Logo link to homepage

Report on Etna (Italy) — August 2018

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 43, no. 8 (August 2018)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke. Report research and preparation by: Janine Krippner.

Etna (Italy) Degassing continues, accompanied by intermittent ash emissions and small Strombolian explosions in June and July 2018

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2018. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Venzke, E (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 43:8. Smithsonian Institution.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Etna is the tallest active volcano in continental Europe with persistent activity at multiple summit craters and vents. The active craters are Bocca Nuova and Voragine within the Central Crater, the Northeast Crater, Southeast Crater, and the New Southeast Crater (figure 217). This report summarizes activity from April to July 2018 and is based on reports by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 217. The active summit craters of Etna volcano: the Bocca Nuova and Voragine craters that occupy the older Central Crater, the Northeast Crater (Cratere di Nord-Est), Southeast Crater (Cratere di Sud-Est), and the New Southeast Crater (Nuovo Cratere di Sud-Est). The years given in parentheses indicate when the craters formed. Photo by Marco Neri, courtesy of INGV (19 July 2018 blog).

Activity through April was characterized by degassing at the summit craters (figure 218), with modest ash emissions from the New Southeast Crater and Northeast Crater in the first week, and occasional small ash emissions at the end of the month. Reduced activity dominated by degassing continued into May with modest ash emission from the Southeast and Northeast craters during the second week, and isolated ash emissions from the Northeast Crater in the second half of the month continuing into June.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 218. Degassing at the Bocca Nuova crater at the summit of Etna in late April. The top image is a photograph of the crater with the location of the bottom image, which is a thermal image showing the degassing and temperature at the vent reaching over 400°C. Courtesy of INGV (Weekly report No. 18/2018 for 24 to 30 April 2018, issued on 2 May 2018).

Throughout June the activity consisted of degassing at the summit craters with isolated diffuse ash emission from Northeast Crater (figure 219). This continued through to July until low-energy Strombolian activity commenced in the Bocca Nuova (from two vents) and Northeast craters (figures 220 and 221). The Strombolian explosions were small, lasting up to several tens of seconds, and were sometimes accompanied by red-brown ash emission. The ejected material was confined to within the craters. More energetic bursts were visible from the INGV surveillance camera located in Milo.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 219. Photos of isolated dilute red-brown ash emissions from the Etna Northeast Crater on the 6 and 8 June. Courtesy of INGV (Report No. 24/2018 for the period 4 to 10 June 2018, issued on 12 June 2018).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 220. A sequence of thermal infrared images of a Strombolian explosion at the Etna Bocca Nuova crater on 17 July 2018. Two vents are active (A and B), with vent B ejecting lava up to a few tens of meters above the vent. The color scale on the right of the images indicates the temperature in Celsius. Images taken by Giuseppe Salerno, courtesy of INGV (24 July 2018 INGV blog).
Figure (see Caption) Figure 221. Photos of Strombolian explosions at the base of the Etna Northeast Crater on 20 and 21 July 2018. The explosions occur when gas pockets burst and eject incandescent fluid lava above the vent. Photo by Michele Mammino, courtesy of INGV (24 July 2018 blog).

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: Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/it/); Blog INGVvulcani, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) (URL: http://ingvvulcani.wordpress.com).