When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Stromboli, The Volcano Helping To Predict When Others May Erupt

Stromboli, located in Sicily's Aeolian Islands, is one of the most famous volcanoes in the world, attracting tourists for its pristine black sand beaches. Yet due to its characteristics, including its uniquely consistent and predictable eruptions, it has also become an international reference point in the study of explosive dynamics.

Photograph of the volcano of Stromboli, with ash rising high into the sky

June 17, 2020: The volcano of Stromboli

Maurizio Ripepe

Explosive volcanic eruptions can be so violent and sudden that they catch most monitoring networks by surprise. These phenomena pose not only a scientific challenge but a serious danger, especially for those volcanoes located in inhabited areas or visited by hordes of tourists.

Take the sudden eruptions of Mount Ontake in Japan in 2014 and White Island in New Zealand in 2019. Despite being constantly monitored, these volcanic eruptions resulted in more than 80 deaths among unsuspecting hikers.

One of the most famous explosive volcanoes in the world is Stromboli, located in the Aeolian Islands, off of Sicily. Its gentle yet spectacular explosions, which launch lava and incandescent fragments to several hundred meters in height, have been occurring at a nearly constant rate every 10-20 minutes for thousands of years.

This ongoing, moderate explosive activity is unique and allows for close observation of an erupting volcano. This is how Stromboli has become an international reference point in the study of explosive dynamics. Many of the technological innovations and methodologies commonly used in volcano observatories today were developed and/or calibrated on Stromboli.

Magmatic systems

Two exceptionally violent explosive events, which happened in July and August 2019, interrupted this moderate activity. They generated eruptive columns which were several kilometers high, as well as fires and tsunami waves, ultimately covering coastal villages with ash and rocks.

These violent explosions involved deep portions of the magmatic system (up to about seven kilometers in depth) and are, therefore, believed to have followed a dynamic process different from the regular activity.

The volcano 'deflates' due to the release of gases and lava fragments into the atmosphere.

The use of highly sensitive sensors capable of measuring angles of a few millionths of a degree has shown that these violent explosions are preceded by a weak but clear ground deformation.

The entire volcano begins to 'inflate' about ten minutes before the explosion, following an exponential trend due to the expansion of gases during the magma ascent in the feeding conduit. Then, during the explosion, the deformation reverses as the volcano 'deflates' due to the release of gases and lava fragments into the atmosphere.

Photograph of a group of people at dinner who look up to the distant Stromboli volcano, which is lit up with its own mini-eruptions

A group of people enjoying their dinner watch as the Stromboli volcano 'erupts'.

Top Italia/Facebook

Real-time alert system

The Experimental Geophysics Laboratory (Lgs) at the University of Florence, in collaboration with numerous researchers from other Italian and foreign universities, has analyzed thousands of data points collected over more than 15 years of research. This has allowed for the determination that the volcano deforms in an identical manner following inflation/deflation cycles with each explosion, from the weakest to the most violent.

The more violent the explosion, the greater the amplitude and duration of inflation, but its temporal pattern remains unchanged. This indicates that the explosive process always follows the same dynamics and allows for the distinction of ground deformations preceding eruptions from signals produced by other natural sources (atmospheric pressure, temperature, tides, rainfall, earthquakes, etc.).

This uniqueness of the deformation process has led to the development of the world's first real-time alert system for explosive volcanic eruptions.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Look At This Crap! The "Enshittification" Theory Of Why The Internet Is Broken

The term was coined by journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the fatal drift of major Internet platforms: if they were ever useful and user-friendly, they will inevitably end up being odious.

A photo of hands holding onto a smartphone

A person holding their smartphone

Gilles Lambert/ZUMA
Manuel Ligero


The universe tends toward chaos. Ultimately, everything degenerates. These immutable laws are even more true of the Internet.

In the case of media platforms, everything you once thought was a good service will, sooner or later, disgust you. This trend has been given a name: enshittification. The term was coined by Canadian blogger and journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the inevitable drift of technological giants toward... well.

The explanation is in line with the most basic tenets of Marxism. All digital companies have investors (essentially the bourgeoisie, people who don't perform any work and take the lion's share of the profits), and these investors want to see the percentage of their gains grow year after year. This pushes companies to make decisions that affect the service they provide to their customers. Although they don't do it unwillingly, quite the opposite.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

Annoying customers is just another part of the business plan. Look at Netflix, for example. The streaming giant has long been riddling how to monetize shared Netflix accounts. Option 1: adding a premium option to its regular price. Next, it asked for verification through text messages. After that, it considered raising the total subscription price. It also mulled adding advertising to the mix, and so on. These endless maneuvers irritated its audience, even as the company has been unable to decide which way it wants to go. So, slowly but surely, we see it drifting toward enshittification.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest