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Report on Etna (Italy) — February 1987


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 12, no. 2 (February 1987)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Etna (Italy) 120-day eruption ends

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1987. Report on Etna (Italy) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 12:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198702-211060



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"The eruption that began 30 October 1986 ceased at the end of February, probably on the 27th, after 120 days. The effusive activity that had originated from Conetto Rittmann diminished gradually. Only two lava flows, poorly fed, were noted around 20 February. These were moving across the lava field that had formed in previous months within the Valle del Bove, and did not advance below 1,800 m altitude. At the end of February, only gas emission, very vigorous at times, was noted at Conetto Rittmann. More or less impressive gas emission, mixed at times with a little ash, occurred from the two central crater vents. Consistent ash expulsion was rare. Gas emission continued from Southeast Crater. During the eruption, Northeast Crater had shown weak fumarolic activity, but emission of gas that sometimes contained a little ash was noted in early March.

"After the two earthquakes of 2 February, no significant shocks had occurred in the area as of 6 March. Throughout February, tremor energy remained at the low levels reached at the end of January. The presumed date of the end of all eruptive activity (27 February) is in accord with a decline in tremor energy, when values reached those typical of quiescence at the volcano."

Further References. Caltabiano, T., Calvari, S., and Romano, R., 1987, Rapporto sull'attività eruttiva dell'Etna nel periodo Gennaio 1986-Febbraio 1987: Bolletino del Gruppo Nazionale per la Vulcanologia, p. 215-231.

Carveni, P., Rasa, R., Scribano, V., and Sturiale, C., 1987, L'Eruzione Etnea del 1986-1987: Aspetti Fenomenologici e Dati Petrologici: Boll. Accad. Gioenia Sci. Nat. Catania, v. 20, p. 197-217.

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, T. Caltabiano, and D. Condarelli, IIV; S. Gresta and C. Sturiale, Univ di Catania.