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Etna: Eruptions before 1900


The following list is based on various sources, including the Smithsonian Institution's "Volcanoes of the World", the most recent existing geological map of Etna compiled by Branca et al. (2011), the phantastic monograph "Mount Etna: The Anatomy of a Volcano" by Chester et al. (1985), and the meticulous reconstructions of historical eruptions by J.-C- Tanguy and S. Branca and their collaborators (summarized in Branca et al., 2011, and Tanguy et al., 2012). Eruptions that occurred before the birth of Christ (B.C.) are shown with a "-" (minus) before the date; the first five eruptions have been dated by the C14 technique. Eruptions marked with a question mark in brackets "(?)" are uncertain, while the dates of those with a simple question mark are uncertain (uncertainties are dicussed for each event and are shown in italic). Flank eruptions (including uncertain events) are highlighted by red font color. Volumes are given (where possible) for eruptions since 1600. It is evident from this compilation that flank eruptions were much better documented than summit activity; after 1600 the record for flank eruptions is reasonably complete.

-6190 +/-200 yr

-5140 +/-150 yr

-4150 +/-150 yr

-3510 +/-150 yr

-2330 +/-100 yr

-1930 +/-60 yr. A highly explosive (sub-Plinian) eruption, with a large tephra volume deposited toward E, forming deposit FS (Coltelli et al. 2005) with a volume of 0.183 km3. The very the high explosivity of this event, apparently in contrast with the primitive magma composition, is interpreted as being due to the rapid ascent of volatile-rich magma

-1500 +/- 50 yr. This eruption probably caused damage and forced the local population to flee

-735 (?)

-695 +/-2 (or -693?). Eruption on the southeastern flank, building the large cone of Monte Gorna near the village of Fleri; lava flow (mg) about 10 km long passes immediately north of today's town of Acireale and enters the sea near S. Tecla. Archaeomagnetic dating by Tanguy et al. (2012) gives a date of -640 (+880 -680 yr). The lava flow dated -693 in the 1979 Geological Map is presumably of prehistorical age (Tanguy et al., 1999)

August -475 until -476. Eruption caused damage

March -425 or -424. Vent area unknown, but lava flowed to the north of Catania, causing damage

Between June and August -396 or -394.

-350?

-200 +/-200 yr. Eruption on the upper WSW flank (Tacca della Neve) produces lava flows (ne) still outcropping upslope of Monte Pecoraro; source vent unknown but might have lain in the summit area

-200 +/-200 yr. Eruption on the S flank building the Mompilieri (or Monpilieri) cone at about 700 m elevation. Lava flow (ir) to the south up to 6 km long

-150 +/-200 yr. Eruption on the S flank (1400 m) builds the Monte Salto del Cane cone and produces lava flow (sd) nearly 12 km long, into the direction of today's town of Acireale (the same eruption today would inundate the western outskirts of Acireale)

-141 or -140. Eruption caused damage

-135

before June -126

-122. A violently explosive (Plinian) summit eruption which causes heavy tephra falls to the south-southeast, and most roofs of buildings in Catania collapse; as a result the population of the town is exempted from paying taxes to Rome for ten years. Pyroclastic flow deposits attributed to this eruption crop out below 2000 m altitude on the SW flank, and the Plinian fall deposit (FE) is present in numerous sections on the SSE flank, with thicknesses of up to 0.5 m in the Trecastagni area, 15 km away from the summit. Tephra volume: about 1 km3 (Coltelli et al., 1998). Historical accounts reporting an eruption in 122 B.C. on the lower SE flank (Monte Serra or Monte Trigona) and a flank lava flow are doubtful

-61 (?)

-56 (?)

-49

March (?) -44. Eruption caused damage, ash falls on Catania. A tephra deposit (FF) was emplaced on the NNE flank; the tephra volume is estimated at 0.116 km3. (Branca and Del Carlo, 2004)

between June and August -36

-32 or -31

around -10

between 38 and 40 A.D.

80?

Note: Between about A.D. 100 and A.D. 1100, documentation of Etna's eruptive activity is extremely sketchy. On the one hand, the few events that are commonly attributed to that period are doubtful (Branca et al., 2011; Tanguy et al., 1999, 2012), but on the other hand, palaeomagnetic dating of numerous lava flows and pyroclastic deposits (including products that were attributed to much more recent eruptions) has revealed a considerable quantity of non-documented eruptions during this period.

