Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology

What's NEW
on this site?

The latest additions are at the top of the page

17 September 2004

A new page of the Etna photo gallery has been posted, which contains photographs of the reconstruction at the two tourist stations on the mountain. Some photographs of the new (September 2004) eruption of the volcano will be posted soon, although other web sites offer photographs of far better quality (see the former Etna News page for links). Due to this new eruption some modifications have been necessary in the Etna FAQ section. Recent changes in the policy regarding excursions to Etna are reported on the Etna excursions page.

8 September 2004

An intense summer term at the Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences (MCAS) has passed for me, followed by vacations and several performances at the International Geological Congress in Florence in August 2004, now lectures at the MCAS are re-starting, and thus little time is left for work on this site. Yet I have posted new information in the Etna references section and on my "Curriculum Vitae" page. And this is also the occasion to celebrate the 15th anniversary of my first visit to the volcanoes of Italy, which culminated with my first view of a great eruption at Etna, in the second half of September 1989.

30 May 2004

As the avalanche of scientific publications about the Italian volcanoes continues, I have updated the Stromboli and Vesuvio bibliographic pages. I have furthermore completely revamped the Salina home page, which was in a truly deplorable state; it now renders a much better impression of this charming island in the Aeolian archipelago.

23 April 2004

While working on different sections of this site, which will be revealed in the near future, I have added the latest scientific publications about Mount Etna in the Etna references section. Like in 2003, Etna continues to be the subject of numerous publications in international journals, more than any other volcano on Earth.

21 February 2004

Reporting on the current situation of Mount Etna on the Etna News page will be discontinued from now on. This is a difficult decision, but there are good reasons for it. In the case of renewed eruptive activity, reference will be made to other sources of up-to-date information (first among these, the Catania Section of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, which is responsible of monitoring the Sicilian volcanoes). In addition, future eruptive events will be described in a long-term perspective, similar to that given of the eruptions of 2001 and 2002-2003. Apart from this change, the site will continue to be alive and to serve as a base reference on volcanism in Italy, as can be seen from the latest additions and modifications to the site listed in the previous update (which did not get on-line until today). To these have to be added the new pages showing some of Etna's flank cones: Monte Barca, Monte Paparìa, Monte Ruvolo and Monte Arso. These pages are still lacking maps showing the locations of these cones.

1 February 2004

One month of the new year has passed calmly, giving me the opportunity to make substantial additions to this site. I have completed scanning through my 2003 photographs of Etna and set up two pages showing the photographs of September-October 2003 (start here). Then, there is a fully new page about the island of Panarea (one of the Aeolian Islands), where submarine fumarolic activity has shown a new increase a few days ago. On the occasion of the 30th birthday of the eruption of the Monti De Fiore, on the western flank of Etna, I have fully re-designed the page dedicated to this eruption and added many photographs showing the site of the eruption as it looks today. A further page about one of Etna's more than 300 flank cones and craters, Mompilieri (on the south flank) has been posted as a prototype of the pages describing the flank cones of Etna. Finally, new references have been added to the Etna bibliography, one of which is also included in my "Curriculum Vitae".

22 December 2003

Over the past weeks, I have slowly worked on the Etna photo galleries and finished a series of pages with descriptions and photos of the 2001 eruption. and another page with photographs of the mud volcanoes near Paternò, known as the "Salinelle", on the southern base of Etna. Yet another page giving a list and a full map of the more conspicuous of Etna's more than 300 flank craters has been created, which will contain links to more information and photos on individual cones; those links are not yet available. New publications about Mount Etna have been added to the Etna reference list.

7 November 2003

New publications about Mount Etna have been added to the Etna reference list, including one written by Neri, Acocella and Behncke for which the abstract is available on a new page.

13 October 2003

Finally, I have posted my "Curriculum Vitae" on this web site, which includes a list of publications. That list offers links to abstracts, and, in a few cases, pdf files of the full articles (where this is permitted by the editors of the respective scientific journal). I am trying to get the permission for the posting of more pdf files from the editors, but this will take time and may not be granted in all cases.
Interesting information has become available regarding new regulations for excursions on Etna. In fact, it will now be the Etna Natural Park to handle access regulations, and it seems that there will be much less restrictions than in the recent past. A new draft for the regulation of excursions and improvement of infrastructures, information services, and the network of hiking paths will be presented by the end of October 2003.

12 October 2003

The page containing reviews of major publications (mostly books) about Mount Etna, which to my serious embarrassment contained a hauntingly great number of typing errors, has been reviewed, corrected, and updated, including recently published books about Europe's and Italy's volcanoes that have significant sections on Etna.

