Origins of Vulcanello based on the re-examination of historical sources (Vulcano, Aeolian Islands)

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Marco Manni
Mauro Rosi



 The lava platform and the three pyroclastic cones of Vulcanello constitute the northernmost volcanic structure of the island of Vulcano (Aeolian Islands). The sandy isthmus connecting the platform to the main island was definitively formed in the first half of the 1500s; before then, Vulcano and Vulcanello were two close but separate islands. For a long time, the interpretation of the sources of the II-I century BC, had considered the islet as built up about 2200 years ago. This belief, which proliferated among naturalists from the 17th century, is not confirmed in the ancient texts or even in the geographical documents of the time, which do not indicate the presence of Vulcanello as a new and stable island near Vulcano. The islet would only be mentioned at the dawn of the second millennium, and named in Arabic “Gabal’ al Burkān”, meaning Mount of Vulcano; shortly thereafter the toponym changed to the Latin “Insulam Vulcanelli” and then, towards the 15th century, finally to Vulcanello. 

Since the creation of a volcanic island certainly occurred in the Aeolian Islands in the classical era, but traces of it were quickly lost, the most plausible hypothesis is that it was formed in the area of the current Vulcanello, to be subsequently erased by the sea. The shallow, flat seabed, likely remaining as a result of sea abrasion, might have represented the morphological element on which the circular lava platform we know today was formed sometime between 950 and 1000 AD. 

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Manni M, Rosi M. Origins of Vulcanello based on the re-examination of historical sources (Vulcano, Aeolian Islands) . Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2021Dec.13 [cited 2023Dec.2];64(5):VO548. Available from: