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Report on Etna (Italy) — June 1985


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 10, no. 6 (June 1985)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Etna (Italy) Continued S-flank lava production

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1985. Report on Etna (Italy) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 10:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198506-211060



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"After a brief period of quiescence from 11-13 June, the eruption continued. Only one effusive vent remained active (2,485 m elevation) with major lava flows originating from it. From 9 to 11 July, following a brief increase in activity, four effusive vents were present at high elevation (2,490-2,480 m). The velocity of the lava produced in this period ranged from 20 to 7 cm/s, volume 2.5 to 0.5 m3 /s.

"The directions of the lava flows were mainly toward the S, SSE, and SE. In the last few weeks, lava flows of significant size were also present, and were directed toward the SSW, S, and SW. The short-lived vents were still present and numerous, scattered on the lava field from 2,350 to 2,250 m elevation. As usual, they varied in number and location. Recently, the lava field enlarged on the E side, but the lava flows have not descended below 2100 m elevation. The emission of gas continued and was sustained from the central craters, and the Southeast Crater. At times, expulsion of generally reddish ash from Bocca Nuova was noted. From the Northeast Crater, violent expulsions of old material (28 June), and emission of reddish ash (10 July) were observed.

"The temperature of the lava flow at the main effusive vent was around 1,080°C (P. Briole). During this period seismicity remained at low levels. On 12 June at 1848, a seismic event (M 2.5) with an epicenter in the lower E flank (14 km depth) was recorded. On 7 July, three events of low magnitude (<2.8) with epicenters on both the E and W flanks were also recorded.

"On 9 July at 0430, the amplitude of harmonic tremor increased abruptly, coinciding with the increase in effusive activity. During the following 24 hours, the amplitude of the harmonic tremor returned to normal levels (communications with M. Cosentino and G. Lombardo). The Etna guides and rescue volunteers from the Italian Alpine Club have cooperated in the collection of information."

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: R. Romano, IIV.