Report on Etna (Italy) — 28 January-3 February 2015
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 28 January-3 February 2015
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2015. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 28 January-3 February 2015. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3295 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INGV reported that a new eruptive episode at Etna began on 31 December and lasted through the morning of 2 February. Poor meteorological conditions prevented views of the summit area during the first 36 hours of the eruption. During improved viewing conditions on the evening of 1 February, volcanologists observed Strombolian activity from a single vent in the saddle between the cones of the Southeast Crater (SEC). Explosions occurred every few seconds and ejected incandescent bombs 200 m high. At the same time a vent at the base of the southern SEC cone issued a lava flow that traveled 2 km S, dividing into two branches. At dawn on 2 February the Strombolian activity produced a dense ash cloud that drifted E. At about 0550 emissions stopped and volcanic tremor suddenly decreased.
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.