~200. A small pyroclastic cone to the WSW of the Monti Silvestri, dated "1537" in the 1979 Geological Map, was probably formed around this date (Tanguy et al., 1999)

200 +/- 100. Fissure eruption near Monte Palestra on the W flank produces lava flow (fp) 4.1 km long that extends downslope between the Monte Palestra mountain hut (rifugio) to the area of Monti Tre Frati

February 252 or 253? Eruption on the southern flank, possibly from the large Mompeloso (or Monpeloso) cone. Historical descriptions claim that this eruption caused damage to Catania, and that the lava flow stopped just north of the town, after a procession in which the veil of recently martyred S. Agata (the patron saint of Catania) had been carried toward the lava flow. Recent studies indicate that the lava flow (mp) from Mompeloso extended little more than 5 km from the source and therefore did not come anywhere close to Catania. Lavas near Catania attributed to this eruption are of older but unconstrained age (Tanguy et al., 1999)

350 +/-100 yr. Eruption on the upper W flank (Albero Bianco), lava flow (ab) crops out near Poggio la Caccia

350 +/-50 yr. Eruption on the lower SE flank, whose lavas (sq) crop out between Viagrande and San Giovanni La Punta (previously attributed to an eruption in 1408). Source cone (or fissure) unknown.

417?

450 +/-50 yr. Eruption from an unknown vent on the W flank (maybe Monte Ruvolo?) produced a broad lava flow (nt) outcropping near the cemetery of Bronte (to the south of the town) and extending into the valley of the Simeto river. This lava was dated "17th century?" on the 1979 Geological Map

450 +/-40 yr. Eruption from an unknown vent on the SE flank, with lava (io) outcropping between Monte Arso (south flank) and the Trecastagni area. This lava flow is labeled "1408" on the 1979 Geological Map

500 +/-50 yr. Small scoria cones and remains of a lava flow (ty) near Ciacca or Fossa della Nave, to the south of Monte Vetore on the southern flank, and shown as being of the "12th century" in the 1979 Geological Map were probably erupted at the beginning of the 6th century A.D. (Tanguy et al., 1999, 2012)

~550. Eruption forming Monte Solfizio, a small, horseshoe-shaped pyroclastic cone on the SSE flank, near the source of the main 1792-1793 lava flow, and emitting lava flow (fs) 10.3 km long. This flow is shown as prehistoric on the 1979 Geological Map

644 (?)

700 +/-50 yr. Eruption on the E flank (supposedly in the Valle del Bove), emitting a lava flow near (ix) Primoti that is largely covered by more recent lavas

700 +/-80 yr. Emission of the "Gallinara" lava flow (gx) on the S flank north of Nicolosi, source vent unknown

812? Eruption vents south of Monte Sona (possibly Monte Arso). The lava flow attributed to this eruption seems to be slightly younger, dated at about A.D. 1000 (Tanguy et al., 1999)

800 +/-50 yr. Eruption on the W flank, emitting a lava flow (ip) of which only a limited outcrop is present in the Monte Palestra area.

814 (?)

859 (?)

911 (?)

~950 +/-50 yr. Eruption north of Monte Maletto, on the NW flank, forming a broad lava field (el) whose upper portion and source area is buried under younger lavas.

~950 +/-30 yr. Eruption from a fissure located at 1550-1450 m elevation, upslope of the two Monte Spagnolo cones. A large lava flow (vt) traveled 9.5 km to the north, invading the Alcantara river bed. Local legends relating of a new lake and flooding due to a lava flow blocking the Alcantara river possibly have their origin in this event. This lava flow was labeled "1536" on the 1979 Geological Map

~970. Eruption forming Monte Pizzillo, a large pyroclastic cone on the Northeast Rift. Part of this cone was removed by violent explosive activity during the 1879 eruption (Tanguy et al., 1999)

1000 +/-50 yr. Eruption on the ENE flank, close to the northern rim of the Valle del Bove (Serra delle Concazze), building the cone of Monte Rinatu. The original eruptive fissure seems to have opened across the Valle del Bove rim as is evident from a scoria rampart on the inner wall of the Valle del Bove. The pyroclastic deposit has a radiocarbon age of 980 +/-6 yr (Del Carlo et al., 2004). A lava flow (ri) descended 3.7 km down the upper Pietracannone valley.

