Report on Etna (Italy) — 6 July-12 July 2011
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 July-12 July 2011
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2011. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 July-12 July 2011. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3295 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo reported that explosions from the pit crater located on the E flank of Etna's SE Crater cone were heard on the morning of 4 July. Incandescence was observed later that evening. Small Strombolian eruptions were recorded by a camera during 5-6 July.
On 7 July Strombolian activity gradually increased along with volcanic tremor amplitude. Small pyroclastic cones began to grow on the crater floor. During the next morning, volcanic tremor amplitude clearly increased. Shortly thereafter it abruptly decreased and the Strombolian activity completely ceased. During the morning of 9 July, Strombolian activity resumed and volcanic tremor amplitude rose rapidly. Around noon lava overflowed the E rim of the crater and followed the path of lava flows from the previous eruption, into the upper W part of the Valle del Bove. Later that day Strombolian explosions turned into a continuous lava fountain. A dense eruptive plume rose several kilometers high and drifted S and SE, causing ash and lapilli fall in populated areas including Trecastagni, Viagrande, and Acireale towards the SE, and between Nicolosi and Catania towards the S, forcing the closure of the Fontanarossa international airport in Catania. A few hours later volcanic tremor amplitude dropped to very low levels and all eruptive activity ceased.
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.