11 October 2003

Yet another bibliographical entry has been added to the Etna reference list, this time it's an article about cycles and trends in the recent eruptive behavior of Mount Etna, written by Behncke and Neri. The eternally unfinished section dealing with magmatism and flank instability at Etna has been completed and thoroughly updated.

9 October 2003

More and updated information has been included on the page about magma storage at Etna, and the Etna reference list has been updated with new publications by myself and co-authors, and another interesting paper on magma reservoirs at Etna by Caracausi et al.

21 September 2003

The lists of historical eruptions of Mount Etna (before 1900 and since 1900) have been updated and revised, and a new paragraph about explosive flank eruptions has been added to the "Volcanic hazards at Mount Etna" page.

11 August 2003

Further work on the Etna photo gallery and in the "oldies but goldies" section (that is, the inactive central Italian volcanoes) gives you the opportunity to (a) see the photographs I took in 2002, before the new eruption began on 27 October of that year; (b) take a look at the photos of the most recent visit to Etna's northern flank in late July 2003; (c) to learn a bit about the northermost of the volcanoes in central Italy, Monte Amiata (which is also the second tallest of Italy's volcanoes, at 1738 m). The information on the Amiata page has not changed since first written in 1997 (nothing new has been published on that volcano), but there are a few more photos and maps, and links to some (non-volcanological) internet resources. Furthermore, a few photos of a much older volcanic center lying next to Monte Amiata, Radicofani, have been posted, but information about this small but interesting feature has yet to be written on that page (or on a separate page).
The 2002 Etna photographs were taken during five major excursions and two brief visits to the volcano over a ten-month period, less than I did at any other time since I live in Catania. Yet they are fine documents of places and features that have changed beyond recognition since then. Interestingly, I took some of the most significant photographs only a few days before the 2002-2003 eruption began, an eruption that would cancel many of the photographed features from the face of the planet. To be honest, I like these images better than those I took during the ensuing eruption.

8 August 2003

By this day maybe all of you will have noted that I have brought back the home page (or the couple of home pages, because there are actually two identical pages: index.html and STROMBOLI.html, the latter being the original entry page when this site was hosted at MTU) to its fairly simple layout, with relatively little text. When, sometime in the spring of 2002, I re-organized the home page, I did this in order to present it like a navigation center to the main sections of the site. At the top of the page there is now just a short bit of text leading to thematic pages of special interest in these days, and the "Did you know...?" section has been moved to the lower half of the page, below the main access menu.
The links that have vanished from the home page are mostly external and related to the recent end of effusive actvity at Stromboli (I have largely ignored this event since I had already been stressed out with Etna's 2002-2003 eruption, and of course, the Stromboli eruption began while I was abroad - but it will soon be described in a summary in the Stromboli section of this site). A significant internal link concerns the current regulations for excursions on Etna, which should be read by those persons who intend to visit the volcano in the near future.
Some revisions have been made to the page leading to other web sites that provide updates on volcanic activity worldwide, and to the page describing the 2002-2003 eruption of Etna. Some of the answers in the Etna FAQ section badly needed updating, which has been done, with the hope that no further updating will be necessary at least for a few months. The updated pages respond to the questions "When will Etna erupt again?" and "Can the next eruption be predicted or forecast?"
Early in 2000 I began to present many of the pages of this site in a new layout, which I applied to nearly all pages in the Etna and Stromboli sections, and in part in the Vesuvio and Vulcano sections. As you may have noted, I have recently made yet another, very minor change to this layout (the page contents once more occupy the full width of your browser window, not only 700 pixels). This layout has now been applied also to a page that has been one of the most obsolete on this site, which is the one about the Colli Albani (Alban Hills) volcanic complex, which lies immediately northwest of the city of Rome. This page had last been updated on 15 July 1996 (!), and in recent years the most recent part of the eruptive history of this fascinating volcanic center has been completely rewritten. The page fully represents the new standard which this site will hopefully have in the not to distant future: (a) photographs and maps have been newly scanned, with some images added that were previously not available; (b) the text gives a summary of the knowledge of the volcano based on recent studies, and of recent events such as seismicity and gas emissions; (c) a reference list is given at the end of the page, followed by a few links to web sites with further information on the Colli Albani.

