Report on Etna (Italy) — 18 December-24 December 2002
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 18 December-24 December 2002
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2002. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 18 December-24 December 2002. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3295 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Eruptive activity continued during 16-21 December at Etna. According to the Italy's Volcanoes website, during the evening of 16-17 December explosive activity changed from lava-and-ash fountaining to discrete, ash-poor Strombolian explosions. Lava continued to flow from two vents at the S base of the active pyroclastic cone at 2,750-m elevation. During 19-21 December there were frequent shifts from lava fountaining and ash emissions to Strombolian explosions, and vice versa. Lava was no longer traveling towards the Rifugio Sapienza tourist complex. Ash had not fallen at the Catania airport since 8 December, so the airport returned to full service.
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.