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E + 5 : We Are Exploring Mars - Just Kidding!

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

Except for the Blue Sky the landscape on Top of Monte Vulcano looks Martian

The day could not have started better. Yesterday’s clouds were gone and local fishermen approached us with their little boat full of fresh fish. We got an 8 kg tuna and 6 sea breams. Going to eat very well the next three days.

The two Fishermen with their fresh Catch - in the Background the Citadel of Lipari

Finally, the day of climbing our volcano arrived. Monte Vulcano was active during Roman times - the Romans named it after their God of Fire and Patron of black smiths. Monte Vulcano is dormant now for more than 100 years. It is still hot though. At the top, smelly Sulphur fumes rise from small holes everywhere. The crest of the volcano is covered with fine, yellow Sulphur powder.

Heading from Lipari towards Vulcano Island at 9 am - the volcano is right behind the sails

Climbing to the top took less time than we thought. We budgeted 90 minutes but arrived already after 60. The view on the Aeolian Islands was spectacular. In the fare distance we could even see the Stromboli with his typical smoke cloud. All Aeolian Islands are volcanos and result from the subduction of the former Tethys Sea floor below the European plate.

View from the Vulcano towards Lipari - the Stromboli volcano is visible on the far right

Within the next twenty million years, the subduction will be completed. Then, the African plate and the European plate clash head on. The colliding plates will be folded upwards. A massive mountain range from Spain to Switzerland, then to the Balkans, Anatolia and Persia will result. Some experts believe that the Alps 2.0 will be mightier than today’s Himalaya. This will also mean the end for the Aeolian volcanos.

The Path uphill is just loose sand and clay

One thing we noticed when climbing up was the loose material that form the body of a volcano. There are little basalt towers towards the bottom but higher up it is basically sand, fist-size basalt rocks, clay and pumice. On the flanks of the volcano, creeks erode the mountain body and flush the loose material into the sea. No wonder that volcanos do not survive for long. On average, they erode within 20 million years – except the basalt core which survives far longer.

Obnoxious Sulphur fumes on top of the caldera - they not only smell, they are also very hot

We could also see how rich and dense the vegetation is on the flanks of Monte Vulcano. There were terrasses everywhere. Looks like the mountain's flank was intensely cultivated until a few decades ago. But the mechanization of agriculture brought this to an end. Even though the grounds are highly fertile, agriculture on terrasses cannot compete with flat land production. Some wineries still hold out and produce small lots of lava wine – I wonder for how long. I hope that the better understanding of food and how it is produced will reverse this regrettable trend. We had some of the local wine and it has potential.

Sunset just north of Vulcano Island

We ended our day with a sunset dinners with out friends who sailed all the way from Sardinia to meet up with us. It was wonderful. Fresh seafood from this morning combined with local wines made the reunion with old friends extra special. Everybody went happy to sleep tonight.

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