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Report on Etna (Italy) — July 1991

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 7 (July 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Etna (Italy) Strombolian activity and continued strong degassing

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Etna (Italy). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199107-211060.

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37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3295 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Strong degassing continued .. during fieldwork in June and July. Strombolian activity was reported at a vent in the NE part of Southeast Crater. Small explosions occurred almost continuously, with more powerful blasts ejecting material to the level of the crater rim occurring every 10-15 minutes (in July). Meanwhile, a vent in the center of the crater gently degassed. In June, occasional emissions of small (<20 cm) sublimate-covered lithic blocks and scoria occurred from a 20 x 10 m pit in Northeast Crater. Lava was visible within the vent, which continued to glow through July. The vent widened internally, giving the appearance of a large chamber inclined in the direction of La Voragine. The elliptical vent at La Voragine crater (reopened prior to a 24 May visit; 16:05) showed incandescence in July, but not in June. Degassing continued from numerous fumaroles within the crater. The floor of Bocca Nuova crater was hidden by large quantities of gas in June, but in July two scoria cones were seen gently emitting vapor. At night, a strongly degassing vent on the SE side of the crater emitted tongues of incandescent gas at 15-minute intervals. A fumarole (56°C) was observed on the October 1989 fracture where it crossed the Canalone Della Montagnola at an altitude of ~ 2,200 m.

The following is from Steve Saunders. "A resurvey, in July, of an EDM network (67 lines) on the upper S flank showed a shortening of the majority of the lines (56), suggesting that minor deflation had occurred since the previous survey in July 1990. At that time, length increases along most lines were interpreted as resulting from minor inflation of the upper flanks since November 1989."

Geologic Background. Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily's second largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BCE. Historical lava flows of basaltic composition cover much of the surface of this massive volcano, whose edifice is the highest and most voluminous in Italy. The Mongibello stratovolcano, truncated by several small calderas, was constructed during the late Pleistocene and Holocene over an older shield volcano. The most prominent morphological feature of Etna is the Valle del Bove, a 5 x 10 km horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the east. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur, sometimes simultaneously. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more summit craters. Flank vents, typically with higher effusion rates, are less frequently active and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit (usually accompanied by Strombolian eruptions at the upper end). Cinder cones are commonly constructed over the vents of lower-flank lava flows. Lava flows extend to the foot of the volcano on all sides and have reached the sea over a broad area on the SE flank.

Information Contacts: H. Gaudru, EVS, Switzerland; T. De St. Cyr, Fontaines St. Martin, France; S. Saunders, West London Institute of Higher Education; W. McGuire, Cheltenham and Glouster College of Higher Education.