The latest update is below this line
29 November 2002 update. The eruption of Mount Etna is continuing on its 34th day without showing signs of abating. Activity continues on the upper southern flank at the large pyroclastic cone, where two or three vents are producing lava fountains and ash columns. On 28 November 2002 a northerly wind drove the ash plume over Catania and once more paralyzed civil aviation; today the plume is oriented southeast. Lava flowing from a vent on the base of the active cone has invaded a forest at about 1750-1800 m elevation on the southwestern flank but appears to have slowed its advance.
November 2002 update.
of Catania and surrounding areas who were still awake at about 01:00
h on 28 November were lightly shaken by a magnitude 3.4 earthquake
whose epicenter lay some 30 km off the coast in the Ionian Sea.
This earthquake is probably not related to the ongoing eruption
at Mount Etna and seismicity on its flanks.
26 November 2002 update. After the dramatic days of the last weekend with lava threatening the tourist facilities around the Rifugio Sapienza on the southern flank of Mount Etna, the eruption is giving the people working there a break. The lava flow that had advanced southward toward the tourist complex has stopped short of the Provincial Road 92, which had been interrupted during the 2001 eruption and seems to be no longer fed. Instead, lava has resumed to flow on top of the earlier, southwest directed flow that had until the weekend threatened the Botanical Garden. Furthermore, explosive activity is now occurring not only at the summit of the huge pyroclastic cone at 2750 m elevation (its summit is actually at around 2900 m altitude) but also from a small vent at the northern base of that cone. This vent was active during the first few days of the eruption in late October and is well visible (inactive) in some of Thorsten Boeckel's spectacular photographs (small steaming vent in the foreground). Impressive photographs of this vent in activity were published in today's issue of the local newspaper "La Sicilia" but so far are not available on the newspaper's web site.
November 2002 update.
the past few days the situation on the southern flank of Mount Etna
has deteriorated significantly. Four weeks after the beginning of
the 2002 eruption, lava flowing from the active cone at 2750 m elevation
has come uncomfortably close to the tourist facilities at 1900 m,
especially to the Rifugio Sapienza and the nearby departure station
of the cable car. Both had survived the 2001 eruption and an earlier
eruption in 1983. Like in 2001, Etna is playing a "cat and
mouse" game, which contrasts with the relentless, rapid devastation
of Piano Provenzana at the beginning
of this eruption. As of early 25 November, the Rifugio Sapienza
and surrounding structures have escaped destruction, also thanks
to earth barriers that have been hastily erected in an effort to
contain the advancing lava and keep it away from the most threatened
buildings. At the same time the level of eruptive activity seems
to have dropped significantly in comparison with the previous days.
21 November 2002 update. The 2002 eruption of Mount Etna has developed yet another facet on 21 November with the emission of a new lava flow from the still-active cone at 2750 m elevation on the upper southern flank of the volcano. This new flow is advancing more or less south and thus toward a much more vulnerable area. A report in the local newspaper "La Sicilia" states that the flow advanced about 1 km and is heading toward the area of the Rifugio Sapienza and the surrounding tourist facilities, which were seriously threatened and partially damaged during the 2001 eruption. Very bad weather is hampering observations, but it seems that explosive activity at the active cone is stronger on 21 November than on the day before.
November 2002 update.
flowing from the still-active cone at 2750 m elevation on the southern
flank of Mount Etna has reached a length of more than 4 km on 20
November, with two flow fronts advancing very slowly across lightly
forested terrain next to the Botanical Garden at about 2750 m elevation.
Explosive activity is continuing mainly from one vent in the summit
crater of the huge pyroclastic cone formed since 27 October, generating
alternating emissions of ash and Strombolian explosions. Though
continuing, the overall impression of the activity is that this
is not exceedingly strong, but phases of waning and waxing have
been observed at this cone repeatedly during the past two weeks.
November 2002 update.
eruption initiated on 27 October 2002 is continuing at 2750 m on
the southern flank, where a large pyroclastic cone continues to
grow and lava is flowing to the southwest; all eruptive activity
on the northeastern flank ended by 5 November. On 17 November, explosive
activity occurred from two distinct vents within the crater of the
pyroclastic cone on the upper southern flank, producing intermittent
fountains of incandescent bombs and ash that rose about 500 m above
the vent. Lava issued from a vent on the southern flank of this
cone, coinciding with the northern wall of a smaller crater active
during the first days of the eruption. This crater was filled to
the rim by lava at the beginning of the effusive activity on 13
November, and lava spilled over its southern rim to feed a flow
that had advanced below 1900 m elevation on the southwestern flank
of the volcano. On 17 November the flow front was still 1 km away
from the Botanical Garden near the Astrophysical Observatory (which
does not seem to be threatened at the moment).
The 2002 eruption of Mount Etna is now featured on more and more web sites. The two principal sources of information (updates, photographs, and other graphic material) are:
Like in 2001, Lisetta Giacomelli and Roberto Scandone of the University of Roma 3 have created an incredibly informative and well-illustrated web page, which unfortunately is only available in Italian:
Furthermore there are two web cams pointed on the southern flank of Etna, which can be accessed at the web site of:
Alain Melchior presents interesting digital models of the lava flows of the 2002 eruption and has numerous captures from Italian television news of the eruption
One could expect some high-quality photography of the eruption at "Stromboli On-Line", and Marco Fulle's photos do fulfill all expectations...
The same is true for Tom Pfeiffer's photos, which are among the most spectacular of the 2002 eruption so far available - Tom was lucky to be at Etna on the evening of 27 October and photograph the most spectacular phases of activity on the Northeast Rift:
This is a relatively poorly known site, created in 2000, which has photos and spectacular video clips of the 2002 eruption (and of the activity in 2000 and 2001 as well):
Another web site that has escaped attention thus far, but deserves to be visited (good photos and movie clips, including one of the spectacular explosive eruption at the Voragine on 22 July 1998):
Very spectacular photos of the still-erupting crater at 2750 m elevation on the southern flank (seen from the Torre del Filosofo area) plus a nice map of the upper southern flank of Etna are available on
No less spectacular, the view of the eruption from the International Space Station (NASA):
...and, of course, there are photos, updates and video clips at
Much information (in Italian) is offered by the Catania-based newspaper
Copyright © Boris Behncke, "Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of
Page set up on 27 May 1997, last modified on 29 November 2002