Report on Etna (Italy) — 24 March-30 March 2021
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
24 March-30 March 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 24 March-30 March 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3320 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INGV reported continuing episodes of lava fountaining at Etna’s Southeast Crater (SEC) during the week of 22-28 March, though weather conditions often prevented visual observations. Weak Strombolian activity at SEC began at 2005 on 23 March and turned into lava fountaining at 0330 on 24 March. A lava flow from the SEC was observed at 0335 which split in two, one branch traveling toward the Valle del Bove and the other to the SE; the lava was followed by a pyroclastic flow at 0336 that traveled toward the Valle del Bove. The lava fountain produced an ash cloud that rose to 6-7 km (20,000-23,000 ft) a.s.l. and extended SSE, resulting in ashfall on the S slope and in Catania (29 km SSE). Lava fountaining gradually decreased at 0700, and by 0945 it had stopped. The lava flows continued to advance. Activity in Northeast (NEC), Bocca Nuova (BN), and Voragine (VOR) was characterized by variable intra-crater Strombolian activity, accompanied by sporadic and weak ash emissions that quickly dispersed.
On 24 March explosions at SEC continued after the lava fountaining had stopped, producing an ash plume that rose 4.5 km (15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE. At night, ashfall was reported in Milia and Trecastagni (16 km SE). Explosions stopped by 1347 that day. By 25 March the two active lava flows had ceased and began to cool. Weak Strombolian activity at SEC on 30 March resumed around 2030; intra-crater explosions continued in the NEC, BN, and VOR, the latter of which produced discontinuous ash emissions that rapidly dispersed in the summit area.
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.