1000 +/-50 yr. Eruption on the south flank from two eruptive fissures south of the large cone of Monte Sona, and emplacement of a lava flow (oh) 11.4 km long. This lava flow was dated "A.D. 812" on the 1979 Geological Map of Romano; a paleomagnetic age of A.D. 936-1056 was obtained by Speranza et al. (2006), whereas archeomagnetic dating yielded an age of A.D. 1000 +/-50 yr

1004 (?)

1020 +/-40 yr. Eruption on the lower NE flank emits the broad, 5.4 km long "Scorciavacca" lava flow (sr) on the lower northeastern flank. The lowermost portion of the eruptive fissure is visible at the lower end of the 1865 (Monti Sartorius) lava flow-field. The "Scorciavacca" lava was dated "1651" on the 1979 Geological Map

1044 (?)

1030 +/-40 yr. Large eruption on the SE flank builds the large cone of Monte Ilice and a few smaller cones along an eruptive fissure near the village of Fleri. A large lava flow travelled more than 10 km to the Ionian coast near the village of Stazzo, building a broad lava delta adjacent to the -695 (or -693) lava platform. This lava flow was attributed to the 1329 eruption on the 1979 Geological Map, whereas the true 1329 eruption occurred actually at Monterosso, a little further south.

1060 +/-60 yr. Eruption on the WSW flank builds the cones of Monte Gallo and Monte Testa, between 1500 and 1600 m altitude, emitting a lava flow (lw) 9.9 km long. This eruption probably coincides with an event, mentioned by historical records, sometime between 1062 and 1064. On the 1979 Geological Map this lava flow is attributed to an eruption in 1595 (based on the first Geological Map, of Sartorius von Waltershausen, 1844-1859); however, contemporaneous historical records do not mention an eruption in 1595 at all.

1120 +/-30 yr. Eruption on the western flank, emitting a lava flow (gl) that crops out near the Galvarina mountain hut.

1150 +/-30 yr. Eruption on the western flank (1450 m), building the small cone of Monte Arso (with two spectacular nested craters), just to the west of the older and larger Monte Lepre, and emitting a lava flow (ar) 3.5 km long.

1157

1160 +/-20 yr. Eruption on the lower south flank, from a fissure located between 460 and 360 m elevation, making this the lowermost flank eruption of Etna in historical time. Activity occurs from two main fissures, one building a spatter rampart known as Monte Cicirello, the other a small cone named Monti Arsi di S. Maria. A lava flow (sm) travels 8.5 km and enters into the sea north of the town of Catania, in the Guardia-Ognina area, creating a broad lava delta. This lava flow has previously been ascribed to an eruption in August 1381 (Romano et al., 1979), and more recently (Guidoboni ...) to the year 1224. Both the lava flow and the source fissures are now densely urbanized.

1164

February 1169 (?). This eruption is probably a confusion with the devastating tectonic earthquake that shook eastern Sicily at about the same time, causing at least 15,000 deaths

1180 +/-30 yr. Eruption on the NE flank, at 1380-1160 m elevation, building a row of small scoria and spatter cones. A lava flow (li) travels 8.7 km to near the present-day town of Linguaglossa (which at the time was either not existing or just a small hamlet). This lava flow has previously been attributed to an eruption in 1566 by Romano et al. (1979), but the real 1566 lava flow descended further to the west

1194

1200 +/-30 yr. Eruption very close to the 1060 +/-60 yr eruption site (Monte Gallo - Monte Testa) on the WSW flank at 1550 m elevation, building a new cone named Monte Forno. A lava flow (of) travels 9.1 km to the SW. Also this lava flow was attributed on the 1979 Geological Map to an eruption in 1595, which is now known not to have taken place

1222

1250 +/-20 yr. Emission of a lava flow (tl) from a fissure at 1990-1910 m elevation on the south flank, near Piano Vetore. Much of this lava is buried under more recent flows. This flow has been previously ascribed to an eruption in 1536 on the 1979 Geological Map

1250 +/-20 yr. Eruption on the SW flank building the cone of Monte Nero degli Zappini along an eruptive fissure at 2000-1800 m elevation. A lava flow (za) travels 3.7 km. The 1979 Geological Map assigned the date "1537" to this eruption.

