Italy's Mount Etna displayed its largest eruption in months over the weekend with bursts of lava fountains and billowing plumes of ash that forced the closure of the nearby Catania and Comiso airports on Sunday.
Smoke and ash billow from the newly erupting Southeast crater on Mount Etna in this natural-color satellite image snapped Dec. 13, 2013. Black lava trails from the eruption of Dec. 2, wind down the snow covered slopes.
The southeast crater oozed lava down Mount Etna's flanks and could be seen from Sicily's popular seaside resorts of Catania and Taormina.
Violent roars accompanied the bursting lava fountains.
Several small earthquakes also rattled the volcano as the eruption continued.
A stratovolcano, Mount Etna erupts frequently with thick and viscous, basaltic lava bursting forth after gas pressures build up behind choking plugs in the volcano's throat. The conical volcano is made of multiple layers of ash, tephra, pumice, and lava.
Mount Etna displays classic Strombolian activity with its eruptions, a type of eruption named after Etna's neighboring volcano that produces explosive outbursts of pasty lava.
Eruptions from Mount Etna date back to 1500 BC, making it one of the longest-documented active volcanoes on Earth today.