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Report on Etna (Italy) — 11 September-17 September 2019


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
11 September-17 September 2019
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2019. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 11 September-17 September 2019. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (11 September-17 September 2019)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

INGV reported that Strombolian activity at Etna’s Northeast Crater (NEC) likely began on 8 September. Continuous Strombolian activity recorded between 2000 on 9 September and 0700 on 10 September produced diffuse ash emissions which quickly dissipated. The most intense part of the eruptive period occurred during 2000-2200. Minor ashfall was reported in Piedimonte Etneo, Giarre-Riposto, and Rifugio Citelli. Incandescence from the activity had significantly subsided by 0300 on 10 September, coincident with the ejection of lava fragments outside of the crater. Dilute ash puffs were continuously observed at dawn the next day. Strombolian activity ceased around 0540 and then resumed around 0800. Weather conditions hindered observations at times on 11 September but clear observations after 2000 allowed for the confirmation of continuing explosive activity at varying intensity at NEC.

Ash emission from Voragine Crater began during the morning of 12 September and gradually increased in frequency. Activity further intensified at 1200 as Strombolian activity commenced and tephra ejected out of the crater was deposited at the base of Bocca Nuova Crater. Strong Strombolian explosions were felt in Zafferana Etnea, Aci S. Antonio, Pedara, and neighboring areas.

Webcam and field observations on 13 September confirmed continuing activity at NEC and Voragine craters. Diffuse ash plumes rose from NEC and dispersed near the summit area. Strombolian activity at Voragine Crater ejected coarse tephra as high as 20 m above the crater rim and produced diffuse ash emissions. Impact craters from the ejected tephra were distributed mostly in the W part of the area between Bocca Nuova and Voragine craters down to 3,000 m elevation. Activity continued on 14 September. During an overflight on 15 September observers noted that a scoria cone had formed in Voragine Crater, and diffuse ash emissions continued to rise from NEC.

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.

Source: Sezione di Catania - Osservatorio Etneo (INGV)