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Report on Etna (Italy) — December 2003

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 28, no. 12 (December 2003)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Etna (Italy) September-November 2003 volcanism low; web camera and satellites depict small plumes

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Etna (Italy) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 28:12. Smithsonian Institution.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

BGVN 28:08 reported ash emission at Etna during April 2003, and seismicity and ash emission during August 2003. A 12 September 2003 report noted that volcanic activity remained low at Etna's summit, with abundant SO2 and steam emissions at the NE and Bocca Nuova craters. An M 3.3 earthquake occurred on 14 September. It struck beneath the Ionian sea well offshore of Sicily's southeastern-most point. The reported epicenter (36.74°N, 15.60°E) was ~ 120 km SSE of Etna's summit. A Volcanic Ash Advisory noted activity depicted by web camera starting at 0500 on 25 September, with an ash-and-steam plume drifting to the W and visible below 4.5 km altitude. No ash cloud was visible on satellite imagery at 0530.

On 9 November, aviation sources and web camera observations detected an ash-and-steam plume moving S from Etna. The plume rose to ~ 4 km altitude.

Geologic Background. 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: Sonia Calvari, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy (URL: http://www.ct.ingv.it/); Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), Météo-France, 42 Avenue G. Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse, France (URL: http://www.meteo.fr/).