Stromboli volcano puffs out large, almost-perfect smoke ring, Italy


Italy's Stromboli volcano blew a large, almost-perfect smoke ring on Friday, March 27, 2020. The smoke rose from the crater, slowly drifting northeastwards over the Stromboli village.

"Its near-perfect circular shape and large diameter (100-200 m / 330 – 650 feet (?)) are truly impressive, perhaps the largest I have ever seen or heard of," Dr. Tom Pfeiffer of the Volcano Discovery said.

Such ring vortexes are considered rare, but not unknown– not just on Stromboli, but also on other volcanoes, Pfeiffer added.

Volcanoes generate smoke rings when powerful gas pulses leave a vent with a perfect circular diameter. This produces eddies in the shape of a ring.


Image credit: Barbara Engele via Volcano Discovery

Aside from the astonishing phenomenon, activity at the volcano has been at moderate levels in the previous weeks.

On March 27 it was characterized by scoria-rich explosions reaching very high pressure (4 bar) at the NE crater sector, LGS reports.

Infrasonic degassing had a stable amplitude at a low level. The number of VLP events was at a medium level, but the number may be underestimated due to the bad weather conditions. Tremor amplitude was stable at a medium level. 

Thermal activity was medium and no thermal anomaly was recorded by MODIS images, but this parameter was largely affected by the cloudy conditions. 

The number of rockfalls is showing a medium level (9 events/day). 

Early measures of SO2 flux, based on a few data, showed a low degassing level.

In 24 hours to 08:09 UTC on March 27, the CO2 flux measured is of 658 t/d corresponding to medium level. In 24 hours to 08:40 UTC on March 28, CO2 flux was low at 172 t/d.

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: Barbara Engele via Volcano Discovery

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