Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology

Etna Decade Volcano, Italy
Eruption update:
5-14 June 2000
All times are local (GMT+2 h)

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Photos of the 1 June 2000 paroxysm:
The view from near the Bocca Nuova

Video captures by Patricia Holding (U.K.)

1 June 2000
1 June 2000
1 June 2000
1 June 2000
1 June 2000
1 June 2000

This series of images captured from digital video was taken on 1 June 2000 at about 1000 h from a point near the Bocca Nuova (which lies behind the rounded crest at right in the images) where a group of tourists had arrived with mountain guides from Piano Provenzana. At the sudden onset of the paroxysmal eruptive activity at the SE Crater (which itself is not visible here because it lies behind the crest visible in the center) the guides told the tourists to leave, although the group was on the upwind side of the eruption column and therefore at very low risk. These images show the tourists retreating and the uprise of a brilliantly red lava fountain to many hundred meters above the SE Crater. Mrs. Holding explained that the guides acted in a highly responsible manner - "the group was intentionally upwind because the guides had arranged the expedition so that they were as safe as possible". The tourists left the site rapidly, but without much fear, Mrs. Holding points out.

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The Etna telecamera is maintained by the "Sistema Poseidon" and there is no relationship of any kind with this site and its author. The Poseidon web site is in Italian, and the link to the telecamera is changed frequently, so that it is not indicated here (click on "Etna live cam" on the Poseidon home page). Please note also that all information provided on the present page (and the archived Etna news pages) is informal, based on personal observations, and is not intended to substitute, or compete with, the news bulletins now issued regularly at the Poseidon web site.

WARNING: Access to the summit area is VERY DANGEROUS. Violent eruptive episodes are occurring every few days at the Southeast Crater, and heavy showers of tephra (including clasts tens of centimeters in diameter) may occur up to several kilometers away. Lava may also arrive rapidly at up to 1.5 km of distance from the crater on the plain between Torre del Filosofo, Monte Frumento Supino, and the summit crater cones. The Torre del Filosofo area, which is familiar to many excursionists, is presently not a safe place at all. Tourists are presently not allowed to go beyond 2700 m elevation, and they should make excursions only with the mountain guides. Besides this, weather conditions are often unstable. Strong wind, snow or rain and clouds are occuring frequently in the summit area, even during the summer, and one can get easily lost. The mountain guides can be contacted at the cable car (near the Rifugio Sapienza) on the southern side of Etna, or (during the summer) at the hotel "Le Betulle" at Piano Provenzana, on the northern side.

14 June 2000 update. After six days of quiet, a new paroxysmal eruptive episode occurred at the SE Crater on the late forenoon of 14 June. This event had been preceded in characteristic manner by slow lava extrusion from the eruptive fissure on the N flank of the SE Crater cone since the night of 13-14 June. At 0730 h, as Boris Behncke and Pierpaolo Guarnieri (Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche, University of Catania) passed in a train on the E flank of Etna, strong fuming was visible from the N flank fissure and from a lava flow extending from there towards NE over a distance of about 200 m. Mild Strombolian activity resulting in small ash puffs began at about 1000 h, and continued at increasing strength and frequency for the next hour. Shortly after 1100 h, a pulsating lava fountain rose from the summit vent of the crater, which intensified during the next few minutes, and by 1115 h, vigorous lava fountaining was accompanied by the growth of a dense tephra column, which was bent to the NE by strong winds. Like during the preceding eruptive episode on 8 June, lava fountaining occurred along the entire length of the N flank fissure, and shortly before 1130, lava began to pour from vents high on the S flank of the cone, forming several narrow flows that reached the SSW base of the cone within a few minutes. The activity continued vigorously until shortly after 1140 h and then declined very rapidly.
Although no details about the tephra fall sector are currently available, it is likely that the most affected area is on the NE flank of Etna, in the direction of Linguaglossa. This area has received relatively little fallout during the preceding 62 eruptive episodes. During the previous eruptive episode, on the afternoon of 8 June, the town of Randazzo, on the NNW flank of Etna, had been heavily stricken by the fall of ash and lapilli.

Photos of the 5 June 2000 paroxysm:
The view from Acireale

Photos by Giuseppe Scarpinati

5 June 2000
5 June 2000
5 June 2000
5 June 2000

Four views of the ascending eruption column shortly after the onset of the eruptive episode on the morning of 5 June 2000. This view is from the terrace of Scarpinati in Acireale, which allows a commanding view towards the volcano and good observations during many eruptive events

8 June 2000 update. The SE Crater erupted again on the afternoon of 8 June. This 62nd eruptive episode since late January was preceded by minor ash emissions from the summit vent of the crater at about 1530 h, which gradually intensified, the activity becoming Strombolian in character. At about 1600 h the activity culminated with spectacular lava fountains and the generation of a heavily tephra-laden eruption column. The event was plainly visible in daylight from Catania, in spite of weather clouds. The tephra plume was driven to NW, an unusual wind direction. At the beginning of the lava fountaining phase the fall of large bombs and scoriae on the NE slope of the cone was so intense that small pyroclastic avalanches were generated. Lava flowed in a narrow stream over the S lip of the crater, reaching the S base of the cone and extending SW from there. Lava flows presumably also occurred on the N side of the cone. The activity continued vigorously until about 1620 h and then rapidly declined, giving way to forceful ash emissions that continued for another 5 minutes and then became intermittent. All activity was over by about 1635 h.
This latest paroxysm came after 3 days and 9 hours of quiet, a fairly "normal" repose interval in this period.

