Mt Etna Eruption: Another Apocalyptic Portent? (VIDEO & PHOTOS)

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By Vittorio Hernandez | February 22, 2013 12:52 AM EST

Doomsday prophets will again have a field day forecasting an Apocalypse, following the eruption of Mt. Etna in Italy on Tuesday.

The eruption provided a spectacular fireworks display that was caused by Europe's tallest volcano spewing out hot lava and gas toward the sky.

Klaus Dorchfeldt, videographer and webmaster of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology caught the eruption on video.

The volcano had exhibited restive signs the past few weeks and on Jan 22, lava and strong flashes were observed at its New Southeast Crater, seen clearly from the Sicilian foothills. Its Bocca Nuova Crater also erupted in 2011 for 10 days, from Jan 10 to 20.

Mr Dorschfeldt was on a volcano watch since he was aware that Mt Etna's recent signals are indicators of new activity.

"I've followed the activity of Etna for many years, and with time you learn to know it as if it were your friend . . . Following it constantly you learn to be a keen observe and a minor change can lead to something important," OurAmazingPlanet quoted Mr Dorschfeldt.

He observed three paroxysmal eruptive episodes in less than 36 hours. He warned that while the local population has no immediate danger from lava flows, air travelers could be affected by the ash plume.

The volcanic eruption would likely be tied up to recent end-of-the-world scenarios being theorised following several events such as the meteor shower last week in Russia, the near hit of an asteroid and even religious events such as the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, said to be the precedent for an end-times pope.

Experts, however, pointed out that super-eruptions are very rare, and the odds that one will happen in our lifetimes is very, very small. Based on research, taking into account the full span of the earth's geologic history, chances of a super-eruption is on the average once every 700,000 years, geologists said.

Drew Shindell, climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said there is absolutely no sign of a super-eruption hovering anytime soon.

"There has been only on super-eruption in more than 100,000 years, so odds are miniscule for either near-future or within our lifetime," OurAmazingPlanet quoted Mr Shindell.

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