The New Student's Reference Work/Etna

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Mount Etna as seen from Reggio in Calabria

Et′na or Ætna, a volcano on the eastern coast of Sicily, 10,850 feet high.  It ends in a single cone, with a crater 1,000 feet deep and from two to three miles around.  On the sides of the mountain are a large number of smaller cones, the chief being the Monti Rossi, twin peaks cast up in the eruption of 1669.  The mountain rises through three zones—the cultivated region, of about 2,000 feet, where date-palms, bananas, oranges, lemons, olives, figs and almonds are grown; the wooded region in the middle, planted with forests of chestnut, cork, beech, pine, maple and oak; and the desert region beginning at about 6,300 feet from the base of the mountain, a dreary waste of black lava, ashes and sand, covered through a large part of the year with snow.  The famous chestnut-tree, one of the largest and oldest trees in the world, formed by seven trees grown together and 163 feet in circumference, is in the wooded region of the slope.  Nine thousand and seventy-five feet above the sea an observatory was built in 1880, which is the highest inhabited house in Europe, being 1,000 feet higher than the shelter on the Great St. Bernard.  The earliest recorded eruption of Mount Etna has no date, but seems to have happened before the Trojan War.  The earliest date is 475 B. C. The most remarkable eruptions are the following:  In 1169, when Catania with 15,000 citizens was destroyed; 1329, when a new crater was opened; 1444, when the cone fell into the crater; 1537, which overwhelmed two villages; 1669, when a chasm 12 miles long was opened and a new crater made.  In 1852–53 there was an eruption, which lasted nine months and sent out a torrent of lava six miles long, two miles wide and 12 feet deep.  There have been in all about 100 eruptions, 16 of them occurring in the i9th century.  The ascent is usually made from Catania.  See Etna and Its Eruptions, by Rodwell.