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Violent lava fountains at Etna, ash rises up to 10 km (32 800 feet) a.s.l., Italy

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Increased activity continues at Etna volcano, Italy, with numerous violent paroxysmal eruptive episodes and ash rising up to 10 km (32 800 feet) above sea level. Over the past couple of days, the Aviation Color Code was mostly Red.

Strombolian activity at the Southeast Crater increased again at 23:50 UTC on June 24. This activity gradually evolved into lava fountaining by 01:00 UTC on June 25. A lava overflow was recorded at 01:15 UTC, spreading in an SW direction.

Lava fountaining episode ended at 01:48 UTC but weak Strombolian activity continued.

The eruptive cloud reached a height of about 8.5 km (27 900 feet) above sea level, drifting east of the volcano.

Lava effusion continued at the southeastern side of the Southeast Crater, feeding two main lava flows of which the longest one is at an estimated altitude of 2.7 km (8 860 feet) a.s.l.

Etna volcano on June 25, 2021. Credit: INGV, Boris Behncke

Etna volcano on June 25, 2021. Credit: INGV, Boris Behncke

Etna volcano on June 25, 2021. Credit: INGV, Boris Behncke

Etna volcano on June 25, 2021. Credit: INGV, Boris Behncke

The Aviation Color Code was raised to Red at 09:29 UTC on June 24, during previous paroxysms, and lowered back to Orange at 04:34 UTC today.

A 10 km (32 800 feet) tall eruption column was recorded late afternoon (UTC) on June 24.

Etna volcano on June 24, 2021. Credit: INGV, Boris Behncke

SO2 plume produced by Etna on June 24, 2021. Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2. Processed by Antonio Vecoli/ADAM Platform

Two paroxysmal events were recorded on June 23.

"These are frantic days, there are a lot of incredibly spectacular moments, but this activity poses a certain pressure on us – both the scientists and the Etnean population," said INGV volcanologist Boris Behncke.

Etna volcano on June 23, 2021. Credit: INGV, Boris Behncke

Etna volcano on June 23, 2021. Credit: INGV, Boris Behncke

Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2. Processed by Pierre Markuse. Acquired on June 23, 2021

SO2 plume produced by Etna on June 24, 2021. Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2. Processed by Antonio Vecoli/ADAM Platform

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: Etna on June 25, 2021. Credit: Boris Behncke/INGV

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