Aeolian Islands, Sicilia
On Lipari, Vulcano and Stromboli volcanism is still active, while on the other islands it ceased between 5,000 and 20,000 years ago. On Lipari the last eruption occurred in 729 A.D.; on Vulcano in 1890, on Stromboli the activity has gone on continuously for at least 2,000 years. The magmas of the Aeolian Islands are similar to those of the volcanoes of the Pacific "belt of fire": with the passing of time they evolved towards ever more basic compositions, with lower silicon content and more potassium.
It is inhabited only along the eastern coast by about a hundred people. Even today you can see the terracings created by agricultural activities of past centuries; the island is covered with a very beautiful vegetation of agaves, prickly pears, capers, red bougainvilleas, roses, violets, oranges and heathers. Fishing, instead, did not develop much due to the presence of pirates and raiders in those waters. The sea is only accessible through small pebble beaches. Today the main products of the island are olives, grapes, capers and fish.
Under both a geological and volcanological point of view, Lipari is the most complex island. The oldest part, to the west of the island, is made up by relics of stratovolcanoes (Timponi, Monte Rosa, etc.). After a long break in volcanic activity, in a second stage the stratovolcano Monte Sant'Angelo was originated. Then the volcanoes of the third period erupted pumice and formed a series of domes, including the one of Montegalliana. After this third period there was a long pause, then the activity resumed in the north-east with obsidian lava flows. Recent dating established that the last eruption of mount Melato, with the obsidian emission of Rocche Rosse, occurred around 700 A.D.. Today the volcanic activity produces endogenous forms, such as fumaroles, solfatare and hot springs.
The main line of the original volcanic complex is located approximately in the sea stretch between two rocks, La Nave and Cacatu. Along the western coast (Cala Bianca), it is possible to see from offshore the remains of a secondary volcanic chimney resembling a big funnel. On the north-east of the island, on the Calcara beach you can see fumarole vapors rising from cracks among the rocks, and these heat sources makes the water boil. Other underwater activity is apparent in the bubbling waters between the island of Bottata and Lisca Bianca.
The Mediterranean maquis on Panarea includes the prickly pear, mastic, broom, caper and century-old olive groves. However, the original vegetation is contaminated by many exogenous plant species imported during the building and tourism boom. Regarding the fauna, there's the Queen falcon, the cormorant and the herring gull that nest on inaccessible rock walls of the western coast, and the gecko, a useful predator of insects.
The volcanic mount reaches an altitude of a few hundred meters and rises at the center of the island. The slope shows various landscapes: sand, porous pumice formations, glassy obsydian relics. The vegetation decreases as the altitude increases: at medium heights only the broom grows, and close to the main crater the ground is completely bare.
The Gran Cratere of the Fossa is the main one, with a diameter of about 500 meters, with the edge at an altitude of 386m, surrounded by slopes of greater height. In the vicinity of this crater there are remains of two more craters: Vulcano Vecchio, to the south, with the two peaks of Monte Saraceno and Monte Aria, which reaches an altitude of about 500m, and is the original volcanic nucleus; and the Lentia crater, to the northwest, much smaller, which originated the originated Gran Cratere of the Fossa.
Next to the island of Vulcano there's a peripheral eruptive complex, the Vulcanello cones, joined by an isthmus to the main island.
In the past few thousand years, Vulcano has produced half a dozen devastating eruptions. The Fossa Crater is active at irregular intervals since ancient times, as documented by classical writers (especially Thucydides in the second century B.C.). The last eruption occurred between 1888 and 1890, and was documented by seismologist Mercalli. Since then, a continuous activity was recorded of fumaroles, volcanic emissions of steam and sulfur gases. The fumaroles activity has been documented for centuries and has continued intermittently to the present day. On the Porto Levante beach, water and sludge are heated by the heat of the sulfur dioxide produced by the weakest fumaroles, which allow to take mud baths, beneficial for the skin.
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