Natural Hazards


Stromboli: The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean

Stromboli: The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean

In the last months two paroxysmal explosive eruptions took place at Stromboli volcano: the first one, totally unexpected, on 3rd July (Video 1) that sadly cost the life of a person and the second and, currently, last one about three weeks ago, on the 28th August (Video 2).

Today we try to answer a couple of questions about Stromboli and its eruptions. Are these paroxysmal eruptions common or rare at Stromboli volcano? What are the hazards associated with these eruptions in the context of Stromboli’s island?

The volcanic activity at Stromboli

Stromboli, a volcano located on its homonymous island in the South of the Tyrrhenian Sea, is considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Already famous for its persistent explosive character during the Roman ages, they named Stromboli ‘the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’.

The ordinary eruptive activity of Stromboli is characterised by mild yet spectacular explosions, which eject gas, volcanic ash (i.e. tiny rock particles) and incandescent shreds of magma of decimetric size, i.e. pyroclasts. The latter is particularly capable of putting on a real fireworks display (like in Figure 1), and it is attracting many curious visitors; among them volcanologists, who find Stromboli the perfect natural laboratory where to collect numerous observations.
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Another (surprising) brick in the wall: how seagrass protects coastlines against erosion.

Another (surprising) brick in the wall:  how seagrass protects coastlines against erosion.

Dear readers, today our blog will host Marco Fusi, a postdoctoral fellow working on coastal ecosystems. Together with Marco we will give a twist to our usual geoscientific perspective and mix some ecology in it. Specifically, we will explore the surprising role of seagrass in limiting coastal erosion effects.

Marco Fusi is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at KAUST (Saudi Arabia), since 2014. He graduated at University of Milan (Italy) with a Ph.D. in tropical ecology. His primary interest focuses on ecological connectivity and interactions in coastal ecosystems.

1- Hello Marco, please give us an overview of coastal erosion issues.

When we speak about coasts, we think about beautiful mangrove forests or a dream tropical coastline that harbours beautiful crystal water where to dive in the middle of coral reefs. However, we tend to forget that coasts are inhabited by almost 3 billion of people all over the world and hundreds of kilometres of coastline are heavily constructed. Cities, resorts, villages are expanding along the coast worldwide and often, the risk of coastal erosion is not considered. In the lasts decades, inland anthropogenic management resulted in a limited input of sediment to the sea and therefore the marine current started to erode beaches and rocky shore resulting sometimes in dramatical destruction of buildings.

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The (un)usual suspect: how the environment affects human health.

If you have been regularly following our blog for this (almost) past year, you may have noticed that the field of natural hazards is coloured by many different shades. One more that I would like to present you today is about how the natural environment can affect human health.

It is a recognized fact that geo-materials can pose a threat to our health. One of the most striking examples is asbestos fibres, used industrially in large scale since the mid-19th century until discovered potentially harmful and finally declared carcinogenic. The field of research that addresses this interesting subject is medical geology, and to discover a bit more about it I interviewed Dr Ines Tomašek.

A photo portrait of Dr. Ines Tomašek

Dr. Ines Tomašek


Ines, a former PhD student at Durham University in the frame of the MSC ITN VERTIGO, is currently a post-doc at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and part of the International Medical Geology Association (IMGA). Her research focuses on the effect of volcanic eruptions on environmental and human health.


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