Report on Etna (Italy) — 27 July-2 August 2011
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 July-2 August 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, 27 July-2 August 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 in the evening of 28 July Strombolian explosions from the active vent on the E flank of Etna's SE Crater cone were weak and sporadic, then ceased during the night. Throughout 29 July the crater was quiet. In the early morning of 30 July intermittent incandescence from the crater gradually intensified and became more frequent, then was followed by intense Strombolian activity accompanied by loud detonations. Lava bombs ejected several tens of meters fell back into the crater or around the rim. A diffuse ash plume drifted E. A small lava flow on the E flank descended about 100 m then rapidly chilled. The activity was accompanied by a distinct increase in the mean amplitude of volcanic tremor that, along with the activity, abruptly decreased in the early afternoon.
Later that day the mean amplitude of volcanic tremor increased again along with Strombolian activity. A diffuse gas-and-ash plume again drifted E. Strombolian activity intensified and incandescent jets became continuous. At the same time lava flowed E and the effusion rate rapidly increased; lava flowed 3 km down the W slope of the Valle del Bove. The ash plume became more dense and ashfall was reported in the Ionian area (18 km E). During the most intense period, fragments of fluid lava were ejected 450-500 m above the crater and fell onto the flanks of the pyroclastic cone to distances of 200-300 m. Lava fountains jetted from at least two vents located within the crater and on the upper E flank, roughly aligned WNW and ESE. The activity ceased just after midnight. The event on 30 July was the eighth paroxysmal event in 2011.
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.