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Report on Stromboli (Italy) — May 1992


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 5 (May 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Stromboli (Italy) Frequent explosions; increased seismicity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Stromboli (Italy) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199205-211040



38.789°N, 15.213°E; summit elev. 924 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Seismic activity remained at a low level (around 100 explosions/day) from the beginning of 1992 through 8 April, when the seismic station was shut down for maintenance and conversion to a 3-component system. When operations resumed on 17 May, seismicity was unusually high, and the number of recorded events on 19 May was the largest since the station was installed in October 1989 (figure 25). Tremor amplitude briefly remained at November 1991 levels, but decreased rapidly beginning 20 May.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 25. Seismicity recorded at Stromboli, January-May 1992. Open bars show the total number of seismic events/day, while solid bars tally those with ground velocities exceeding 100 mm/s. The line represents tremor energy computed using 60-second samples taken every hour, then averaged daily. Courtesy of M. Riuscetti.

Daily summit observations 10-19 May revealed that activity was concentrated in craters C1 (vent 1) and C3 (vent 4) with glowing tephra ejected to 100-150 m height. Noisy vapor emissions lasting 15-20 seconds, accompanied by modest spatter ejection, occurred from a fissure in C2, on the W rim. Very modest activity continued from the small spatter cone in C3.

During the night of 16-17 May, Beat Gasser saw activity from several vents. Loud explosions occurred ~4 times an hour from C1, ejecting lava to as much as 300 m height for 5-10 seconds. Several explosions typically occurred at intervals of 5-10 minutes, followed by ~30 minutes of repose. Between explosions, a steady red glow and lava spattering were visible inside the crater, with spatter seldom reaching the crater's outer walls. Spattering declined before explosions. Crater C2 produced noisy 10-15-second gas emissions about once an hour. Ejections of a few red tephra fragments from C2 were seen during the night. East of C2, a steady red glow was visible at night within a small vent that was the source of pulsing gas emissions at 3-second intervals. Eruptions occurred about twice an hour from C3, but like those from C1 were not evenly spaced. Two eruptions typically occurred roughly 10 minutes apart, followed by nearly an hour of quiet. The three active craters never erupted simultaneously, and their eruptions were separated by intervals of at least 5 minutes.

Geological Summary. Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at Stromboli have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean" in the NE Aeolian Islands. This volcano has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period took place between about 13,000 and 5,000 years ago. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent scarp that formed about 5,000 years ago due to a series of slope failures which extends to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild Strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

Information Contacts: M. Riuscetti, Univ di Udine; B. Gasser, Kloten, Switzerland.