Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology

Etna Decade Volcano, Italy
Eruption update:
30 June - 1 July 2001
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28 June 2001

PAROXYSM AT THE SE CRATER ON 27-28 JUNE 2001: Press photo taken from southeast (Monte Zoccolaro?) early on the 28th showing Strombolian activity at the summit vent of the SE Crater and lava flows issuing from the "Levantino" (at right) and from one or more vents along the eruptive fissure on the NNE flank of the SE Crater cone. Photograph by Tony Gentile (Reuters)

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The Etna telecamera is maintained by the "Sistema Poseidon" (now part of the newly constituted Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia) 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 and ACCESS TO THE SUMMIT CRATERS IS FORBIDDEN. The regime of eruptive activity at the Southeast Crater has changed once more, and episodes of vigorous explosive and effusive activity might occur with relatively little warning. Guided excursions on the south flank that end at the Torre del Filosofo, at about 2900 m elevation, have resumed in mid-March, and on the north flank excursions arrive at 3100 m elevation, on the E side of the main summit cone. Tourists should make excursions only with the mountain guides and NEVER GO ALONE, even though this will not satisfy the wish to see what's going on at close range. 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 (phone: 095-914141), or (during the summer) at the hotel "Le Betulle" at Piano Provenzana, on the northern side (phone: 095-643430). There is now a new web site giving more information about guided excursions on Etna.

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13 June 2001

PAROXYSM AT THE SE CRATER ON 12-13 JUNE 2001: Time exposure of the erupting Southeast Crater (the twin-peaked cone in the right center) and its satellite vent "Levantino" (at lower left) as seen from north during the early morning of 13 June. A river of fluid lava is extending northward from the "Levantino", while Strombolian explosions eject glowing bombs at the summit vent of the SE Crater. Photo courtesy of Thorsten Boeckel. More photos of this event can be seen at the bottom of this page

23 May 2001

ON THE "LEVANTINO", 23 MAY 2001: Access to this vent was less dangerous when the activity was still continuous (with lava effusion from the "Levantino" and mild Strombolian activity from the summit vent of the SE Crater), although Boris Behncke's (left) gesture indicates that proceeding further might be unwise. Person at right is a member of the Open University Geological Society excursion group that visited Etna with Behncke in late-May. Lava spilling down the eastern flank of the "Levantino" is visible in the background. Photo by Chris Crivelli (OUGS)

