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Report on Etna (Italy) — July 1978


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 3, no. 7 (July 1978)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Etna (Italy) Persistent SE flank activity resumes 26 May-5 June

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1978. Report on Etna (Italy) (Squires, D., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 3:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN197807-211060



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Etna's SE-flank eruption, which began on 29 April, stopped for about 12 hours on 26 May, then resumed and continued until the evening of 5 June. When visited by John Guest and others in late July, the main SE flank vents contained glowing red fissures and emitted jets of gas at high pressure. Occasional deep explosions could be heard inside Bocca Nuova (the W vent of the central crater), accompanied by rumbling and frequent collapse activity. The Chasm (the larger E vent of the central crater), normally continuously active, was largely filled with ash and snow, and showed no signs of activity. Steam emission continued from the Northeast Crater, site of a series of brief eruptions between July 1977 and March 1978.

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. Guest, Univ. of London.