1270 +/-20 yr. Eruption on the south flank, building the little cone of Montarello at about 900 m elevation north of the town of Pedara. The lava flow (lq) was attributed to an eruption in 1444 on the 1979 Geological Map

1285. Eruption on the eastern flank, possibly from vents in the Valle del Bove, which are now buried under younger lavas. A large lava flow extends far down the eastern flank to near the present-day village of Macchia, close to Giarre. Much of this lava is now densely covered with vegetation and urbanization

June-August 1329. Eruption on the southeastern flank building the cone of Monterosso (near the present-day village of the same name) at 520 m elevation; lava flow 5.6 km long causes damage in area to the west of Acireale. This lava flow has previously been ascribed to an eruption in 1334 (1979 Geological Map), whereas the 1329 eruption was believed to have come from Monte Ilice, a cone that actually formed around 1030

1350

1350 +/-50 yr. Eruption on the NW flank, emitting the "Rifugio Monte Maletto" lava flow (rm) that crops out locally north of Monte Scavo

5 August 1381 (?). An eruption allegedly occurred low on the south flank producing a lava flow that entered the sea near Ognina (Catania). The lava flow ascribed to this eruption on the 1979 Geological Map was erupted around 1160. No products of an eruption in 1381 have been identified.

8-25(?) November 1408. Eruption on the southeastern flank (north of Monte Arso), lava destroys Pedara and parts of Trecastagni. The still outcropping lava flow is about 6-7 km long. Other lavas attributed to this eruption on the 1979 Geological Map are of two older eruptions: about A.D. 350 (in the Viagrande-San Giovanni La Punta area), and about A.D. 450 (in the Monte Arso-Trecastagni area)

1444 (?). Eruption reported on the southern flank, but no products of an eruption of that age have been identified.

September 1446. Eruption on the eastern flank (Valle del Bove) produces a broad lava flow that exits the Valle del Bove near Zafferana

1493-

1535 (?). Eruption on the SW flank, ascribed to Monte Nero degli Zappini on the 1979 Geological Map, but that crater is now known to have erupted around 1250

March-April 1536. Eruption from a fissure between 1550 and 1410 m elevation on the south flank, north of Monte Manfrè. The eruption causes damage, and one man is reportedly killed near the eruptive vents. Some of this lava crops out downslope of Monte Sona. The upper portion of a large lava flow on the northwestern flank, dated "1536" on the 1979 Geological Map, was probably erupted in 1607, while its lower portion is of about A.D. 950 (Tanguy et al., 1999). A lava flow in the Monte Nero degli Zappini-Monte Vetore area, dated "1536" on the 1979 Geological Map, was dated at about 1250 by Tanguy et al. (1999).

March-July 1537. Eruption on the southern flank from eruptive vents lying at 1840-1780 m elevation, and largely buried under 1892 lava. The eruption produces a large lava flow, possibly more than 10 km long, that destroys the village of Nicolosi.

July 1540

July? 1541

1554 (?)

November 1566. Eruption on the NE flank from multiple fissure segments between 2000 and 1250 m elevation, lava flow to north causes damage in the Solicchiata area. The lavas of this eruption have been ascribed on the 1979 Geological Map to an eruption in 1643.

9 September 1579 to 1580 (?) Eruption on the southeastern (?) flank, damage. No products of an eruption of that age have been identified.

1595 (?) The "Gallo Bianco" lava flow (now known to be two distinct flows from eruptions in 1060 +/-60 yr and 1200 +/-30 yr) was ascribed to an eruption in 1595 on the 1979 Geological Map. No products of an eruption in that year have been found, and no original sources describe an eruption at this time.

Note: From 1600 onward, the historical record of Etna's eruptions is reasonably complete, at least as far as flank eruptions are concerned. Yet, the distribution of lava flows and even the sites of a few eruptions (e.g., 1607, 1610, 1651-1653, and 1689) are still matter to revision (Tanguy et al., 1999) and discussed in italic font for the respective events. The record of summit activity is still much less complete. For example, very little description is given of the summit activity that followed the 1669 eruption and collapse of the summit cone, which must have been quite intense given that at the beginning of the 18th century a substantial new cone had built at the summit. Even during the late 1950s to mid 1960s, a period of continuous and vigorous summit eruptions, documentation in the scientific literature is poor, so that many events can be reconstructed only on the base of contemporary newspaper reporting!

