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Report on Stromboli (Italy) — January 2002


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 27, no. 1 (January 2002)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Stromboli (Italy) Fallout from 23 January explosion carpets popular tourist area

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2002. Report on Stromboli (Italy) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 27:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200201-211040



38.789°N, 15.213°E; summit elev. 924 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

On 23 January at 2054 a large explosion occurred at Stromboli. The explosion was accompanied by a loud noise that was heard at all of the villages on the island and ashfall that lasted for several minutes.

On 24 January, staff from Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - Sezione di Catania (INGV-CT) visited the area SE of the summit craters near Il Pizzo Sopra la Fossa between the Bastimento and La Fossetta. They found the area covered with ash and blocks, mostly comprised of lithic material, with some clasts up to 60 cm in diameter, and with minor amounts of spatter up to 1.7 m long. No golden-colored pumice was found, which typically characterizes the most energetic events of Stromboli (Bertagnini and others, 1999). The greatest density of lithics on the ground was found in a ~200-m-wide belt between the craters and Il Pizzo. Spatter was more frequent NE of Il Pizzo. Fine-grained material covered the crater zone and the volcano's NE flank to the village of Stromboli, ~2 km to the NE. A continuous carpet of fallout material covered the zone of Il Pizzo, a spot where many tourists visit. The explosion would have posed a serious threat to tourists had it occurred during a visit. Fallout from the eruption also damaged equipment located near the summit.

During the 2.5 hours of the survey observers recorded only five weak explosions from Crater 1 and none from Craters 2 and 3. This activity was much weaker than that observed after the major explosion of 20 October 2001 (BGVN 26:10), when 15 explosions were recorded from Crater 1 and 8 from Crater 3 during a 1-hour period.

Thermal images on 24 January showed that Crater 2 had a higher temperature than the other active craters. Maximum temperatures recorded at this crater were 320°C averaged over a pixel area of 40 cm, much higher than the 200°C recorded on 20 October 2001. The high temperatures were due to spatter coating the crater's inner walls following the 23 January explosion. Measurements also revealed that the diameter of Crater 2 had grown from an estimated 10 m in October to ~26 m after the January explosion.

From the type and distribution of erupted products and the morphological changes observed at the craters, observers suggested that the eruptive event of 23 January could be related to the obstruction of the conduit of one of the craters. Gas pressure within the conduit probably built up until a major explosion occurred, ejecting mostly lithics. Conduit opening was followed by intense magmatic explosions and spatter fallout. During the present phase, observers were concerned by the lack of explosive activity at Crater 3. This may suggest an obstruction of this crater, which might be followed by a new violent episode similar to the one on 23 January.

Reference. Bertagnini A., Coltelli M., Landi P., Pompilio M., and Rosi M., 1999, Violent explosions yield new insights into dynamics of Stromboli volcano: EOS Transactions, AGU, v. 80, n. 52, p. 633-636.

Geological Summary. Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at Stromboli have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean" in the NE Aeolian Islands. This volcano has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The Neostromboli eruptive period took place between about 13,000 and 5,000 years ago. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent scarp that formed about 5,000 years ago due to a series of slope failures which extends to below sea level. The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild Strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium.

Information Contacts: Sonia Calvari, Massimo Pompilio and Daniele Andronico, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - Sezione di Catania (INGV-CT) Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy.