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NE Crater, January 1978

A towering eruption column is rising from the erupting NE Crater, one morning in January 1978, as the crater produces one of many paroxysmal eruptive episodes in a series that began in July 1977 and is to last until late-March 1978. This view is from the SE and shows the snow-covered Valle del Bove in the foreground. Photo by Carmelo Sturiale

The 1974-1978 NE Crater eruptions

Stage 1: Persistent Strombolian and effusive activity
from the NE Crater and nearby fissures - September 1974 to January 1977

Silent since early April 1971, the NE Crater reawakens with initial vent-clearing explosions on 29 September 1974, and two days later, mild Strombolian activity begins to build a small cone within the crater. This photo was taken by Giuseppe Scarpinati on 1 October 1974 and shows the new cone in the moment of an explosion ejecting incandescent bombs. The photo was taken from the rim of the crater
NE Crater, October 1974
NE Crater, October 1974 NE Crater, October 1974 NE Crater, October 1974
Photos taken by Giuseppe Scarpinati of the NE Crater in eruption on 13 October 1974, two weeks after its reawakening. Left: Explosion from vent on the S crater rim, ejecting incandescent bombs and a small ash plume. Center: NE Crater in Strombolian activity at sunset, probably seen from the N rim of the Bocca Nuova. Right photo is a classical night view of Strombolian and effusive activity at the NE Crater
NE Crater, February 1975
More than four months after its reawakening, the NE Crater continues to display Strombolian activity from its summit vent (at right) and slow lava effusion from a vent on its western (?) flank (left foreground). Its cone has grown significantly in this period. Photo taken by Giuseppe Scarpinati on 2 February 1975.
April 1975 December 1975 December 1975
New eruptive vents become active on 25 February 1975 near Punta Lucia, about 2 km to the NW of the NE Crater. Top left photo shows a large hornito formed around one of these vents, photographed on 6 April 1975 by Giuseppe Scarpinati. The two conspicuous cones in the left background are two large hornitos formed in the 17th century, known as the "due Pizzi" or "Fratelli Pii". - Another fissure forms on 29 November 1975 a bit further downslope to the N, where several spatter cones form (top center photo, with Giuseppe Scarpinati in the foreground, taken on 3 December 1975). The two photos at right show spatter cones growing along the eruptive fissure of 29 November 1975, seen here on 28 December 1975. Persons in the foreground of upper photo indicate scale. Photos by Giuseppe Scarpinati. December 1975
NE Crater, January 1976
Left: Strombolian activity and lava effusion from the partially collapsed NE Crater on 5 January 1976, during a lull in the activity of the 29 November 1975 fissure. Activity alternated frequently between these two eruption sites during 1975-1976. Photo by Giuseppe Scarpinati.
Right: Ash emission, possibly caused by collapse, at the NE Crater in June 1976, photographed by Giuseppe Scarpinati. Collapse occurred at this crater during effusive activity from the 29 November 1975 fissure.
NE Crater, June 1976
NE Crater, July 1977 NE Crater, July 1977
Two photos of the interior of the NE Crater in (early?) July 1977, during a period of repose. Much of the large cone formed earlier during the activity initiated in September 1974 has collapsed, and the crater has become a vast pit. No activity has occurred since January 1977, but only a few days later, on 16 July, renewed eruptive activity occurs at this crater, initiating a series of short-lived but violent paroxysmal eruptive episodes. Photos were taken by Giuseppe Scarpinati.

Stage 2: Paroxysmal eruptions from the NE Crater - July 1977 to March 1978

# 1 - 16-22 July 1977. Max. length of lava flows: 4 km towards N
# 2 - 5-6 August 1977. Max. length of lava flows: 3 km towards N
# 3 - 14 August 1977. Max. length of lava flows: 4 km towards N
# 4 -
3 November 1977. Max. length of lava flows: 3 km towards NW
# 5 -
7-8 November 1977
# 6 -
14-15 November 1977
# 7 -
21-22 November 1977. Max. length of lava flows: 1.5 km
# 8 -
25 November 1977
# 9 -
6 December 1977. Lava flows towards E
# 10 -
10-13 December 1977. Max. length of lava flows: 6 (?) km
# 11 -
18 December 1977
# 12 -
24-25 December 1977. Lava flows towards NW and E
# 13 -
19 December 1977. Lava flows towards NW and N
# 14 -
2-3 January 1978. Lava flows NNW; NE Crater is breached on NW side
# 15 -
4 January 1978.
# 16 -
5 January 1978
# 17 -
7 January 1978. Max. length of lava flows: 5 (?) km
# 18 -
10 January 1978. Lava flow uncertain
# 19 -
25-26 March 1978. Max. length of lava flows: 7 km to the NW and N
# 20 -
17-28 March 1978. Max. length of lava flows: 3 km towards N and NW
Strong explosive activity without lava emission occurred on 29 March 1978, after which the NE Crater remained quiet for 2.5 years (until September 1980)

Data from Tanguy and Patanè, Bull. Volcanol. 47 (1984): 965-976

NE Crater, January 1978 NE Crater, January 1978 NE Crater, January 1978
Between July 1977 and late-March 1978, the NE Crater produces about 20 episodes of paroxysmal eruptive activity, characterized by violent lava fountaining, tephra production, and emission of fast-moving lava flows. The three photos above were taken by Carmelo Sturiale during this period. Left photo shows the NE Crater during a paroxysm in early January (possibly the one that occurred from the late afternoon of 2 January until the morning of the 3rd): lava fountains are rising from several vents, and lava flows from below a breach formed in the NW rim of the crater. Photo at center is a view of Etna from the home of Sturiale in S. Agata li Battiati (a town lying near the N margin of Catania) during another paroxysm of the crater. Right photo is a view of the volcano from E, with the Valle del Bove in the foreground, and the dark summit cones in a moment of quiet. The NE Crater cone (the right of the two dark cones at the summit) is seen to be slightly higher than the steaming main summit cone - thus Etna is gaining height due to the frequent paroxsms at the NE Crater.
NE Crater, March 1978 NE Crater, March 1978 NE Crater, March 1978
Another paroxysm at the NE Crater, this time in late-March 1978, photographed by Carmelo Sturiale. This series of photos was probably taken on or about 25 March 1978, when the crater resumed its activity after about 2 months of silence to produce several paroxysms in few days, the last of the series initiated in July 1977. Left photo is a view from Sturiale's home - note that there is no snow on the mountain after a relatively mild winter, but as will be seen below, the winter was not yet over
NE Crater, March 1978 NE Crater, March 1978 NE Crater, March 1978
Ash and lava are issuing from the NE Crater after a night of fresh snow fall in late March 1978 in the photo at left, taken by Carmelo Sturiale from the N. Center photo is another view of Etna from the home of Sturiale showing relatively mild ash emission from the NE Crater at about the same date. Photo at right shows the NW flank of Etna after more snow has fallen (therefore this photo was taken after the previous two), with the conspicuous cinder cone of Monte Maletto in the foreground. The NE Crater is quiet, but a steaming tongue of lava extends from it towards the center of the photograph.
NE Crater, March 1978 After the latest paroxysm from the NE Crater (this one occurred on 27-28 March 1978), a dark lava flow extends through snow fields to about 7 km distance from its source, the longest flow known to have been produced by a summit eruption of Etna. Left photo was taken from near Randazzo (visible at lower right), on the N side of Etna, right photo from the area of Maletto on the NW side. Photos by Carmelo Sturiale NE Crater, March 1978

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