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Report on Etna (Italy) — September 1980


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 5, no. 9 (September 1980)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Etna (Italy) Ashfall to coast; lava flow; bombs

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1980. Report on Etna (Italy) (Squires, D., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 5:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198009-211060



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The 6 September eruption began at about 0500. Vigorous strombolian activity continued for 10 hours, ejecting bombs to 500 m above the same Northeast Crater vent that had erupted 1 September. Bombs 20 cm in diameter or larger fell as far as 750 m away. A lava flow, extruded from the same vent at a rate of 10-20 m3/s, traveled 2 km to the N, directly over the main lobe of the bifurcated 1 September flow, which extended about 1/2 km farther to the N. Ash fell on the coastal towns of Acireale and Taormina, 20 km SE and 30 km NE of Etna. Observations after the eruption showed the vent completely filled by lava and slumped debris. As of 3 October, no further eruptions had been reported.

Rumbling and deep explosions continued in September from Bocca Nuova. The Chasm remained inactive. Mild strombolian activity at the Southeast Crater stopped in September, with only infrequent gas emission and small collapse events reported.

Tim Sanderson collected gravity data before the 1 September eruption and after the 6 September one. Frequent ground temperature measurements by J. C. Tanguy and associates continue (05:05).

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: C. Kilburn, Univ. of London; T. Sanderson, Imperial College.