Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology

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Movie clips of the 15 February 2000 paroxysm of the Southeast Crater

The following thumbnails are video captures taken from the awesome footage taken by British cameraman David Bryant during the violent paroxysmal eruptive episode at the Southeast Crater on the late afternoon of 15 February 2000. The clips, which you can view by clicking on the thumbnails, show all stages of the event from the initial mild Strombolian activity over the opening of a new eruptive vent on the upper S flank of the SE Crater cone and the culmination of the activity with dramatic high lava fountains, to the abrupt termination of the fountaining and the view of the cone after all activity has ended, covered all over with glowing pyroclastics and lava.
Bryant and his companions (of which several have already posted spectacular photos on their web sites) were standing next to the Torre del Filosofo mountain hut, filming, photographing, and simply observing the activity. The first seven clips were taken from a few meters to the east of the building, while the following ten were taken from behind the sheltering roof of the building, with Bryant standing on top of an accumulation of snow, allowing him to peer over the roof.

The movie files are mpeg files and are of high resolution with good sound quality. File sizes are from 1.5 to 3.5 MB. If your connection to the MTU web server (where "Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology" is hosted) is slow, try to download these movies at Stromboli On-line. You may also facilitate downloading by using a program such as Go!Zilla or GetRight which can be freely obtained from the respective web sites.

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Left: Initial stage of the paroxysm, shortly before 1800 h (local time=GMT+1) on 15 February 2000. The activity consists of intermittent weak Strombolian bursts, and ejecta rarely rise above the crater rim.
Center: As the Strombolian activity from the summit vent of the SE Crater gradually increases, a new vent suddenly bursts open just below the notch in the southern crater rim, and a small pulsating lava fountain becomes active.
Right: Strombolian activity increases further, involving several vents in the summit crater of the SE Crater cone, and the newly opened vent on the upper south flank of the cone.

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Left: A small lava flow begins to flow from the vent on the upper southern flank, while the Strombolian bursts at this vent and in the main vents above continue to increase.
Center: The lava flow from the south flank vent rapidly advances, and forms repeated surges overriding each other; blocks detaching from the flow front roll further downslope.
Right: The Strombolian bursts, which have become more and more frequent and vigorous, are now blending into continuous, pulsating fountains, and bombs begin to fall in an ever larger radius around the erupting vents.

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Left: Suddenly the activity increases dramatically: accompanied by an angry growl from the SE Crater, huge jets of incandescent lava rise ever higher from the erupting vents; these jets are more and more inclined to the south, right towards the Torre del Filosofo, and the group of people standing next to it, watching the spectacle. These people are forced to seek shelter under a small protruding roof on the SE side of the Torre del Filosofo building, in order to escape from a rain of bombs, which lasts only a few seconds.
Center: After the rain of bombs around the Torre del Filosofo has ceased, David Bryant peers over the roof of the building and films the continuing activity. The lava fountains have now stabilized in a huge vertical column, while a broad lava flow exits through a fissure on the southern flank of the cone, and rapidly arrives at the cone's base.
Right: This clip shows some of the dynamics within the fire-fountain rising from the SE Crater at the height of the activity. Note the turbulence, resembling a true flame, in the central part of the column. The height of the fountain is in the range of 500-700 m.

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These three clips all show the ongoing culminating phase of the paroxysm, with varying views ranging from wide-angle to zooms onto the cone, the lava flow, the vents, and the lava fountains. The last of these clips shows a beginning decline in the vigor of the lava fountains.

15 February 2000

Left: The paroxysm ends with the abrupt and complete cessation of fountaining, followed by smaller, isolated bursts of incandescent pyroclastics.
Right: A view of the SE Crater cone after the end of the paroxysm, covered all over with glowing bombs and spatter, with lava still flowing out of the fissure on its southern flank.

15 February 2000
Attention: this clip is about 1:10 min long (6.1 MB!)
Click on any of the thumbnails below to download the movie
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The nine frames above show scenes from the short period when the activity escalated dramatically, that is, at shortly after 1800 h on 15 February 2000. They show the passage from relatively mild lava fountaining to a sudden oblique jet that rises ever higher, until its top arrives right above the Torre del Filosofo and the group of people standing there, observing the eruption. At about the time of the second frame, a loud, angry roar was emitted by the crater, and shortly thereafter, another one, followed by an impressive spray of bombs high above the top of the fountain. In order to capture the whole scene, David zoomed out repeatedly. Yet the fountain rapidly grew larger - so large indeed, that even at a full wide-angle view, the camera did not capture the entire fountain. David then lifted his camera, which was mounted on a tripod, to view the rising top of the fountain (last two frames), and observed that bombs were beginning to fall right in his direction: "Some bombs were not moving - they were just getting bigger." David and his five companions (among whom Marco Fulle, Tom Pfeiffer and Thorsten Boeckel, who posted their still images on various web sites) seeked shelter under a side roof of the Torre del Filosofo building. Seventeen seconds after the fountain reached its maximum height - probably up to 1000 m - bombs began to crash onto the ground around and beyond the building.


Copyright © Boris Behncke, "Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology"

Page set up on 14 March 2000


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