July 1603 to 1610. Summit eruptions with lava overflows in 1607 and 1610

28 June 1607. Eruption on the northwestern flank, above Monte Spagnolo (?). An eruption in 1607 is also said in many sources to have taken place on the southwestern flank, and a lava flow dated "1607" is shown in the 1979 Geological Map. That flow is actually of the 1610 eruption (Tanguy et al., 1999)

6 February-August 1610. Eruption on the southwestern flank (2350-1950 m), above Adrano; damage in forested areas (Pineta "La Sciambrita") and to vineyards. Lava flows were emitted from two fissures, a higher one starting on 6 Feb, and a lower one starting on 3 May; the total length of the lava field is 11 km. The lava flow field includes the lava attributed to an eruption in 1607 on the 1979 Geological Map, based on palaeomagnetic study by Tanguy et al. (1999). Lava volume: 120 x 106 m3

July 1614 until 1624. Etna's longest and most voluminous historical flank eruption, on the northern and northwestern flank. Most of the eruptive fissure is buried under younger lavas, but two larger cones (i due Pizzi) remain visible. Much of the enormous lava field (also known as the "Lava dei Dammusi") is pahoehoe and contains several spectacular lava tubes, including the ice-filled Grotta del Gelo. In spite of its sheer size and duration, this eruption is not known to have caused damage, since the lava did not extend far downslope (maximum length: 8.9 km) but individual flows piled up one upon each other. Lava volume: more than one cubic kilometer (1 km3)

1633 (?). Earthquakes cause damage in Nicolosi; possibly no eruption

~1630. Eruption on the NW flank from a fissure at 2250 m elevation, emitting "Val di Cannizzola" (vz or vy) lava flow. Another small lava flow located higher upslope was erupted from a fissure just below Punta Lucia.

December 1634 to 1636 (some sources say, until April 1638). Eruption on the southeastern and SSE flank, forming a row of hornitos along a short fissure at 2090-1975 m elevation; lava flow up to 9.3 km long causes damage in the area above Zafferana and threatens the village of Fleri. Lava volume: 150 x 106 m3

February 1643. Eruption on the NNE flank, not far from the site of the much larger Monte Nero eruption three-and-a-half years later. This is probably one of the smallest flank eruptions of Etna (possibly with a lava volume of no more than 1 x 106 m3), although some of its lavas lie buried below the 1646-1647 flow from Monte Nero.

November 1646 until January 1647. Eruption on the NNE flank (Monte Nero), possibly several villages were destroyed. Lava volume: 190 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 7 x 106 m3

January 1651 to 1653. Eruption on the western flank, lava partially destroys Bronte and causes damage. The lava flow-field has many areas of ropy pahoehoe, a rather rare lava type on Etna. Lava volume: 500 x 106 m3. An eruption is also reported to have occurred in 1651 on the northeastern flank ("Lava di Scorciavacca"), but the corresponding lava flow shown in the Geological Map (Romano et al., 1979) is reported by Tanguy et al. (1999) to have been erupted around A.D. 1020, while a lava flow attributed to the 1689 eruption in the Geological Map might actually be of 1651

1654-1656. Summit eruptions

11 March to 15 July 1669. Etna's most devastating eruption, and one of its most violent and most voluminous historical flank eruptions. Pre-eruption seismicity destroys Nicolosi, then a fissure splits open from the summit down to the area immediately to the northwest of Nicolosi where a large pyroclastic cone (Monti Rossi) forms. Lava flows destroy up to 16 villages, among them Belpasso, S. Pietro Clarenza, Mascalucia, Camporotondo, Misterbianco, and partially S. Giovanni Galermo. The lava flow breaks through the city walls of Catania in two places and destroys several buildings, and enters the sea on the southern margin of the city where it forms a delta about 1.5 km wide. About two weeks after the beginning of the eruption the summit cone collapses. - In spite of the extensive damage caused by the eruption, there were no deaths, and much of the city of Catania remained intact. Lava volume: more than 600 x 106 m3 (Branca et al., 2012); tephra volume: 80 x 106 m3 (Mulas et al., 2012)

