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Mount Etna prepares a new eruption and does so in style, drawing the world’s attention to itself. It does this by emitting a “feast” of gas rings that, depending on the daylight and evening light, take on particular colors and brightness. In the photos accompanying this article – kindly provided by the photographer Marisa Liotta from Bronte – you can notice many small “celestial jellyfish” which are nothing but the phenomenon of rapidly increasing gas rings.

No “chemtrails” or other fairy tales

Those who are not used to these phenomena tend to think of something anomalous. It’s not uncommon to hear people talk about “chemtrails” and other superstitious tales when they notice something new in the sky. But just think that volcanoes are the greatest producers of “phenomena” in the world to understand that what we see, on Etna or elsewhere, even when it seems weird or crazy to us… it really isn’t weird at all.

gas rings etnaGas rings, a (not so) rare phenomenon…

Gas rings form when volcanic gas escapes with great force from circular crater rims or collapse holes in the ground. By quickly traveling along the walls of the hole, when the gas is expelled it continues to rotate for meters and metres, and if the wind at high altitude is not too strong it will maintain its circular shape even in the sky.

Usually this is a “rare” volcanic phenomenon, but Etna also amazes by overturning the rules. And not only has it been producing gas rings for months now… but in recent weeks it has been expelling dozens of them every hour, creating this kind of show at dawn and dusk. The growth in the number of rings is probably linked to the increase in gas pressure, also highlighted by the volcanic tremor in the medium-high position. For now it’s a visual spectacle. But tomorrow?

A new eruption coming soon?

These “smoke codes” can certainly be a sign of an oncoming eruption, even if there is no absolute certainty. Etna often prepares the ground for spectacular events which then suddenly transform into simple outgassing or which finally calm down definitively without following the lava fountains. Other times, however, spectacular paroxysms are anticipated precisely with degassing. All that remains is to wait and in the meantime enjoy these “alien visions” which should not be scary at all. (PHOTOS BY MARISA LIOTTA)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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