Stromboli is an active volcano that forms an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the west coast of Italy. It is one of the aeolian Islands. Its virtually continuous mild volcanic activity means that it has been referred to as the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean" since Roman times. Its base begins more than 3,280 feet below the surface of the Tyrrhenian Sea and rises to 3,031 feet above sea level.
Stromboli is thought to have emerged from the sea around 100,000 years ago. Stromboli is known as stratovolcano as a result of its concave slopes. It is located above a subduction zone, where one of the large plates that make up the Earth's surface (in this case the African plate) is being forced under another plate (in this case the Eurasian). The African plate melts in the intense heat of the Earth's mantle and molten rock is forced upward, emerging from the volcano as lava. Over time, lava built up around the crater of Stromboli, bringing it above sea level to form the cone-shaped island.
Stromboli has been continuously active for around 2,000 years. Lava erupts from the volcano's crater and flows down the slopes into the sea. Geologists believe that this suggests that the magma chamber within the volcano, in which molten rock is stored before emerging as magma, is constantly being refilled from the earth's mantle. This type of activity has become known to geologists as "Strombolian" activity.
Every so often, Stromboli surprises observers with a sudden burst of higher level activity. Historical records show that an explosion shattered windows in the island's villages in 1907, and in 1930 similar explosions were accompanied by a small earthquake and a tsunami.
Several hundred people live on Stromboli in the villages of Stromboli and Ginostra. In the past, the inhabitants used the volcanic soil to grow figs and vines, but now most of their income is drawn from tourism.
The relatively gentle nature of the volcanic activity at Stromboli means that it is usually safe to visit, making it an attractive and unusual tourist destination. Each year thousands of tourists trek up the slopes of the volcano to view the crater. The ascent takes about 3 hours. At the crater, visitors can watch as lava and other volcanic material erupts from the earth.