September 1682. Eruption on eastern side of the summit

1688. Eruption east of the summit

March 1689. Eruption on the eastern flank (Valle del Bove). Lava comes close to the village of Macchia, and several smaller villages were destroyed (doubtful reports); 4 people killed at an advancing lava front. A lava flow attributed to this eruption is shown in the Geological Map by Romano et al. (1979), but was palaeomagnetically dated at about 1650 or A.D. 750 (Tanguy et al., 1999) and might correspond to the Valle del Bove eruption reported for 1651

December 1693 to November 1694. Summit activity. No eruption occurred at the time of the devastating tectonic earthquakes of January 1693 which killed up to 60,000 people, including two-thirds of the population of Catania

March-May 1702. Eruption on the eastern flank. The distribution of lava is unknown

1723-1724, 1723-1733, 1735-1736, 1744-1745, 1747-1749, 1752-1758: Activity at the summit, building a new summit cone in the place of the collapse crater formed in 1669

March 1755. Eruption on the eastern flank; the beginning of the eruption causes a lahar (meltwater flood/mudflow) that rushes down through the Valle del Bove and reaches the sea. Nothing is known about the extent of the lava flows, but the eruption was probably a minor event

1758-1759. Activity at the summit

6 February to 15 March 1763. Eruption on the western flank, forming the two cones Monte Mezza Luna and Monte Nuovo. Tanguy (1981) states that Monte Mezza Luna is older than 1763. Lava volume: 15 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 2 x 106 m3

18 June to 10 September 1763. Eruption on the southern flank, building the large cone Montagnola. The eruption is unusually explosive, and most of the lava forms a thick flow-field of many superposed, short flow lobes up to 1 km long. The lower part of the flow-field is buried under younger lavas. Lava volume: 65 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 35 x 106 m3

1764-1765. Eruption on the northwestern flank, forming a fan-shaped lava field extending down to about 1580 m elevation. The vents probably lay quite high on the NE Rift.

17 April to 6 November 1766. Eruption on the southern flank, building the cones named Monti Calcarazzi, south of the Montagnola (in 1892, the much larger Monti Silvestri were built up a short distance downslope). The eruption threatens Nicolosi. Lava volume: 115 x 106 m3; tephra volume: at least 1 x 106 m3

1767, 1770 (?), 1776: Activity at the summit

20 April to June 1780. Eruption on the SSW flank, between Monte Nero and Monte Nero degli Zappini. Lava flows towards the Ragalna area. This eruption is characterized by a very low degree of explosivity, building up only small spatter cones. Lava volume: 20 x 106 m3

1781. Summit activity

early June to mid-August 1787. One of the most spectacular summit eruptions on record; lava fountains reportedly rose up to 3000 m high. Lava flows extended several kilometers towards west and southwest, and possibly in other directions. The activity was probably similar to the summit eruptions in 1960 and 1964

February-September 1791. Summit activity

March-May 1792. Summit activity

25 May 1792 to late May 1793. Eruption on the ESE flank (Valle del Bove) and southeastern flank (outside the Valle del Bove). Lava comes close to Zafferana and causes damage to cultivated areas. Lava volume: 90 x 106 m3

1797-1801. Summit activity. By this time the summit cone reached an elevation of about 3300 m, much the same as it is today. Growth since then has been lateral rather than vertical

November 1802. Eruption on the eastern flank (Valle del Bove). Lava volume: 7 x 106 m3

1802-1809. Summit activity

27 March to 9 April 1809. Eruption on the northeastern flank, damage. Lava volume: 30 x 106 m3

1810. Summit activity

27 October 1811 to May 1812. Eruption on the eastern flank (Valle del Bove), forming Monte Simone, lava threatens Milo, possibly causes damage. Lava volume: 35 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 3 x 106 m3

1816 (?). An eruption offshore Acicastello? (doubtful)

27 May to 1 August 1819. Eruption on the eastern flank (Valle del Bove). Lava volume: 50 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 4 x 106 m3

1822, 1827, 1828-1832: Summit activity

31 October to 22 November 1832. Eruption on the western flank, lava flow comes close to the town of Bronte and causes damage to cultivated areas. Possibly several people killed in this eruption, but this is mentioned only in one source. Lava volume: 50 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 3 x 106 m3

