This course explores the many aspects of volcanism on Earth, from the formation of magma below or within the crust to its eruption at the surface, focusing on the volcanism of Mt. Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world and a perfect natural laboratory thanks to its peculiar characteristics. The different types of eruptive styles of volcanoes will be described and explained within their geological and tectonic contexts, with an additional focus on their impact on the local ecosystem and on human activities in the region, through multiple case studies and in-class discussions. A geological excursion to the Aeolian Islands volcanic archipelago will provide an opportunity to further explore modern volcano monitoring techniques, with a particular focus on geophysical and geochemical methods, and of implementing data collection into a research project.
The aim of this course is to provide students, through a combination of classroom and field-based learning, with knowledge on geophysical, geochemical and petrological monitoring methods of active volcanoes, on the techniques and strategies for analyzing and modeling monitoring data and on their use for the purpose of assessing volcanic hazard. In addition to the lectures, the students are engaged in practical exercises on instrumentation and modeling methods.
The field trips and site visits also provide context to devote specific attention to the impact of volcanic eruptions on human activities and life, unveiling the close interplay between man and volcanoes around the world and throughout history.