Report on Etna (Italy) — 18 May-24 May 2022
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
18 May-24 May 2022
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2022. Report on Etna (Italy). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 18 May-24 May 2022. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
37.748°N, 14.999°E; summit elev. 3357 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
INGV reported that at around 1900 on 12 May a new vent opened along the N flank of Etna’s Southeast Crater (SEC) at an elevation of 3,250 m, and produced ash emissions that rose to 3.5 km (11,500 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW. Small pyroclastic flows descended the flank. Lava effused from the vent and traveled N and NE into the snowy Valle del Leone, where lava blocks that rolled onto the snow caused steam plumes. The lava flow slowly advanced during 13-22 May, reaching 2,300-2,400 m elevation by 17 May. Discontinuous Strombolian activity of variable intensities occurred at SEC; ash emissions were visible during more intense phases, though the plumes dissipated rapidly.
A new lava flow emerged from the vent on the N flank at around 2300 on 17 May and traveled N and NE alongside the previous lava flow. During fieldwork conducted on 18 May, scientists observed that lava had reached an elevation of 2,700 m in the Valle del Leone. A new vent opened on the N flank of SEC by 1730 on 20 May, at 3,250 m elevation, just NW of the previous vent. The vent produced a small lava flow that curved N and NE, joining the previous flow. By 21 May lava flows were not advancing below the summit area, at elevations of 2,700-2,800. Strombolian activity of varying intensity continued at SEC; periodic ash emissions generated ashfall in areas as far as Catania. At 2305 on 21 May a pyroclastic flow from the 20 May vent traveled 700 m NNE. Ash emissions intensified during 0300-0400 on 22 May. By that evening, lava flows from the 12 May vent had ceased and the 20 May vent produced short lava flows.
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.