13th eruptive paroxysmal episode at Etna in 30 days, Italy


Etna's 13th eruptive paroxysmal episode since February 16 started late on March 14, 2021. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Red at 22:36 UTC and lowered back to Orange at 07:09 UTC, March 15.

Strombolian activity increased at 20:10 UTC on March 14 and further intensified at around 00:00 UTC on March 15, with lava flows toward Valle del Bove and lava fountains several hundred meters high.

The episode peaked at around 02:00 UTC and then decreased abruptly from around 02:40.

The ash cloud moved to the East but its height was not estimable.

Eruption at Etna volcano on March 15, 2021. Credit: Boris Behncke/INGV

Eruption at Etna volcano on March 15, 2021. Credit: Boris Behncke/INGV

Images below were captured on March 12, during Etna's 12th paroxysm since February 16:

Images courtesy 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: Eruption at Etna volcano on March 15, 2021. Credit: Boris Behncke/INGV


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