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Report on Etna (Italy) — August 1984


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 9, no. 8 (August 1984)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Etna (Italy) Lava production and ash emission continue

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1984. Report on Etna (Italy) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 9:8. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198408-211060



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"The Southeast Crater strombolian activity was intense at times (23 August, 1 and 6 September) and almost absent at other times (afternoon of 7 September). Violent expulsions of dark ash still occurred, at irregular intervals. The effusive activity took place through various vents along the edge of the Southeast Crater (around 3,000 m elevation). In August the effusive activity occurred mainly on the SE side producing lava flows variable in number, position, and rate of feeding. At first they were directed toward the S; later they turned E, rarely (on 23 August) advancing below the edge of the Valle del Bove (about 2,700 m elevation). On 31 August, one of these flows advanced to ~200 m from the rifugio Torre del Filosofo at 2,910 m elevation. The flow then turned E and stopped 1 September at 2,780 m elevation.

"August activity from Bocca Nuova was similar to that of the previous month, mainly showing emission of gas and steam. The Chasm remained obstructed by landslides within the conduit. During the first few days of September, isolated expulsions of reddish ash from the Northeast Crater were noted, always in the afternoon. The last one was observed on 5 September. Usually, strong emissions of gas occur from this crater."

On 16 August at 0606, a weather satellite image showed a plume extending ~200 km SE from Etna at about 5.5 km altitude. The next morning at 0726, a similar plume was present on the imagery. Low sun angles in the early morning improve the visibility of eruption plumes.

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; M. Matson and J. Paquette, NOAA.