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Report on Etna (Italy) — December 1992


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 12 (December 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Etna (Italy) Continued lava production; summit degassing

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Etna (Italy) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199212-211060



37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3357 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The eruption ... continued without major changes through early January 1993. Lava frequently flowed NE and NNE, and by early January there had been a notable expansion of the upper part of the lava field toward the NE. A new lava overflow was observed at the end of 1992 and the beginning of 1993 along the main lava tube above 2,000 m elevation. The overflow fed three distinct lobes that advanced a few hundred meters, to ~ 1,900 m asl. Lava continued to flow through the main tube, and was visible in early January through three skylights between 2,210 and ~ 1,900 m elevation. From there, the main tube divided into a complex tube system, from which lava emerged onto the surface at ~1,700 m altitude through small ephemeral vents. On 8 January, about six ephemeral vents were visible, feeding small flows that advanced NNE and E over the lava field formed in previous months. The NNE flow reached 1,650 m elevation, the E flow 1,600 m. The volume of lava produced by 394 days of activity was estimated at ~ 270 x 106 m3.

Gas emission from the upper part of the eruptive fissure was not very intense. Apparent fluctuations were linked to weather conditions. Summit-crater degassing was similar to the previous month. Northeast Crater remained obstructed, with only weak fumarolic activity on the inner walls. SO2 flux, measured by COSPEC, was still relatively high at ~ 7,000 t/d.

Of the 83 seismic events recorded 9 December-11 January, 51 occurred in four swarms, all located in the summit-crater area, with magnitudes of 1.5-3.3. The most significant swarm, on 2 January, had 17 events, with the strongest (M 3.3) at 1342. This swarm was accompanied by a slight increase in the amplitude of tremor, otherwise nearly absent during the period.

Geological Summary. Mount Etna, towering above Catania on the island of Sicily, has one of the world's longest documented records of 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 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.

Information Contacts: R. Romano and T. Caltabiano, IIV; P. Carveni, M. Grasso, and M. Porto, Univ di Catania; G. Luongo, OV.