5 August 2003

So far, the Etna photo gallery has grown in chronological order, starting from the first time I ever saw Etna back in 1989, and at the same time I added those photographs most recently taken, during the summer of 2003. Now I have made an exception to this, and added what I believe are the most meaningful photos taken by myself during the 2002-2003 eruption (which I enjoyed much less than all previous eruptive events on Etna, like many other people did). This latest addition also contains a few photos taken by Giuseppe "Pippo" Scarpinati, whose photographic skills are much superior to mine. The 2002-2003 eruption gallery is by no means a documentation of the eruption, but of the way I lived it, with all the limits that this had to it.
The other portion of this site that has seen more growth than most other sections is the Etna bibliography. This is far from complete and will always remain so, because there are so many publications dealing with this volcano that it is impossible to include them all. And that quantity is rapidly growing, since no other volcano on Earth is presently as much published (in scientific journals) as Etna - that is, of all volcanoes that are the subject of scientific publications, Etna is first in the number of newly issued articles.
Many editors of scientific journals have subscribed to a new convention, which attributes a so-called Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to each single on-line article. I have written a few words about how this DOI thing works in the introduction to the Etna bibliography,
and made DOIs, where available, clickable in the respective entries (most but not all of them work and actually bring you to the on-line version of the articles).

2 August 2003

Nothing new reported on this page for sixteen months, bad news. Okay, those sixteen months have not been an easy period and there's also been the complicated transfer of this site from the old server at Michigan Technologial University to the new one at, which fell right into the period of Etna's most recent eruption. For many months, the only news on this site were the Etna News and a few changes made necessary by this eruption on other pages. With the resumption of frequent hikes and excursions to Etna in the spring of 2003, I have obtained fresh photographic material, and thanks to a new computer and scanner at home, I am able now to present this material very shortly afterward. Furthermore, it has become possible to scan many of the slides taken during the past few years, photographs which have never appeared on this site before, and about once per week I dedicate a few hours to the scanning of those oldies but goldies and post them on the new Etna photo gallery. As of today, I have posted photos from my early visits to Etna (1989-1996) and the first year and half of my life in Catania (1997 through April 1998). They are shown in chronological order, allowing you to some degree to "follow" me through my, sometimes breathtaking, experiences with this unique volcano and gradually get acquainted with it.
The latest additions to the photo gallery are (a) some of my photos taken between January and April 1998, which include the first decent shots of lava flows I've been able to take (but much better ones are still to come), (b) a premiere on this site: photos of pahoehoe lava at Etna. Those of you who have seen the pahoehoe lava fields of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii, might feel pretty much unimpressed by this idea, but I'd say, take a look. Etna's pahoehoe is not the same stuff. It's a different landscape, different colors, a very different chemical and mineralogical composition, and there's ash of the latest eruption lying on it, not to speak of the vegetation that has in part conquered these lavas. To me it's artwork. My photos may not be all that artistic, but the subject definitely is.

15 April 2002

I have started re-organizing the Etna photo gallery, a page that has not been updated for three years... You will see that it now contains links to a few pages that have vanished in the depths of the archived Etna news, and which many of you may have never seen. More of those archived photos will be gradually posted on that page in the next few days.

April 2002

Wow, nothing new for one and a half years. Indeed, for a long time the only changes on this site were made on the Etna News page. It's been an extremely busy period since the last entry was made on this page (19 October 2000). I finished my PhD, then my wife became seriously ill and had to undergo surgery in the summer of 2001, just before Mount Etna produced its first flank eruption in a decade... so you are free to imagine what kind of period that was. The winter has passed with me and my colleagues writing publications, using the tremendous amount of information and data that Etna has provided during the past few years.
Now this site is becoming alive again. Some of you might have noted that recently some changes have indeed been made to various sections of the site. I have completely updated the Etna section, the only thing that remains to be done is to link some photo galleries to the more accessible parts of the site (like the one indicated in the 16 October 2000 "what's new" post below). Since I have again a working computer at home, I can dedicate more time to this site than during the past 18 months, so it is likely that it will be fully up-to-date by the time of its seventh birthday (8 May 2002) and full of cross-referencing which until now has been one of the major problems to visitors.
On this occasion I thank all the faithful visitors that keep checking "Italy's Volcanoes" - about 150,000 only during the last year - and all the people who have contributed in one way or another to the growth of this site. It's still enormous fun to work on the site, and to see that it is widely used as a vast resource of information on the volcanoes of this marvellous country. Stay tuned to learn more about these volcanoes - a lot of new studies have to be summarized on all of these volcanoes, and, of course, much of these are dedicated to Etna.

