Mount Etna 13th July 2001 Impact

Short Term

  • On the morning of the 13th July 2001, magma pushed up through one of Etna’s vents. This caused the south side of the volcano to bulge and caused a series of earthquakes.
  • Lava bubbled up to the surface in the crater of the volcano, and also at several secondary cones and vents south and east of the main cone. Lava fountaining could be observed from the main cone.
  • Huge plumes of ash poured from the crater. Volcanic bombs flew out of the crater. Lava flows streamed from vents on the south and east of Etna and made their way towards the tourist settlement of Nicolosi
  • These ash plumes, volcanic bombs and lava flows continued for the next 24- yes, 24- days. Luckily, the lava did not reach any major settlements, but it did destroy roads, a cable car, many ski lifts and a scientific research station.


Long Term

  • As the ash fell in the days and weeks following the eruption, it covered many of the vineyards on the slopes of Mount Etna, destroying or damaging the vines.
  • Vineyards are situated on the slopes of the volcano because ash fertilises soil and hence the ground here is good for growing crops due to previous eruptions.
  • This eruption will benefit the soil and farming community in the long term, but equally, can destroy crops and lose profit in the slightly shorter term.
  • Lava flows damaged ski facilities. This meant that expensive repairs had to be carried out before the winter ski season began.
  • In the months after the eruption, there were also warm lava fields on the slopes of Etna, which meant that snow could not settle.
  • This affected the income generated by skiing. Ash fell for several miles around the volcano and covered the city of Catania.
  • It was estimated that to clean up the city would cost over half a million pounds. The actual cost for all of Sicily has been much more than this.
  • The eruption made news all over the world and was widely reported on; this led to people panicking and cancelling their holidays to Sicily and even to mainland Italy as a result, which of course was not very good for the Italian tourist industry.
  • However, the media coverage was not all bad; in the longer term it may have boosted the economy, because every year increased numbers of tourists have visited the country hoping to see another eruption.
  • As tourists spend money, this has been good for the local economy. The eruption has also ‘put Sicily on the map’ and raised awareness of the island as a tourist destination.