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Each year Mount Etna in Sicily slides a little closer to the sea. Researchers believe the effect is caused by gravity – making it more likely that the volcano could collapse altogether, as Dr John Murray of The Open University explains.

The southeast flank of Mount Etna in Sicily is sliding towards the sea at a rate of several centimetres a year. This might not sound like much, but the kind of stress that this movement creates inside volcanoes can cause devastating landslides.

If, one day, Etna’s movement significantly increases then it could have serious consequences.With this in mind, scientists such as myself have been studying Etna to try to better understand what’s going on. Now research published in Science Advances presents strong evidence that Etna’s slide isn’t caused by pressure from magma inside the volcano, as previously thought.

Instead, it’s likely caused by gravity pulling on Etna’s lower underwater slopes, far from the summit.

The Local 

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