Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology

Etna Decade Volcano, Italy
Eruption update:
3 February - 23 March 2001
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Do you plan to visit Etna in the near future?
Check the
weather forecasts for the Etnean area!

NEW: Excursions to the Etna area,
read more here!

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 DANGEROUS. Explosive activity is occurring at the Bocca Nuova, and at times bombs are thrown beyond the crater rims. Lava is also flowing from a vent on the NNE flank of the Southeast Crater cone; in 2000 such lava effusions were a premonitory sign of much more violent activity. However, as of late March 2001, the flow is already active since about eight weeks without any signs of an impending paroxysmal eruption. Guided excursions will resume in the second half of March 2001 and will end at the Torre del Filosofo, at about 2900 m elevation. Tourists should make excursions only with the mountain guides, even though this will not satisfy the wish to see what's going on at close range. Besides this, weather conditions are often unstable during the current winter season. Strong wind, snow or rain and clouds are occuring frequently in the summit area, 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 (phone: 095-914141), or (during the summer) at the hotel "Le Betulle" at Piano Provenzana, on the northern side (phone: 095-643430).

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NOTE. The most recent update (23 March 2001) is at the bottom of this page!

3 February 2001 update. Lava has continued to issue at a very low but persistent rate from a vent on the NNE flank of the Southeast Crater cone since around 20 January. This activity has formed a small field of overlapping and adjacent flows extending only a few hundred meters from the source. On the evening of 1 February, a bright incandescence was observed at the vent, but it seems this was only gas that was illuminated by the extruding lava. Meanwhile Strombolian activity at the Bocca Nuova has undergone a clear increase, with ejecta being thrown above the crater rim. The present activity does not indicate a clear trend towards a paroxysm, but it is evident that the Southeast Crater has changed its behavior since last year when effusive activity from one of the two fractures on its flanks was followed within hours to days by paroxysmal eruptive episodes.

20 February 2001 update. The slow extrusion of lava from a vent on the north-northeastern flank of the Southeast Crater cone, initiated one month ago, is continuing as of 20 February, without showing significant fluctuations or trends. This activity has generated a field of mostly overlapping, and partially adjacent, flow lobes, extending a few hundred meters towards east or southeast. The longest lobes have extended 500 m or more from the source. During a visit to the active vent by Marco Fulle, Jürg Alean (Stromboli On-line) and others on 12 February, the vent had the form of a "tumulus", from which lava issued in a pulsating manner, at times accompanied by vigorous degassing.
Mild eruptive activity has also continued unabated from the Bocca Nuova, where Strombolian bursts have been common at the two vents located in the northwestern and eastern parts of the crater.
The activity was observed in detail by Fulle, Alean and others on 14 February, and the group was able to reach the rim of the northwestern pit. This pit was described as very deep, with three small eruptive vents aligned on its floor. Bombs were thrown as high as the rim of the pit but apparently did not fall outside. The activity at the eastern (or southeastern) pit was more intense, with ejections reaching heights of several hundred meters above the rim of the pit.
The activity of the Bocca Nuova increased somewhat since 18 February, and a pulsating glow could be observed from Catania during the evening of 19 February. Giuseppe Scarpinati (Italian delegate of the "Association Volcanologique Européenne" based in Paris, France - see Alain Catté's Etna web pages), a resident in the town of Acireale to the southeast of Etna, made repeated observations during the night of 19-20 February and reported that the activity underwent significant fluctuations throughout the night and early morning.
Scarpinati also noted a fluctuating glow at the Northeast Crater on the evening of 19 February, which appeared virtually continuous on the early morning of the 20th. This crater had been inactive for many months, and its reactivation together with the increased eruptive activity at the Bocca Nuova and the continuous lava effusion at the Southeast Crater indicates that the central conduit system of Etna is recharging.

1 March 2001 update. Eruptive activity at the summit craters of Etna has continued with some fluctuations through late February, with Strombolian activity at two vents in the Bocca Nuova, deep-seated Strombolian activity within the central pit of the Northeast Crater, and slow lava effusion from a vent on the NNE flank of the Southeast Crater. On the evening of 28 February, the activity appeared particularly intense, and a bright glow was reflected in weather clouds near the summit. Later that evening weather conditions worsened, and the volcano became invisible.
Generally the volcano appears to be in stable conditions; the activity is less vigorous than during the period 1995-2000, but also less dangerous to visitors of the summit area. The effusive activity at the Southeast Crater has not, as many times in 2000, evolved into violent lava fountaining and tephra emission, but is going on quietly since 20 January. At this moment it thus seems that this activity is rather comparable to the long-standing effusive activity near the Southeast Crater in 1999, which was essentially non-explosive and became a tourist attraction. Yet it is occurring in a very remote location, which is close to inaccessible, and it will be difficult to bring tourists there during the forthcoming summer season.

12 March 2001 update. During the first half of March, the mild but at times vigorous eruptive activity at the summit craters has continued much in the same manner as during the preceding weeks. Lava continues to issue at a very slow rate from a vent low on the NNE flank of the Southeast Crater cone, forming short lobes. Explosive (Strombolian) activity is near continuous at the two vents in the Bocca Nuova, and the rumbling of the explosions can be heard to many kilometers away. Weak intracrater Strombolian activity is also occurring intermittently at the Northeast Crater.

23 March 2001 update. Summit eruptive activity has continued without significant changes. Strombolian activity at the two vents in the Bocca Nuova (northwestern and southeastern vents) is virtually continuous and can often be seen with the naked eye at night from Catania and other locations around the volcano. Ejecta commonly fall back into the vents, but occasionally land beyond the rims of the Bocca Nuova to roll down the external slopes of the main summit cone. Lava also continues to flow from a single vent on the lower NNE flank of the Southeast Crater cone, at quite a low rate, forming short lobes which do not extend beyond the margins of the flow field formed since 20 January. The activity is what has become known as "persistent" several decades ago, typical for Etna in periods between flank eruptions, but much less spectacular than what the summit craters produced in the preceding five years.

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)

Etna in 2000 - various pages at Stromboli On-line with photos and movie clips of SE Crater paroxysms and Bocca Nuova gas rings: most photos are of Marco Fulle, the artist photographer among us

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) - scroll to bottom of page

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

Thorsten Boeckel's web site (Germany) with photos and movie clips of several paroxysm of the SE Crater in February, April and June 2000

A small web page reporting on Etna's current activity - and check what happens to your cursor on that page...

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)

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

Page set up on 27 May 1997, last modified on 23 March 2001

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