Powerful explosions at Stromboli volcano, strongest since 2007, Italy


At least two powerful explosions took place at Stromboli volcano, Italy on July 3, 2019. The events were preceded by lava spills from all active mouths. One person has been killed.

The activity at the volcano suddenly increased at 14:46:10 UTC with one of the largest paroxysms in recent years, affecting the central-southern area of the Stromboli crater terrace. Two main explosive events were detected at 14:46:10 and 14:46:40 UTC, respectively.

The sequence was preceded by lava spills from all active mouths at 14:44 UTC, INGV reports.

A strong intensity explosion took place at 15:16 UTC, producing an ash column up to 2 km (1.2 miles) above the summit, dispersing in a SW direction.

This is certainly the strongest explosion at Stromboli since March 2007, INGV's Boris Behncke said.

Products generated by paroxysm have fallen down along the sides of the volcano, causing a series of fires.

Along with several major explosions, monitoring networks recorded 20 minor explosive events.

The tremor signal is now decreasing.

According to volcanologist Dr. Tom Pfeiffer, panic was reported to have broken out among some residents in the village of Ginostra (which is at only 2 km / 1.2 miles horizontal distance from the crater), but there are no reports of injuries. 

"A newspaper article mentioned that some tourists fled into the sea and there are talks about the evacuation of the island, although the situation is not clear at the moment," Pfeiffer said.


Civil protection authorities said one hiker was killed after molten material ignited a series of fires.

The Italian news agency ANSA said the eruption sent about 30 tourists jumping into the sea for safety.

One of the witnesses said people in the town of Ginostra barricaded themselves in houses or threw themselves into the sea.

Geological summary

Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at this volcano have long attracted visitors to the "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean."

Stromboli, the NE-most of the Aeolian Islands, has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout much of historical time. The small, 924-m-high (3 031 feet) island is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island.

The Neostromboli eruptive period from about 13 000 to 5 000 years ago was followed by formation of the modern Stromboli edifice. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a prominent horseshoe-shaped scarp formed about 5 000 years ago as a result of the most recent of a series of slope failures that extend to below sea level.

The modern volcano has been constructed within this scarp, which funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded for more than a millennium. (GVP)

Featured image credit: marco ortenzi (@mortenzi)

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