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Is Mount Etna actually a hot spring rather than a volcano?

For years, Mount Etna has been classified as an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily. But now, one scientist is exploring the idea that Mount Etna may not actually be a volcano, but instead a large, volatile hot spring. Professor Carmelo Ferlito at the University of Catania has developed a study to examine how the volcano is fueled.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. It produces up to 70 million tons of lava each year, as well as 7 million tons of steam, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.

Professor Ferlito is challenging the status of Mount Etna due to the fact that it does not spew enough lava to be classified as a full-blown volcano. He says that if the gases are ejected as a result of magma rising to the surface, the volcano should be producing ten times as much lava.

Some experts believe that the lava attempts to escape during the gas emissions, but ultimately retreats back into the volcano. Professor Felito argues that this is simply not the case, as it would “inflate the volcano like a children’s balloon.”

The results of his study indicate that the volcano does not contain magma at all, but that it is simply filled with large amounts of water, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. Professor Felito says that only 30 percent of Mount Etna is molten rock.

A growing collection of research supports the idea that there is a huge amount of water in the Earth’s mantle. Professor Ferlito explains that this water may actually be the source of the eruptions.

The study is published in the journal Earth-Science Reviews.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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