Logo link to homepage

Report on Etna (Italy) — 27 November-3 December 2002


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
27 November-3 December 2002
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2002. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 November-3 December 2002. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (27 November-3 December 2002)



37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3320 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Etna continued to erupt through 2 December. According to the Italy's Volcanoes website, during the afternoon on 1 December ash fell in Catania and surrounding areas, leading to the closure of Fontanarossa Airport. On the 2nd, explosive activity continued at two vents on Etna's upper S flank and lava was emitted from a third vent at the SW base of the large pyroclastic cone that formed during the first 5 weeks of activity. In addition, the most advanced part of the most recently active lava flow that burned part of a forest on the SW flank seemed to have stopped. According to the Toulouse VAAC, since the eruption began on 27 October there has been unsteady activity at the volcano with periods of stronger activity leading to temporary ash emission.

Geological Summary. 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.

Sources: Toulouse Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Italy's Volcanoes, Etna Volcan Sicilien (Charles Rivière)