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Stromboli eruption in the news

Updated Thursday, 1st March 2007

A call from Al Jazeera alerts Dave Rothery to the latest eruption of a volcano in Italy. But he nearly ends up being interviewed about China.

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28 February - arrived late into the office, so did not go for lunch at usual time. Just after one o'clock phone rings. It's a researcher from Al Jazeera television wanting help in finding a volcanologist to interview. "Why, what's happening?" I ask. It turns out that Stromboli - a volcanic island north of Sicily - is erupting. Stromboli usually has a small explosive eruption every 20 minutes or so, but I surmise that something unusual must be happening for the news media to have become excited. It turns out that lava is flowing all the way down to the sea, and that villagers on the island have been warned to stay away from the waterfront in case there is a tsunami. Al Jazeera has acquired some helicopter footage of the ongoing activity, and want an interview to go with it. I've worked on Stromboli myself, and am currentlyputting the finishing touches to a new course on volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, so I agree to go down to London myself.

Hurriedly visit the website of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Volcanologia to print out their latest reports and photographs, then dash to the station. Read the reports on the train - they are in Italian but most of the scientific terms are recognisable. So far as I can make out it looks very similar to what began in December 2002 (see my 2003 pictures below), when landslides down the unstable 'Sciara del Fuoco' caused tsunami waves that put six people in hospital.

Arrive Al Jazeera at thee o'clock. Am asked to wait in the 'green room'. After a while a chap in headphones pokes head round door. "Is one of you a doctor?" he asks. The other guest looks blank. I confess to having a PhD and bearing the title Dr. "Ah, you must be the one," says chap in headphones.  Am ushered into impressive looking high-tech news studio, and am fitted with earpiece and microphone. I ask if I will be able to see the footage of the eruption on one of the many monitors during the interview. "Oh, aren't you here to comment on the Chinese economic forecast?"

That could have been embarassing. So it's back to the 'green room' until they are ready for the Stromboli feature.

Lava issuing from Stromboli in June 2003 Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Dave Rothery
Stromboli as I saw it in June 2003, with lava issuing from a vent below the northeast crater.
Cascades of rock bouncing into the sea

Stromboli as I saw it in June 2003, with cascades of rock bouncing into the sea (larger rockfalls that this could cause a tsunami large enough to threaten waterfront property in the nearby village). [image: Dave Rothery]





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