Saturday, June 09, 2007

Catania's Lava Coastline

One of the unexpected benefits of my many trips to the dentist's office in downtown Catania was the discovery of the beautiful black lava shoreline and its interesting rock formations. It just so happened that my dentist's office is located a little north of downtown Catania and right along the water. We were able to explore the neighborhood when I had some spare time before an appointment. Although we never found the bar or gelateria we were seeking, we did find this spectacular shore. Some of the formations caused by the waves of the Med are really beautiful. Apparently, this is a popular place for diving, too.

It made me start to think how long ago the lava actually flowed this far. I knew that Catania had been damaged, even destroyed by lava flows from Mt. Etna, but when? I came up with this explanation on a volcano site: "Since 1669 there has been no eruption that even remotely threatened Catania; the nearest lava flow in this period came to within about 15 km of the city. However, geological mapping of the urban area of Catania in the late 1990s has revealed that the area now occupied by the city was almost completely covered by lava flows on six occasions during the past 5000 years: about 4500 B.C., in 693 B.C., in 425 B.C., in A.D. 252 (or 253), in the 12th century (this lava flow is often attributed to an eruption in 1381, but was emplaced about 200 years earlier), and in 1669. The most voluminous of these flows is that of 4500 B.C. and occupies much of the central portion of the city area, while the 12th century and 1669 flows essentially remained outside the city as it was in those days."

By the way, Etna is NOT that close! It's at least 20-25 miles away. Here's a nice clear shot of Etna's peak from the shoreline itself:

And here is my favorite formation, which looks just like an elephant putting his trunk in the sea. Catania has an affinity for elephants. Perhaps it originated here?

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At June 10, 2007 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I can vouch that Etna is 25 miles away. Greg Volz just ran in the Etna Marathon yesterday. It started at the beach and ended at the top. In the snow!! 42 Kilometers of pure uphill fun.

At June 10, 2007 3:22 PM, Blogger Sharon said...

Man couldn-t they have that race reversed?? I see the elephant. do you rate dental care here?


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