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Report on Etna (Italy) — April 1984


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 9, no. 4 (April 1984)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Etna (Italy) Strombolian activity and small lava flows from Southeast Crater

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1984. Report on Etna (Italy) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 9:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198404-211060



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"During the night of 27-28 April, an eruptive fissure oriented approximately NW-SE opened inside the Southeast Crater, near its NE margin. This crater, which is at ~3,000 m elevation behind the SE side of the central crater, formed in May 1971 and had numerous eruptive episodes in 1978 (April-July, August, November), 1979 (July-August), and 1980 (January-September, explosive activity only).

"Initially, moderate activity was observed from three explosive vents along the fissure, which ejected lava fragments. At the same time, small lava flows emerged from the fissure, remaining inside the Southeast Crater. During the next few days, strombolian activity increased with the ejection of lava fragments to 250 m or slightly more in height. During the morning of 1 May, lava flowed over the NE rim of the crater then turned SE, covering the E side of the Valle del Bove and quickly reaching a length of 2 km. Feeding of this flow was continuous but of variable volume, resulting in numerous superposed and parallel subflows but little advance of the flow front after its initial rapid movement. On 6 May, lava overflowed the SE rim of the crater, advancing NE and later E. This flow, which was fed until the morning of 8 May, reached a length of about 1 km. As of 10 May, both the strombolian activity (which formed a scoria conescoria cone inside the Southeast Crater) and the effusive activity appeared to be decreasing.

"Starting 5 May, strong ash ejections from the Chasm were observed, while from Bocca Nuova only emission of gas under pressure was detected. In the past months, a lava lake 150 m from the rim of Bocca Nuova has been noted."

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, IIV.