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Report on Etna (Italy) — June 1997

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 22, no. 6 (June 1997)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Etna (Italy) Summary of April-June 1997 activity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1997. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 22:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199706-211060.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During April the mild Strombolian activity of Southeast Crater (SEC) continued at the same level as in previous months (BGVN 22:02). Every night the surveillance video camera at "La Montagnola" recorded episodes of Strombolian activity that lasted from a few minutes to an hour, with some isolated explosions. Direct observations on 11 April revealed that the small SEC cinder cone had changed its shape and was still producing new lava flows from the breaks on its flanks. Strombolian activity occurred also at Bocca Nuova (BN) with spattering as high as the crater rim. On the N side of the crater floor a cone was spattering from one of its numerous vents. On the SE side a new vent opened near an older one; both were strongly degassing and mildly spattering. Strong degassing was observed both at Voragine and Northeast Crater (NEC). In addition, the collapse of NEC's floor was indicated by debris in the crater. Field surveys during the second half of April revealed no variations in the volcanic activity or in the craters' appearance.

During May, Strombolian activity at the N and S vents of BN varied daily in intensity from low-level degassing and minor eruptive activity to magma boiling on the crater floor and almost continuous Strombolian explosions. Volcanic bombs were thrown as high as the crater rim, but none fell out of the crater. SEC continued to produce minor, almost continuous gas explosions and some spattering from the dome-shaped cone. Lava emissions generally lasted for a few hours. This hornito-style activity was eventually interrupted by sudden vigorous explosions caused by temporary blockage of the conduit. Examination of bombs and lava blocks that had fallen beyond the SEC rim confirmed that the magma was more crystal-rich and viscous compared to the scoriaceous material erupted by BN. No explosive activity was reported at NEC except a few small brown ash emissions, probably caused by collapse of the degassing vent's walls. Enlargement of the pit-shaped vent was seen during a survey with a Civil Protection helicopter.

During June the explosive activity gradually increased at both BN and SEC. In particular SEC's hornito-style activity was frequently interrupted by intense explosions, but there was no appreciable variation in lava emission. BN activity remained within the crater boundaries with minor lava flows; eventually bombs thrown out of the crater fell on the cone's upper N slope.

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: Mauro Coltelli and Paola Del Carlo, CNR Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia, Piazza Roma 2, Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ingv.it/en/).