Mount Stromboli is an active volcano on a small island off the north coast of Sicily – one of three active volcanoes in Italy. The volcano itself rises 924 meters above sea level, but it actually rises 2,000 meters from the floor of the ocean. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, erupting almost continuously for the last 2,000 years.
The eruptions of Stromboli are seen best at night, when chunks of lava blasted out of the volcano trace bright red arcs in the sky. In fact, it’s such an iconic type of eruption that geologists have named an entire class of eruptions after Mount Stromboli. Whenever you get a volcano blasting out blobs of hot lava, gas and rocks in arcs from its volcanic vent, that’s a strombolian eruption. This kind of eruption has been seen in volcanoes worldwide.
The largest (recent) eruption on Mount Stromboli happened in 1930, and resulted in the deaths of several people and the destruction of several homes. Large eruptions like this happen every decade or so. With such regular and predictable volcanic activity, tours used to go up the side of Mount Stromboli at night; the best time to see the beautiful arcs of lava. But in 2007 two new craters opened up on the island, and made the volcano less predictable. Tourists have been banned from going up to the summit to watch the volcano.
You might be surprised to know that there are 400 to 750 people living on the island of Stromboli, in the shadow of the volcano.
We have also recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast about Earth, as part of our tour through the Solar System – Episode 51: Earth.