Report on Etna (Italy) — 20 August-26 August 2003
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 August-26 August 2003
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 20 August-26 August 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3295 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INGV-CT reported that on 11 August at 1715 an increase in volcanic tremor at the summit seismic stations on Etna lasted about 15 minutes. The tremor was followed by about 30 minutes of strong explosion earthquakes that were recorded at all INGV-CT seismic stations. This was the first such event recorded since the end of the flank eruption on 28 January 2003. A red puff of ash from Northeast Crater was visible on a INGV-CT web camera located at Milo, about 11 km from the summit. Red glow from the crater was seen during the night. No explosive activity or loud sounds occurred during a field survey on 14 August, and no explosion earthquakes or tremor were recorded during 11-16 August. Periodic measurements of the gas plume at the volcano's summit revealed that gas emissions had generally decreased since the end of the flank eruption.
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.