Another eruption at Etna volcano, heavy ash up to 12 km (39 370 feet) a.s.l., Italy

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Etna's 9th paroxysmal eruptive episode since February 16 started at 02:20 UTC on March 4, 2021, followed by several hours of strong strombolian activity and renewed fountaining at 07:50 UTC. 

Lava fountains reached about 500 m (1 640 feet) above the edge of the crater while ash rose up to 12 km (39 370 feet) above sea level.

Effusive activity remained active in the Valle del Bove after lava fountaining was over, with well-powered lava flows.

The volcanic tremor and the extent of infrasonic events remained very high by 09:20 UTC when they started rapidly decreasing.

The Aviation Color Code was raised to Red at 02:28 UTC and lowered back to Orange at 10:16 UTC.

Ash rising above Etna volcano, Italy on March 4, 2021. Credit: Boris Behncke, INGV

Geological summary

Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily's second-largest city, has one of the world's longest documented records of historical 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 (5.1 x 6.2 miles) horseshoe-shaped caldera open to the east.

Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur at Etna. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more of the three prominent summit craters, the Central Crater, NE Crater, and SE Crater (the latter formed in 1978).

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. (GVP)

Featured image credit: Ash rising above Etna volcano, Italy on March 4, 2021. Credit: Boris Behncke, INGV

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