Mount Etna has erupted in Sicily sending plumes of dense ash and spewing lava fountains into the sky.
Volcanic activity was first detected from the southeast crater shortly before 9:30pm local time on Sunday night. The eruption lasted through Monday morning, with a dense ash plume some three miles high and lava fountains rising more than 325 feet into the air, according to the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) in Toulouse, France.
Volcanic ash covered parts of small villages between Pedara and Tremestieri Etneo in Catania, Sicily.
On Monday morning, workers in villages in Catania cleared black ash from cars, streets and homes.
Experts classified the eruption as Strombolian activity, a moderate eruption with continuous but relatively mild blasts and a shower of incandescent cinders, rocks and lava fragments.
The most extreme form of volcanic activity, Plinian eruptions, are characterized by explosive outbursts generating a dense mixture of gas and volcanic fragments that move at tremendous speed.
A Plinian eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD buried Pompeii and Herculaneum under a blanket of ash.
At nearly 11,000 feet tall and 24 miles wide, Etna is the largest volcano in Europe.
The 700,000-year-old volcano is also the second most active on Earth, after Hawaii’s Mount Kilauea.
Situated between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, it generates nearly constant eruptions of varying degrees.
Each year it produces more than tens of million tons of lava and over 7 million tons of carbon dioxide, water and sulfur dioxide.
It’s most severe recent eruption occurred in March of 2017, when nearly a dozen people were injured.