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Report on Etna (Italy) — November 1989


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 11 (November 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Etna (Italy) Summit tephra emission; strong, fluctuating SO2 emission

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Etna (Italy) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198911-211060



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The following, from IIV, summarizes the much milder activity in November.

Summit activity. (S. Calvari, M. Coltelli, and M. Pompilio.) November summit activity was limited to discontinuous tephra emission from Bocca Nuova. Tephra emission episodes were frequent during the first two weeks of the month, often associated with deep explosive activity. Tephra emission became sporadic in the second half of November, although continuous activity was observed on the 19th. No juvenile material was ejected. La Voragine and Southeast Crater remained closed, with only weak fumarolic activity on their floors. Degassing from the vent at the bottom of Northeast Crater continued from previous months.

Seismicity. (E. Privitera, C. Cardaci, O. Cocina, V. Longo, A. Montalto, D. Patané, A. Pellegrino, S. Rapisarda, S. Spampinato, and O. Torrisi.) Seismic activity was very low in November. The three most energetic events following the eruption seismicity occurred 31 Oct at 0752 (M 3.0, 9 km depth, in the S. Alfio area, ~ 13 km E of the summit), 10 November at 0319 (M 3.6, 14 km depth, S of the seismic network near Pantano di Lentini, roughly 50 km S of Etna), and 20 November at 0754 (M 2.4, 15 km depth, in the Sciara del Follone area on the N flank). Recorded tremor remained similar to the pattern observed by the end of the eruption.

Ground deformation. (A. Bonaccorso, O. Campisi, G. Falzone, B. and G. Puglisi, and R. Velardita.) No significant variation has been observed in data from a borehole tilt station (SPC) on the SE flank at ~1,600 m elevation.

SO2 flux. (T. Caltabiano and R. Romano.) SO2 flux stabilized at intermediate values (~ 5,000 t/d) at the end of October, but increased in November, reaching 12,000 t/d on the 17th. Rates then declined, to 2,000 t/d on 28 November. A similar fluctuating pattern was observed during the three months (June-August) preceding the recent eruption, and during the same period in 1988 (not followed by an eruption).

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. Santacroce, IIV.