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Early volcanology. Engraving of the Mount Etna volcano in Sicily, Italy, being observed by the Italian scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-99) in 1790. Mount Etna is 3323 metres high and covers an area of 1605 square kilometres, making it the largest active volcano in Europe. There have been more than 90 different eruptions recorded since the 18th century BC, although geological evidence shows that it is much older than that. Spallanzani made several ascents of Etna, measuring the temperature of the lava and the composition of the gases being released. At one point he was made unconscious by a release of gas. He significantly improved descriptive vulcanology.
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