19 October 2000

Nine photos of the visit to Etna's summit craters (finally some red stuff again) are available on the current Etna News page. Looks like I'm gradually getting tuned with my new office scanner - these scans are from slides and I am quite satisfied with them.

16 October 2000

No updates have been posted here since almost four months (except occasional updates on the activity of Etna), because this has been an extremely busy summer, and I am working to finish my PhD at the end of this year. The situation is now getting worse because Etna has resumed its eruptive activity at the Bocca Nuova...
Just to give you some impressions of how Etna looks like in these days, I have posted a few new photos on a new page. Another long overdue post is the addition of my own photographs of the 24 June 2000 paroxysm at Etna's SE Crater, which can be found at the bottom of the 24 June 2000 page (this also contains movie clips and an MP3 file)
I do not promise to post frequent updates in the next few weeks for the reasons mentioned above, but if something really exciting happens at Etna, you will surely find something new here.

28 June 2000

Movie clips and a sound file (MP3) of the 24 June 2000 paroxysmal eruptive episode at Etna's SE Crater have been posted on a new page.
A series of 11 photos taken by Giuseppe Scarpinati during the 14 June 2000 paroxysmal eruptive episode at Etna's SE Crater has been posted on a new page.

23 June 2000

Two unique photos of Etna in eruption have been posted on the Etna News page. They show the poorly documented eruptive episode of 1 April 2000 at the SE Crater, and simultaneous eruptive activity at the NE Crater and the SE Crater on the early morning of 15 May.
Note that photos posted previously on the Etna News page are shifted into the archives after some time, because otherwise the Etna News page would grow to unsupportable dimensions. Photos added to the Etna news page on 4 June (see previous announcement) can be found on the "archived Etna news, 31 May to 4 June 2000". Photos posted on 18 May on the Etna News page are now on the
"archived Etna news, 17-20 May 2000", and so on.

4 June 2000

There are two things which are new on this site, and both are the result of numerous requests and recommendations.
The first one is that now there is an ad (a commercial banner) on two of the pages of the site, namely the title page and the
Etna News page. The placing of this ad has become necessary for two reasons: one is the simple need for a comprehensive monitoring of visitor statistics, the other is the even more basic need to receive a small amount of funding for this site, which has grown more and more extensive over the years. Work on the site keeps increasing, with Etna providing ever new events to be reported on, and many of the other pages on the site need to be updated and brought to the present standards of web page design. So I hope you will accept the presence of the banners on the bottom of the two mentioned pages; I have placed them as discretely as possible. (Note added in October 2003: the banners have been removed, since they did not help in receiving any great amount of money.)
The second new feature on this site is the Italian version of the
Etna News page. Italy is not a country where much English is spoken, and the region of Sicily is even less - blame the Italian educational system on it or the simple lack of will or interest in part of the Italian population, the result is that this site is much less known in Italy than anywhere else in the world. This is certainly a paradox, since it's all about Italian volcanoes, and Italians should be concerned in first place. They live around these volcanoes, and in spite of a life-long acquaintance with those peculiar mountains, many of them know surprisingly little about them. So now I wish to fill this gap at least in the case of the most frequently visited page of the site, which might yield important information to Italians intending to visit Etna or simply searching for information on what is going on at that volcano. (Note added in October 2003: work on the Italian Etna News page has been discontinued due to lack of time, and updates on the activity of the Italian volcanoes are provided in Italian language at the different web sites of the INGV.)
Why is there no Italian version of the entire site? Well, that would be a full time job, probably it would even require a web team rather than a single web master. It cannot be done at this moment simply because I don't have the time, the work on this site is done in my free time and of this I have ever less.

31 May 2000

A series of 11 photos taken by Giuseppe Scarpinati during the 23 May 2000 paroxysmal eruptive episode of the SE Crater on Etna has been posted on the Etna News page. Note that the photos added previously to the Etna news page have shifted onto the archived Etna news pages, indicated in the left column of the page (e.g. the photos posted on 18 May can be found on the archived page covering the period 17-20 May).
In the "Frequently Asked Questions about Etna" section, one important page has been updated: "Is it safe to climb to the summit of Etna?". The answer, in summary, is: NO, IT'S NOT SAFE AT ALL.
(Note added in October 2003: things have changed a lot at Etna's summit since the original update was made. Currently it is allowed to visit the summit craters in groups of up to 10 people accompanied by authorized guides, and the activity is at low levels. Things might evolve rapidly, though, so updating will be necessary frequently.)

Previous archived "What's New" page

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

Page set up in early 1996, last modified on 17 September 2004

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