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Report on Etna (Italy) — January 2003


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 28, no. 1 (January 2003)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke.

Etna (Italy) Flank eruption that began in October ends on 28 January

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Etna (Italy) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 28:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200301-211060



37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3320 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

After three months of activity, the flank eruption at Etna that began on 27 October 2002 finished on 28 January 2003. Lava flows and Strombolian explosions in January were confined to the S-flank vent located at 2,750 m elevation. Lava flows formed a fan and covered the previous lava flow field. A decrease in effusion during January was suggested by the shorter lava flow lengths of less than 2 km, which formed a complex flow field with small lava tubes. Strombolian activity from the 2,750-m cinder cone significantly declined on 27 January and disappeared on 29 January. Lava flows slowed on 27 January, and were no longer fed by the 29th, and thus cooled down. At this time SO2 output decreased significantly, reaching the lowest value of 2,000 tons/day on 29 January 2003. Volcanic tremor amplitude showed a marked decrease on 27 January, and on 28 January at 2240 it returned to background levels, signaling the end of the eruption.

Geological Summary. Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily's second largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical 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 horseshoe-shaped 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: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Sezione di Catania Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/).