Mount Etna erupts near Catania, Italy, on Feb. 19.
Italy's Mount Etna sent lava and gas shooting toward the stars early yesterday morning, the first big eruption for the volcano in 2013.
The famous Sicilian volcano burst to life overnight, sending a fountain of fire into the air. The dramatic scene was captured in a video by Klaus Dorschfeldt, a videographer and webmaster at Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.
Mount Etna, one of the world's most active volcanoes, had emitted signs of an imminent paroxysm in recent weeks. On Jan. 22, lava and strong flashes in the volcano's New Southeast Crater were clearly visible from the Sicilian foothills; these often herald a new paroxysm: short, violent eruptive bursts.
Dorschfeldt said he knew Mount Etna's recent signals could precede 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," he said in an email interview. "Following it constantly [you] learn to be a keen observer and a minor change can lead to something important," he told OurAmazingPlanet.
The tallest volcano in Europe, Mount Etna is almost constantly spewing gas or lava. Its Bocca Nuova crater also erupted earlier this year, from Jan. 10 to Jan. 20. In 2011, Etna's violent bursts were spotted from space.