The 5 June 2000 paroxysm at the SE Crater seen from a military satellite (provided by the Naval European Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Rota, Spain). In these images, which were taken at 0800, 0830 and 0900 h (local time), the circular eruption plume is seen drifting NE, towards the southern tip of Calabria. Interestingly, the tephra fallout from this paroxysm was distributed nearly in the opposite direction, towards S.
A slightly different perspective of the same event is visible in this image captured by Meteosat at 0800 h on 5 June. Note the shadow cast by the plume.

6 June 2000 update. Shortly after the eruptive episode at the SE Crater on the morning of 5 June a light rain of ash fell on Catania. This was much lighter than that of the morning of 1 June, and the size of the falling particles was smaller. Heavier tephra falls occurred in areas closer to the volcano on the S and SSW flank, such as Nicolosi. The eruption column generated by the paroxysm rose at least 3 km above the summit, although some eyewitnesses estimated much greater heights. Bombs and large scoria clasts fell abundantly to the SW of the SE Crater, and also around the Torre del Filosofo building. Charles Rivière observed after the eruption that bombs had fallen quite beyond the building as well.
A minor volume of lava flowed down on the S flank of the SE Crater cone, while significantly more lava ran in several streams towards the Valle del Leone and Valle del Bove.
On the evening of 5 June, Giuseppe Scarpinati (Italian delegate of the French Assiciation Volcanologique Européenne "L.A.V.E" and resident in Acireale) observed a very small lava flow issuing from the fissure on the N flank of the SE Crater cone. As of noon on 6 June the SE Crater remained quiet.

Photos of the 1 June 2000 paroxysm:
The view from Catania

Photos by Boris Behncke

1 June 2000
1 June 2000

The plume from the 1 June 2000 morning eruptive episode of the SE Crater is here seen drifting over the center of Catania, shortly after the end of the paroxysm. Shortly after these photos were taken, fine-grained lapilli rained down onto the city and its surroundings

Photos of the 1 June 2000 paroxysm:
The view from the NE flank of Etna

Photos by Theo Verbeek, Vlaardingen (The Netherlands)

1 June 2000
1 June 2000
1 June 2000
1 June 2000
1 June 2000

Paroxysmal eruptive episode at the SE Crater (which itself is not visible in these images) on the morning of 1 June 2000, seen from near the Rifugio Citelli (NE flank of Etna). These photos were kindly supplied by Theo Verbeek from the Netherlands

5 June 2000 update. Three days and 9 hours after the previous paroxysm, the SE Crater produced its 61st eruptive episode since 26 January. Like its predecessors, this new paroxysm was preceded since the early morning hours of 6 June by the emission of lava from the eruptive fracture on the N flank of the SE Crater cone. Between 0600 and 0650 h the effusion rate increased exponentially, and a dense plume of yellowish-white gas rose from the vents. At 0650, gas was emitted also from the summit vent of the crater, and at about 0655 the emissions became mixed with ash. A few minutes before 0700, the activity entered into the paroxysmal phase, with lava fountains, and the generation of a dense tephra column. While much of the coarse grained fallout occurred to the SW of the cone (due to a northeasterly wind at the elevation of Etna's summit), the higher, more dilute portion of the plume was slowly driven towards NE, and possibly some tephra fall occurred in that sector, most probably in the area of the town of Fiumefreddo. The plume, which was distinctly visible on satellite imagery, then drifted towards the southern tip of Calabria. However, some tephra may have been carried SW by the wind at about 3300 m elevation, and lapilli may have fallen in the area between Adrano and Paternò.
This paroxysm lasted only little more than 15 minutes, considerably shorter than its predecessors, which all lasted about 30 minutes.

Several other web pages covering the recent and ongoing eruptions of the Southeast Crater are now available; these contain photos and movie clips of some of the most spectacular moments of that period.

Etna in 2000 - a list of all paroxysms at the SE Crater since 26 January and photos (this site)

Extremely spectacular video clips, taken by British cameraman and film maker David Bryant on 15 February 2000
At "Italy's Volcanoes" -
At Stromboli On-line

An interview with Boris Behncke, made in late February 2000 by a BBC team and a video clip (RealPlayer)

Photos of the eruptive activity, 15-23 February 2000, by Tom Pfeiffer (University of Arhus, Denmark)

Photos of an eruptive episode on 13 February 2000, posted on the web site of the Association Volcanologique Européenne, Paris, France

Photos of the 15 February 2000 paroxysm of the SE Crater, by Thorsten Boeckel, Germany

Photos by Marco Fulle, 15-20 February 2000, at Stromboli On-line - very high quality, as usual

Charles Rivière's Etna home page, with many photos and video clips (the most recent of the paroxysm of 5 May 2000), frequent updates, and other, highly interesting items (in French and English)

visitors counted since 12 February 1999
This page received 4362 hits during the week of 24-30 October 1999. 4430 hits were counted the week after.

Visitor statistics in February-May 2000:
01-05 February: 2189 (438 per day)
26 March-1 April: 8205 (1172 per day!)
06-12 February: 4170 (596 per day)
3-9 April: 6046 (864 per day)
13-19 February: 6498 (928 per day)
10-16 April: 5363 (766 per day)
20-26 February: 4988 (712 per day)
17-23 April: 4827 (689 per day)
27 February-04 March: 5327 (767 per day)
24-30 April: 4916 (702 per day)
05-11 March: 4103 (586 per day)
1-7 May: 5679 (811 per day)
12-18 March: 3942 (563 per day)
8-14 May: 6436 (919 per day)
19-25 March: 6992 (999 per day)
15-21 May: 6573 (939 per day)

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Page set up on 27 May 1997, last modified on 14 June 2000
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