Strombolian activity resumed at Etna's Southeast crater at 19:05 UTC on March 23, intensified at around 20:30 UTC, and evolved into lava fountaining by 22:00 UTC. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Red at 20:46 UTC on March 23. This is the 16th paroxysmal eruptive episode at Etna since February 16, 2021.
A pyroclastic flow was observed on surveillance cameras and confirmed by INGV personnel at 02:37 UTC on March 24. The flow headed toward the Valle del Bove, reaching a height of about 2 900 m (9 500 feet).
By 05:43 UTC, the volcanic ash column was rising up to 6 km (19 700 feet) above sea level, drifting SE.
Ashfall was reported in Catania and nearby areas.
Lava fountains at Etna volcano on March 23, 2021. Credit: Boris Behncke, INGV
Two lava flows were active as of 06:00 UTC.
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: Lava fountains at Etna volcano on March 23, 2021. Credit: Boris Behncke, INGV