Lava flow eruption at Etna, tremor at high levels and rising, Italy

lava flow etna may 12, 2022

An eruptive fracture opened on the northern flank of Etna’s Southeast Crater on the evening of May 12, 2022, after a series of ash emissions.

This led to the production of a small lava flow whose front reached the northern base of the crater.

The flow is still active and producing ash- and steam-rich plumes, as of early Saturday morning, May 14.

lava flow etna may 12, 2022
Image credit: INGV-OE
lava flow etna may 12, 2022
Image credit: INGV-OE

The Aviation Color Code was raised from Green to Yellow at 17:31 UTC and to Orange at 18:47.

Rising tremor levels accompany this activity, currently at high values.

The source of the tremor is located below the Southeast Crater at an altitude of about 3 km (1.8 miles) above sea level.

etna tremor may 7 - 14 2022
Image credit: INGV-OE

Since the start of the year, Etna has produced two paroxysmal eruptive episodes – on February 10 and 21.2

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.3

References:

1 Comunicato Etna – INGV-OE – May 12, 2022

2 Strong eruption at Etna, Aviation Color Code raised to Red, Italy – The Watchers – February 21, 2022

3 Etna – Geological summary – GVP

Featured image credit: INGV-OE

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