‘A Special Phenomenon’: Rare ‘Vortex Rings’ Seen in the Sky Above Volcano

‘A Special Phenomenon’: Rare ‘Vortex Rings’ Seen in the Sky Above Volcano

Italy’s Mount Etna volcano put on a show last week as it puffed massive rings into the sky, some of which were pink as they floated above the Sicilian volcano.

In a CBS News report Monday, Giuseppe Barbagallo, a member of the South Etna Alpine Guides Group, said the puffing followed the formation of a new pit crater with a “perfect circled mouth.”

“This is a special phenomenon,” he said. “We cannot see something like this every day.”

Formation of the phenomonon — known as volcanic vortex rings — requires a calm atmosphere with little to no wind and a circular volcanic vent, according to AccuWeather.

Accuweather noted that the rings are not smoke drifting up from burning inside the volcano. They are formations of gas.

“When hot volcanic gases are released suddenly from the vent in a short pulse, the gases rush upwards and create a cloud, not unlike plane contrails. While the smoke rings have been documented at volcanoes worldwide, multiple displays like this one are extremely rare,” the site wrote.

CBS reported that rings over Etna were described in 1724.

Boris Behncke, a volcanologist at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Catania, said Etna has produced more of these rings than any other volcano.

“The Bocca Nuova crater emitted thousands of these rings and it is continuing,” Behncke said, according to a translation.

Behncke posted some of the volcano’s rings to social media.

“Etna’s Southeast Crater continues emitting countless graceful vapor rings (‘volcanic vortex rings’), a phenomenon never seen like this before. Someone said ‘maybe because we receive so much bad news lately, Etna has decided to do something simply beautiful,’ he posted on X on Friday.

In an earlier post, he noted the volcano was emitting “unprecedented quantities of gas rings.”

“The rings look pretty much like the ‘smoke rings’ produced by an able smoker,” Behncke said, according to The Washington Post.

“Imagine a very narrow, cylindrical conduit, within which, at a certain depth, there is magma,” Behncke said. “Every so often, a bubble forms at the surface of the magma, bursts, and sends a slug of gas at high speed through that conduit.”

The European Space Agency, which monitors the volcano from space, said that after a week of being quiet, Etna’s Southeast Crater began activity on March 31 with an explosion followed by spewing ash and lava.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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