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Volcanic Vortex Rings

Why is it in the news?

  • Mount Etna, Europe’s largest volcano, has been emitting rare volcanic vortex rings, a natural phenomenon produced similar to smoke rings.
·  Mount Etna, located on the east coast of Sicily, is one of the largest and most active volcanoes in Europe.

· It has five craters at its summit and over 300 vents along its slopes, making it almost constantly active.


More about the news

  • Volcanic vortex rings, a rare phenomenon, occur when gas, mainly water vapor, is rapidly released through a vent in the crater.
  • Vortex rings are generated when gas is released rapidly through a circular vent in the crater, resulting in circular smoke rings above the volcano.
  • This phenomenon was first observed at Etna and Vesuvius in Italy in 1724 and has been documented at various other volcanoes worldwide.
  • Volcanic vortex rings are produced similarly to how dolphins blow bubble rings, by compressing gas in their mouths and pushing it out with their tongues.
  • The rings can remain in the air for up to 10 minutes but disintegrate quickly if conditions are windy and turbulent.
  • Mount Etna is well known for producing a significant number of vapor rings, with reports of “dozens of gas rings every day” according to some volcanologists.
  • The occurrence of volcanic vortex rings does not necessarily indicate that Etna is about to erupt in a particularly spectacular way.
  • The activity from the new vent producing the rings may slow down due to changes in the conduit’s properties or obstructions.
  • While the phenomenon of volcanic vortex rings is fascinating and often associated with volcanic activity, its occurrence does not always correlate with imminent eruptions.

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