Environmental Features and Land Use of Etna (Sicily - Italy)

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Etna is the greatest volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. It is a complex strata-volcano formed of lava flows alternating with pyroclastic materials emitted over various eruptive areas which have, over centuries, built up the actual volcano. The climate in the Etna area is basically Mediterranean but rainfall and temperatures are affected by height, exposure of slopes, by winds and by clouds coming from the coast. Temperature distribution is uniform but rainfall is irregular. Moist winds from the sea bring rain to the eastern slopes. Surveys on the pedoclimate show an udometric regime ranging, according to altitude, from xeric to udic and a thermometric regime ranging from the thermic to mesic to frigid. On the lower slopes of the south-western flank the morphological features allow alluvial terraces, there are marine terraces on the south-eastern flank. Sub-vertical escarpments that reach 200 metres in height and several kilometres in length may interrupt these.Above 900 m altitude forests prevail, lava flows greatly influence the landscape and produce morphologies with irregular, rough surfaces. Slopes get steeper with frequent abrupt variations; some areas with gentle slopes and regular contours can be found. A peculiar morphological feature are the numerous cones along the perimeter, they are the result of the accumulation of the pyroclastic ejected. Above 2000 m the very steep slopes reach the main craters. After the recent lava flows the land has become a blackened moonscape.These characteristics greatly influence land use and distribution of vegetation. In the crop belt agriculture takes on particular characteristics determined by the landscape. Fruit trees are cultivated due to their need of a wide surface and particular conditions. The most important using specialized systems or promiscuous cultivation are: citruses, grapes, pistachio, apples, pears, cherries, kernels and olives. The cultivation of prickly pear and other fruit trees as well as strawberries at Maletto and suburban horticulture all supply local markets. Between 1000m and 1500m the forest area is characterized by chestnut trees which are used mainly for timber but sometimes for fruit. Other woods include pinewood from laricio Pine, birch wood from the Etna birch, beech-wood and poplar wood. The vegetation of the mountain belt is characterized by astragalus in various forms in varying systems. The most important in Spino Santo (Astragalus siculus) which dominates the landscape where thorny xerophytes prevail.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteSoils of Volcanic Regions in Europe
Numero di pagine16
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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  • ???subjectarea.asjc.1900.1900???


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