The nominated property (19,237 ha) comprises the upper part of Mount Etna volcano (3,350 m. a.s.l.), the largest active volcano in Europe and Mediterranean Area. It is located in north-eastern Sicily and is active from immemorial time. Mount Etna is a composite volcano and represents a unique environment due also to dynamics of geological phenomena (eruptions and related volcanic activity, earthquakes) that strongly influence and modify habitats and ecological features of the whole region. Mount Etna has been known and observed since Greek and Roman classic times and it currently represents one of the most popular and visited volcanoes in the world.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
Mount Etna is the most active, the highest (3,350 m. a.s.l.), and the widest sub-aerial volcano in Europe and Mediterranean Area and it represents one of the largest and active in the world. Its activity consists of continuous summit degassing, explosive Strombolian eruptions, and frequent basaltic lava flows.
Mount Etna is composed of two edifices: an ancient shield volcano on its base and the younger Mongibello stratovolcano, naturally built and remodelled on a periodic basis due to its active nature, on different areas of its peaks according to the large extension of its shield. Volcanic relief is multiple, being composed of several sequences erupted from distinct feeding systems (more than 260 eruptive axes) that arose to different edifices. Etnas magma has unique petrologic and geochemical features, related to the very complex structural setting of the Central Mediterranean area. Mount Etna has erupted many times in human history and its intense and persistent volcanic activity generated myths, legends and naturalistic observation from Greek and Roman classic times. Since then Mount Etna was known, studied and visited by innumerable scientists and tourists from all around the world and it is globally considered because of its notoriety, scientific importance, cultural and educational value, as an iconic volcanic site.
It is unanimously noted for the wide variety and spectacular eruption styles, the remarkable landscape and diversity of its geological and geo-morphological features. The entire natural history of Mount Etna region is related to eruptions and geological variations of the volcano. Colonization and establishment of plants on new surfaces is one of the most interesting ecological phenomena.
VII: Mount Etna is the most active, the highest (3,350 m. a.s.l.), and the largest sub-aerial volcano in Europe and Mediterranean Area and it represents one of the largest and active in the world. Its volcanic landscape, dominated by the top and the craters, is impressive. During periods of intense eruptive activity, lava can escape from hundreds of craters found on the flanks of the volcano. Intensity of its several vents phenomena is very variable going from Strombolian explosions and lava effusions lasting few hours up to several months or even years, to lava and fire fountaining, steam emission and mudflows. Mount Etna is one of the most popular and visited volcanoes in the world, due to its fascinating destructive phenomena, its extraordinary viewpoints covering snowy mountains, sea coast and volcanic activity all together and its landscape dramatically emerging from Mediterranean Coast.
VIII: Mount Etna presents a rare combination, easily accessible, of geo-diversity and different volcanic phenomena, features and landscapes and significant on-going geological processes. Mount Etna has erupted many times in human history and the intense and persistent volcanic activity generated myths, legends and naturalistic observation from Greek and Roman classic times. Mount Etna is currently a major centre for international research with a long history of influence on geology and geomorphology scientific essays; it is provided with a monitoring system connected with the most relevant volcanic areas in the world and it is known, studied and visited by innumerable scientists and tourists from all around the world and it is globally considered because of its notoriety, scientific importance, natural beauty, cultural and educational value, as an iconic volcanic site
IX: Ecological processes of Mount Etna is related to eruptions and geological variations of the volcano. Mount Etna is the best natural laboratory, in Mediterranean bio-geographical region, for the on-going ecological and biological processes of colonization and establishment of plants and animal population, the life strategies and dynamics for the re-use of environments and effects of habitat fragmentation.
Satements of authenticity and/or integrity
Mount Etna proposed is almost untouched by human activities. Most of the area is uncontaminated space completely intact, without traces of human activity. Nominated property falls within the more protected area of Parco dell'Etna marked as "zona a" in the overall 58.000 ha of the perimeter of Regional Natural Park managing Mount Etna. 19,237 ha "zona a" include the upper part of Mount Etna volcano and its most scenic values enclosing the entire range of volcanic phenomena as well as complete geological, geo-morphological and ecological features, and its relevant landscape. As above mentioned, Mount Etna is currently managed by a public body "Ente Parco dell'Etna".
Comparison with other similar properties
Several volcanic sites are already inscribed in the World Heritage List and National tentative list: Etna has been compared in particular with Aeolian Islands and Mount Teide (Teide National Park, WHL site), and Fujisan..
However, Mount Etna is unique for the following reasons: compared to Mount Teide and Fujisan, Etna is much older and geologically active; compared to Aeolian Islands volcanoes, Etna is similar to the intensity about activity but it is higher, with a wider shield, and it provides several vents comprising a larger range of volcanic features with a easiest access to visitors and researchers. Furthermore Mount Etna has been known and studied far longer, since ancient times, compared to Mount Teide and Fujisan. From the point of view of the spectacular beauty, Mount Teide and Fujisan do not show Mount Etna the continuous and spectacular landscape of a still active volcano. Finally, considering ecological value of all active volcanic sites inscribed into the World Heritage List, there are not comparable examples of continuous natural colonization processes and evolving endemism in terrestrial volcanic mountain areas of both European and Mediterranean bio-geographical region like Mount Etna.
- Mount Etna is the most active, the highest one volcano in Europe, one of the largest and active in the world and it provides several vents comprising a large range of volcanic features easy to be accessed by visitors and researchers.
- Mount Etna has erupted many times in human history; its intense and persistent volcanic activity is at the base of myths, legends and naturalistic observation since classic times. Consequently Mount Etna has been known, studied and visited by innumerable scientists and tourists from all around the world.
- Mount Etna is globally recognized on basis of its notoriety, scientific importance, cultural and educational value, superlative natural phenomena and exceptional aesthetic importance as iconic volcanic site.
- Mount Etna has been, and still is, a major centre for international research with a long history of influence on volcanology, geology and geomorphology.
Mount Etna is an unique example of natural laboratory scientific on terrestrial volcanic areas for the study of the process of colonization on new surfaces by plants and animals in both European and Mediterranean bio-geographical region.