Volcanic Vortex Rings

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Overview:

Mount Etna volcano has been sending up almost perfect rings of smoke into the air which are a rare phenomenon that scientists refer to as volcanic vortex rings.

About Volcanic Vortex Rings

  • Vortex rings are generated when gas, predominantly water vapour, is released rapidly through a vent in the crater.
  • The rings can remain in the air for up to 10 minutes, but tend to disintegrate quickly if conditions are windy and turbulent.
  • This phenomenon was first observed at Etna and Vesuvius in Italy in 1724.
  • In more recent times, volcanic vortex rings have been observed at volcanoes such as

o Redoubt in Alaska, Tungurahua in Ecuador, Pacaya in Guatemala, Eyjafjallajökull and Hekla in Iceland, Stromboli in Italy, Aso and Sakurajima in Japan, Yasur in Vanuatu, Whakaari in New Zealand, and Momotombo in Nicaragua.

Key facts about Mount Etna

  • It is sometimes referred to simply as Etna, is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Etna’s peak is the highest in Italy south of the Alps, and it is Europe’s largest and one of the most active volcanoes.
  • Etna’s summit has five craters, which are responsible for most of the volcano’s eruptions; there are also “flank” eruptions that occur out of 300-odd vents of varying sizes along the slopes of the mountain.
  • It is in almost constant activity, and has seen, since the year 1600, at least 60 flank eruptions and many more summit eruptions.

It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013.


Q1: What are Volcanoes?

These are openings, or vents where lava, tephra (small rocks), and steam erupt onto the Earth's surface. Volcanoes can be on land and in the ocean. They are, in part, a result of their own eruptions but also the general formation of our planet, as tectonic plates move.

Source: A Sicilian volcano is blowing smoke rings in the sky. What are volcanic vortex rings?