Fire on the mountain: Massive volcano Stromboli explodes in biggest eruption since 2007

A series of large explosions have erupted from one of the world's largest volcanoes in Stromboli, which is located on an island off the coast of Italy.

The powerful eruptions from the vents near the mountain's surface ejected "glowing bombs all over the summit area", with columns rising as 3-5 km high, a CNN report said.

The recent eruptions are among the largest ever recorded from the volcanoes in decades. The first explosion was the largest since at least 2007, volcanologist Boris Benhcke with the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said in a tweet.

Firefighters deployed to put out the fires in the area near — much of which erupted in the tiny Italian island of Stromboli — also managed to rescue hikers in distress. They rescued a hiker, and recovered the body of another found along the burning mountain.

Images of social media show the mountain engulfed in a huge plume of smoke, apparent from other islands that were kilometres away.

The volcano in Stromboli is in one of the eight Aeolian Islands that make up the volcanic arc above Sicily, and are a popular tourist destination. It has been in an almost-continuous phase of eruption for decades, according to the CNN report.

The volcano is known as "the lighthouse of the Mediterranean" because of its frequent, bright eruptions at night. The recent eruptions, which began on 3 July, are considerably more severe than normal.

After Stromboli's eruption, the alert level for volcanoes has been raised in Hawaii to yellow — the second highest alert level for any volcano. This also includes the world’s largest active volcano today, the Mauna Loa in Hawaii, which last erupted in 1984. The Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) advised that increased seismic activity had indicated a shift in the "hallow magma storage system" underneath the world’s largest active volcano Mauna Loa. While concerns were raised, researchers also added that an eruption didn't seem imminent.

 Fire on the mountain: Massive volcano Stromboli explodes in biggest eruption since 2007

The explosive eruption at Stromboli as seen from a boat near the island of Panarea. image: Amelia Morris

Scientists are closely monitoring Mauna Loa because of its reputation for "evolving very quickly" and sending lava far and wide, USGS research geophysicist Ingrid Johanson told The Associated Press. "Lava can go from the rift down to the ocean on the west side of Mauna Loa on the order of a couple of hours," Johanson said. "The rate of eruption is just really fast."

Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843. Currently, Mauna Loa is experiencing 50 to 75 earthquakes a week — a steady surge since March, when the change was pronounced. There also appears to be bulging of the ground, suggesting magma has found its way into the volcano's plumbing.

Still, scientists don't think an eruption from Mauna Loa is likely anytime soon, but they're still keeping a close eye — just in case.

with inputs from the Associated Press.

Updated Date: Jul 04, 2019 10:51:57 IST