Etna update, 19 July 2011


Lava fountain and lava flow from the active crater on the east flank of the old, inactive cone of the Southeast Crater (at left), seen from Trecastagni at about 0130 h GMT on 19 July 2011. Photo taken by Boris Behncke, INGV-Catania

A new paroxysm at the Southeast Crater of Etna

On the evening of 18 July 2011, Strombolian activity increased at the crater located on the east flank of the Southeast Crater cone, and culminated in a new paroxysmal eruptive episode between 0000 and 0230 GMT (= local time -2) on 19 July. As the previous five paroxysms, this episode produced a lava flow that spilled down the steep western slope of the Valle del Bove, following the same path as the lavas emitted during the preceding eruptive episodes, and stagnating at the base of the slope near Monte Centenari. Lava fountains rose up to 200-250 m high, producing heavy fallout of fluid spatter, resulting in the formation of several rheomorphic lava flows, the largest of which descended the south flank of the cone surrounding the crater, and reached its base. A dense plume of gas and ash was blown eastward by the wind.

This has been the sixth paroxysmal episode from the same crater since the beginning of this year (the previous episodes had occurred on 12-13 January, 18 February, 10 Aprio, 12 May, and 9 July); the interval between the latest two has been only 9.5 days, much shorter than the intervals between the preceding events (4-8 weeks). During the day of 18 July, activity within the Bocca Nuova had diminished notably, after one week of intense Strombolian activity and the emission of a small intracrater lava flow.

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