Logo link to homepage

Report on Etna (Italy) — September 1981


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 9 (September 1981)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Etna (Italy) Collapse in the central crater; ash ejection

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1981. Report on Etna (Italy) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 6:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198109-211060



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Collapse activity deep within Bocca Nuova has been frequent since the 17-23 March fissure eruption. No fissuring or other evidence of surface collapse has been observed around Bocca Nuova. Explosions associated with the collapse activity ejected fine ash, caused strong ground vibrations 300 m from the crater, and could be heard as much as 10 km away. Plumes produced by this activity could sometimes be seen on the satellite images returned once daily by the NOAA 7 polar orbiter. Images returned shortly after noon on 3 and 4 October showed narrow, well-defined plumes extending ~75 km downwind from Etna. A smaller, less dense plume extending outward only about 20 km was present on the 6 October image.

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; M. Matson, NOAA.