Current Affairs
Malta and Italy in joint monitoring of earthquakes and tsunami in Mediterranean

Etna, the biggest and most active volcano in Europe, is sliding towards the sea in the Mediterranean, with scientists warning it may create a catastrophic tsunami.

The head of University’s geo-science department, Dr Pauline Galea, stated that the risk is there however it is difficult to predict if and when this may occur. She said that Malta and Italy are currently working jointly to strengthen earthquakes monitoring in the Mediterranean, which should lead to the creation of an alert system in case of a tsunami and its effect on the Maltese islands.

Seismologist Pauline Galea and other scientists who observe Etna in Sicily have been for long years aware that the part which lies to the east of Etna is moving in the direction towards the sea, with an average of two or three centimetres a year.

A study by a scientific team, including the Kiel University in Germany, concluded that the risks are a bit greater than previously thought because if this part of the volcano slides down abruptly at sea, it may cause a tsunami, which they warned may have disastrous consequences for the whole region in central Mediterranean. It is understood that another part of Etna, on the same eastern side, collapsed some 7,000 years ago and created a great tsunami in the East and Centre of the Mediterranean.

Dr Pauline Galea told TVM that Etna is a very active volcano which creates many movements and cracks which may be catastrophic. “It does not mean this will happen tomorrow; we cannot say with certainty that this will happen, however in such geological structures there is always the chance of an event which may be catastrophic”.

Dr Galea stated that the volcano’s nature is unpredictable and, despite the fear, it may not take place. She added that with the assistance of EU funds her department, similar departments at the Universities of Catania and Palermo, and also the Maltese and Italian Civil Protections are working in collaboration with other institutions for an adequate monitoring system and alert in case of a tsunami.

Dr Pauline Galea stated “it is called a tsunami warning system, that is we have instant information on earthquakes in the Mediterranean which may cause a tsunami. We are already doing this to strengthen monitoring in the whole of the Mediterranean”. Although the project is still in its early stage, she hopes that it will lead to concrete scientific results including about the possible effects of a tsunami in the Maltese islands.

See also:

L-Etna mistenni joħloq konsegwenzi kbar anke fuq Malta

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