1833, 1838-1839, 1842: Summit activity, with lava flowing several kilometers downslope, especially in 1842

17-28 November 1843. Eruption on the western flank, from a spectacular fissure close to the 1832 vents. Lava flows through cultivated land south of Bronte. A sudden explosion caused by evaporation of a water body covered with lava kills 59 people and injures many others. Lava volume: 55 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 3 x 106 m3

20 August 1852 to 27 May 1853. Eruption on the eastern flank (Valle del Bove), building two large cinder cones named Monti Centenari (in honor of the patron of Catania, Sant'Agata, who was martyred in 252 A.D.). Heavy ash falls are reported, and lava flows come very close to Zafferana and cause damage. Lava volume: 120 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 12 x 106 m3

1857, 1863, 1864: Summit activity

30 January to 28 June 1865. Eruption on the northeastern flank, building the cones named Monti Sartorius (or Sartorio; in honor of Sartorius von Waltershausen who intensely studied Etna in the mid-19th century). Lava caused damage to cultivated land. Lava volume: 90 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 4 x 106 m3

1868. Summit eruption with lava flows extending downslope

26 September 1869. Eruption from vents on the eastern side of the summit cone, lava flowed into Valle del Bove

August 1874. Summit activity

29-31 August 1874. Eruption on the upper northern flank. Lava volume: 2 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 1 x 106 m3

1878-1883. Summit activity. During this period:

26 May to 7 June 1879. Eruption on the NNE and SSW flanks (a rare case of a "bilateral" eruption). Very strong explosive activity on the NNW flank blasts two huge craters out of the eastern and northeastern side of Monte Pizzillo, which itself might have formed around A.D. 970. These craters are much more conspicuous than those named "Umberto e Margherita", which are commonly attributed to this eruption but are probably of the 1809 eruption (Tanguy, 1979). Heavy tephra falls affects the northern sector of the volcano. Lava on the northern flank comes close to the village of Passopisciaro, causes damage to cultivated land, and stops only 0.6 km from the Alcantara river. On the SSW flank, eruptive activity lasts only very briefly and produces two minor lava flows. Total lava volume: 23 x 106 m3; tephra volume (entirely from the NNE flank): more than 30 x 106 m3

22-24 March 1883. Eruption on the southern flank, after intense seismicity and the formation of a fracture system extending from the summit to about 1000 m elevation. The eruption builds a row of very small cones, the largest of which is named Monte Leone. Lava volume: 0.01 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 0.1 x 106 m3

1884-1885. Summit activity

18 May to 7 June 1886. Eruption on the southern flank, following a powerful summit explosion. The eruption builds a row of cones, the largest of which is named Monte Gemmelaro (in honor to the family of volcanologists from Catania who studied Etna during the first half of the 19th century). Lava comes very close to Nicolosi, now a part of the town is built on that lava. Lava volume: 51 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 10 x 106 m3

1891. Summit activity

June 1892. Summit activity

8 July to 29 December 1892. Eruption on the southern flank, south of Montagnola and north of Monte Gemmelaro, forming the spectacular row of pyroclastic cones named Monti Silvestri (in honor of the Italian volcanologist of the 19th century). This is the last strongly explosive flank eruption for more than 100 years (except for the 1974 eruption on the western flank, which, however, affects a sparsely populated area). Lava flows towards Nicolosi but without coming very close. Lava volume: 145 x 106 m3; tephra volume: 5 x 106 m3 (this is probably an underestimate, since the pyroclastic cones of the Monti Silvestri alone are much larger than Monte Gemmellaro, formed six years earlier)

1893-1898. Summit activity; lava effusion within the Central Crater observed as early as July 1893

19 July to 5 August 1899. Powerful explosions from the summit crater

November 1899. Beginnning of renewed summit activity that continued into the 20th century


 

Click here to see the list of eruptions since 1900

References

Romano R, Sturiale C (1982) The historical eruptions of Mt. Etna (Volcanological data). Memorie della Società Geologica Italiana 23: 75-97.

Romano R, Sturiale C, Lentini F (coordinators) (1979) Geological map of Mount Etna (scale 1:50,000). S.EL.CA. Firenze (made available in: Memorie della Società Geologica Italiana 23, 1982 and out of print long since).

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