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Today we feature photos of Mount Etna in Sicily taken by Richard Bond. His captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.
My photos near the top of Mount Etna might be of interest, though not all of nature is colorful or beautiful or both.
Anyway, from a service complex at 1,900 metres one can take a cable car to 2,500 metres. Previous iterations went higher, but were repeatedly damaged by lava flows, so now a fleet of rather specialised buses goes to nearly 3,000 metres.
The first photo shows one of these: its large wheels, long suspension travel, high ground clearance, and 4WD testify to the difficulty of the terrain. There are no fixed tracks, as new lava keeps changing the upper route.
This shows a fairly recent flow in the foreground with the top of the mountain above it. That bit of white halfway up to the left is steam issuing from a vent. The peaks are a little hazy owing, I think, to dust emitted along with the steam.
This is a close-up of the lava. The whitish inclusions are limestone, carried up from around sea level.
A general view of a crater at about 3,000 metres. It seems to be a complex of one main crater about 300 metres across containing some subsidiary ones. I walked anticlockwise right round this crater, and the next photo looks back to its lowest lip.
The next three photos are of various vents in the sides of the crater, and the fourth one is a mini crater inside the main one.
This was taken near the highest point of the crater rim. The serpentine track of the bus gives some idea of the steepness and difficulty of the route.
This shows the then highest peak of Etna, 300-400 metres higher, taken as I was walking down from the crater rim. I did not have enough time to walk to the peak. There is a rather neat small crater in the middle ground. Pity about the dusty haze.
Here is one of the numerous boulders scattered around and in the crater, showing embedded limestone. This one was a bit bigger than a rugby ball.
About 30 kilometres from the peak is the delightful town of Taormina. Its main feature is a Greek theatre, which seems to have been deliberately set to have Etna as a backdrop. My photo of it below is most disappointing: I had to use a wide-angle lens setting to include all of the theatre. That not only shrunk Etna but also seemed to exacerbate the obscuring effect of the dust. I include it mainly because I wonder if any of the accomplished photographers among WEIT readers could suggest how I could have done better.
This was taken the following day at Syracuse and shows part of the quarry in which the Athenian troops who surrendered in 413 BCE were worked and starved to death. The rock is limestone, presumably part of the bed that lies under Etna and which is the source of the limestone inclusions.