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Stromboli volcano has been erupting on a near daily basis for more than 2400 years and wins the award for the longest continually active volcano in the world. It is located on one of the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily. This small island also is home to two villages, Stromboli and Ginostra, which are not in the path of the volcano. Stromboli volcano is often called the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” because of its dazzling explosions that hurl glowing debris far into the air. The eruptions have a low VEI rating of 2 and and generally do not damage the nearby villages.

The volcano erupts in numerous small explosions roughly every hour that can cause small tremors on the island. The lava that is released tends to be quite thick and gases present in the magma have a difficult time escaping. Pressure builds up in the gas until it finally bursts, causing small explosions and hurling bits of lava and other volcanic debris tens to hundreds of feet into the air. This type of eruption is referred to as a “strombolian eruption.”

In late 2002 and early 2003 Stromboli experienced eruptions that were much stronger than normal. These eruptions released a large amount of lava that was presumably thinner than usual, causing fewer explosions. The eruption and lava flow caused several major landslides that fell into the sea, producing a small tsunami. The two villages on the island experienced minor flooding and several buildings were damaged, but no one was killed.

The volcano receives quite a bit of tourism, especially at night when the glowing explosions are most beautiful. According to law, only guided tours are allowed to hike to the top of the volcano. A few years ago, one tourist who hiked alone was killed when he fell into the crater. The trail to the crater is difficult, dangerous, and takes roughly three hours to get to the top, however hikers are rewarded with close views of the lava and explosions. As an alternative, an old observatory turned pizzeria is only 40 minutes up the mountain and has more distant views of the eruptions. Tours also dock cruise boats near the island to watch the fireworks at night.

For eruption photos: http://www.educeth.ch/stromboli/photos/index-en.html