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Italy. Etna. Rings over the volcano. How does this phenomenon arise?

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Etna began to release smoke rings. As volcanologists explain, this phenomenon occurs in precisely defined conditions, and the Sicilian volcano emits the most of them in the world. The last major eruption there occurred in December last year.

A volcanic sinkhole has appeared in the Bocca Nuova region, one of Etna's four summit craters. It is characterized by a regular, round shape, which favors the formation of one of the most spectacular volcanic phenomena – rings made of volcanic gases and dust.

Rings in the sky

Giuseppe Barbagallo, a guide on Etna, explained in an interview with the Reuters news agency that the sinkhole formed a few days ago.

– The last large eruption took place on December 1, 2023 – he said. – The new crater (…) has a perfectly circular outlet, so rings of volcanic ash come out of it. We don't see something like this every day.

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Etna's volcanic dust ringsReuters

How are rings made?

Dust rings, also called smoke rings, are formed when lava bubbles erupt high above the magma chamber, in one of the tunnels connecting it to the Earth's surface. The force of the explosion ejects a column of gas and dust at great speed, but contact with the tunnel walls slows down the outer part. A swirling motion is created, thanks to which the dust “wraps” around itself, creating a characteristic ring.

Although the phenomenon has been observed over many volcanoes, Etna produces the most volcanoes in the world. For this reason, the Sicilian volcano is sometimes called “The Lord of the Rings”.

Main photo source: Reuters



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