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Report on Etna (Italy) — September 1991


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 9 (September 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Etna (Italy) Summit-area Strombolian activity apparently ends; continued degassing

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Etna (Italy) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199109-211060



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Strombolian activity in Northeast Crater had decreased by mid-July, and was no longer apparent on 23 August. Strombolian activity was observed in Southeast Crater in mid-July. All four summit craters were in a state of almost continuous mild degassing through August.

The following is from a report on activity 10-14 July, by J.P. Kloster in LAVE Bulletin no. 33, p. 4.

A network of curvilinear fissures, up to 2 m wide, covered the N, E, and SE parts of Southeast Crater. In the NW part of the crater, a vent 15 m in diameter emitted puffs of gas roughly every 3 seconds. Every half hour, a more violent explosion ejected lava fragments to 200 m above the vent, covering the walls of the crater and occasionally sending projectiles outside of the crater. The largest projectiles were estimated at around 5 kg, and were fluid enough to deform on impact. Two vents emitted slightly incandescent plumes at night. Each explosion was preceded by ~12 seconds of increased incandescence at the non-exploding vent, and corresponding intensification of glow at the exploding vent. On one occasion, a roughly 100-kg block of lava was ejected to 50 m height.

In the S part of Northeast Crater, a long-persistent vent, 5 m in diameter, emitted puffs of gas. At night, the emission was incandescent to 30 m height, with small lava fragments ejected during the most violent explosions. No projectiles fell beyond the crater rim.

About 70 m below Bocca Nuova crater's S rim, gas was strongly emitted from an E-W fissure, several meters wide and 12 m long, that probably formed in October 1989 (14:10). Explosions were heard emanating from the fissure area, roughly every 4-5 minutes. Night glow was visible at the fissure and at the vents of two coalesced scoria cones in the S part of the crater floor.

Very little activity occurred in La Voragine crater. One 20-m-diameter vent, on a small cinder cone, degassed quietly to several meters, and had night glow. Snow on the cone was largely covered by scoriae, suggesting recent activity.

No Strombolian activity or lava emission were observed during a 23 August visit to the summit by J. Dehn and B. Behncke. The vent in Northeast Crater had strong gas emission, accompanied by loud roaring noises, but no solid material was ejected. A dense continuous gas column was rising from Southeast Crater.

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: J. Kloster, LAVE; J. Dehn and B. Behncke, GEOMAR, Kiel.