Report on Etna (Italy) — February 1981
Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 2 (February 1981)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.
Etna (Italy) Explosions and lava flow from Northeast Crater
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 1981. Report on Etna (Italy) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 6:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198102-211060.
37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3320 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
The IIV reported explosions and extrusion of lava from the Northeast Crater. After a period of ash emission at the end of January and the beginning of February, stronger activity began with intense explosions the evening of 5 February. Lava flowed through a breach in the W-to-NW side of the Northeast Crater cone, forming three lobes that moved W, NW and N, covering the upper NW slope of the volcano. The N lobe, the largest, traveled ~2 km to 2,600 m elevation where it had a 1.2 km front. The eruptive activity stopped the evening of 7 February.
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: R. Romano, IIV; J. Guest, Univ. of London.