified an elongated dome in an east-west direction, whose western offshoot is located in correspondence with Capo Mulini, Acitrezza and Acicastello. This appears as the product of the magma rising from the underlying mantle, which gave rise to the numerous dikes and volcanic manifestations along Acireale coast “.

The videos taken by the divers actually showed something very similar to what the scholars stated. The Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) carried out further research over the next five years, thus taking that discovery seriously. But the conclusions were different.

Mystery or legend?

“The only element in favour of the thesis is the presence of rocks of volcanic origin in the

volcano off riposto03
photo by G Musumeci

shoal of Riposto” declared the INGV in 2014 “Not enough, however, to say that what was observed belongs to a volcanic system distinct from that of Etna”. Materials that belonged to a volcano, then, but not from a brand new volcano, nor a real volcano waiting to wake up! Perhaps they are materials that date back to a very ancient activity of Etna itself, when it was still submerged. It may be about residues brought there by seismic movements or other changes that have occurred over the centuries.

The fact is that since 2014 many other studies have been conducted on the seabed in that area and no elements have emerged that could lead one to believe that there is a submerged volcano at that point of the coast. So let’s say that “the volcano of Riposto” remains a nice legend, a way to excite the tourists who flock to the beaches of Fondachello and Sant’Anna di Mascali in the summer months. A legend that will probably make a comeback from time to time by selling copies of newspapers … but nothing more than that. Folklore.

But submerged volcanoes do exist

Once the doubt about this “fairytale volcano” is removed, a certainty remains. All around Sicily, there are real submerged volcanoes, and even several of them. So far there are just under twenty of them among the gigantic ones of the Tyrrhenian Sea (Marsili, Vavilov, Magnaghi, Palinuro, Glauco, Eolo, Sisifo Enarete) and those recently discovered off the coast of Agrigento (Actea, Climene, Nesea, Doride, Ianeira , Ianassa) . They add to the Ferdinandea Island, off the coast of Marsala, and to some submerged parts of the Aeolian Islands only apparently “quiet”. So surprises can come at any time and from any point. But apparently, on the Ionian coast, you can still continue sunbathing on the beach without panic

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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