The latest update is near the bottom of this page

30 June 2001 update. As expected, the Southeast Crater and its NNE vent, now unofficially named "Levantino", continued to produce eruptive episodes at intervals of 2-3 days, but it seems that these events have become progressively weaker in terms of explosivity. The following is a summary of eruptive activity at Etna's summit craters during the period 15-30 June, based on numerous sources of information. Giuseppe Scarpinati (Italian delegate of the Paris-based Association Volcanologique Européenne, or "L.A.V.E.") and Marco Neri (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Catania) are thanked for providing near real-time oral and written information, and the Stromboli On-line team, Charles Rivière and Thorsten Boeckel for posting information on their web sites. All times are local (GMT+2 h).
15 June eruptive episode. Weak Strombolian activity at the summit vent of the SE Crater was observed during the early morning, and lava began to issue from the "Levantino" later that morning. At about 1130 h, explosions at the summit vent increased in intensity, including minor sustained lava fountains between
1150 and 1230 h. Strong fountaining occurred at the same time at the "Levantino" which also emitted voluminous lava flows, and from other vents along the fissure which connects that vent with the summit vent. This fissure had not been active during previous eruptive episodes in June 2001. A tephra column rose from the SE Crater; ash fell on the SE flank of Etna. Toward the end of the paroxysmal phase, the summit vent produced very powerful and loud explosions, ejecting huge bombs; the booming sounds could be heard as far as Catania. During the late afternoon of the same day, vigorous ash emissions began at the NE Crater, producing a dense plume that was driven SSE by a strong wind. These emissions ceased after a few hours.
17 June eruptive episode. Effusive activity at the "Levantino" resumed during the morning and was soon accompanied by Strombolian bursts from the summit vent of the SE Crater. At about 1250 h the explosive activity increased, and the fissure between the summit vent and the "Levantino" reopened, producing explosions and lava flows. Lava fountains rose from the "Levantino" and in the uppermost portion of the eruptive fracture, immediately below the N lip of the summit vent, while the summit vent itself continued to produce violent, but discrete Strombolian explosions. A tall eruption plume formed above the summit vent, causing ash falls on the E side of Etna. Then, as explosive activity at the summit vent waned, the vents along the NNE fissure became more vigorous, until all activity ceased at about 1630 h. Two (or three) lava flows were emitted from the uppermost and lowermost vents of the eruptive fissure. This paroxysm was accompanied by vigorous ash emissions from the Bocca Nuova.
19 June eruptive episode. After two days and six hours of relative quiet, the "Levantino" and the summit vent of the SE Crater reactivated to give lava flows and Strombolian explosions, respectively, in the late afternoon of 19 June. By 2120 h, vigorous explosive activity occurred at the "Levantino", and sometime after 2200 h, lava began to issue from the uppermost vent on the eruptive fracture between the "Levantino" and the summit vent. By this time, continuous fountaining occurred at the earlier, while powerful Strombolian bursts occurred in rapid succession at the latter, grading into fountains 700-900 m high at about 2240 h. A heavy rain of scoriae and bombs fell in a wide radius around the SE Crater, extending as far as the Torre del Filosofo mountain hut to the S, and scoriae fell even at Pizzi Deneri, about 3 km to the NNE. Observation from the S revealed the formation of a small lava flow on the upper S flank of the SE Crater cone, possibly produced by the copious fallout from the lava fountain rather than by a true overflow or the opening of new vents (during the numerous paroxysms of the year 2000, eruptive activity had frequently occurred along a fissure on the S flank of the cone, but the notch in the S rim of the summit vent has progressively healed during the parxysms of June 2001). From 2330 h onward explosions at the summit vent became more and more infrequent but at the same time attained tremendous dimensions as huge bubbles of magma exploded, showering the entire cone of the crater with huge incandescent blobs. Explosions at the summit vent eventually ceased before midnight, and lava effusion ended shortly thereafter.
This eruptive episode had been preceded by ash emissions from the NE Crater on the previous day.
22 June eruptive episode. Lava extrusion from the "Levantino" was first observed on the late evening of 20 June, less than 24 hours after the previous paroxysm. However, the expected next paroxysm did not occur until two days after, and lava emission even ceased during the night of 21-22 June before resuming, more vigorously, during the morning of the 22th. The first clear signs of the impending paroxysm came at around 1430 h on that day when ash emissions began at the summit vent of the SE Crater. Strombolian bursts became visible at that vent at about 1730 h, and effusive activity at the "Levantino" increased, followed by the onset of explosions at the "Levantino" at 1820 h. At 1920 h, the "Levantino" became inactive, but activity at the summit vent increased notably, and at about 1945 h, the "Levantino" re-joined the party in a much more vigorous manner than before. The activity was vigorous at 2000 h, producing a tephra column 1-2 km high, and fountains from the summit vent rose 300-400 m high. Voluminous lava flows were emitted from the "Levantino" and from the uppermost vent of the eruptive fissure below the NNE rim of the SE Crater summit vent. Huge lava bombs were ejected from the summit vent and fell onto the slopes of the SE Crater cone; more intense tephra emission began at 2010 h, generating an eruption column 3 km high. At the same time activity at the "Levantino" climaxed with fountains and high lava effusion rates. Then, at around 2030 h, the activity rapidly diminished, and by 2140 h, all explosive activity was over.
24 June eruptive episode. On the early morning, lava began once more to issue from the "Levantino", signalling the beginning of the buildup for the 10th eruptive episode in this month. Lava effusion continued throughout the day; shortly before 1900 h vigorous (lithic) ash emissions began at the Northeast Crater, and at 2015 h the first Strombolian bursts were seen at the summit vent of the SE Crater. The effusion rate progressively increased at the "Levantino", which entered into explosive activity at about 2130 h; 30 minutes later the eruptive fissure between this vent and the summit vent opened along its full length. The summit vent produced the strongest activity at about 2230 h, but it seems that all of this consisted of closely-spaced Strombolian bursts rather than continuous, sustained lava fountaining. The volume of lava emitted from the "Levantino" was notable; the longest flows extended up to 3 km from the source. At 2315 h, the activity began to diminish visibly and ended at about 0050 h on 25 June.
This paroxysm occurred exactly one year after one of the most violent paroxysms at the SE Crater, which was the 64th in a series of 66 paroxysms during the year 2000.
27-28 June eruptive episode. Information for this paroxysm is less complete than for the previous ones, but it appears that this event was less powerful than its predecessors in terms of explosivity, and the volume of lava erupted from the "Levantino" and from at least one vent along the NNE fissure appeared smaller. Lava emission began sometime during the evening of 27 June at the "Levantino" and was followed by Strombolian activity at this vent and at the summit vent, with ejections up to 400 m high. No sustained lava fountains developed at any time during this paroxysm, which continued through the early morning of 28 June (see photo at top of this page). However, even after the end of explosive activity, lava continued to issue from the "Levantino"; this activity continued at least through the forenoon of 28 June. Since then, visual observations have been frequently hampered by bad weather.
Since the onset of episodic eruptive activity at the SE Crater in early June, repose intervals between eruptive episodes have been surprisingly regular (2-3 days). Based on this regularity, a new (the 11th) eruptive episode could be expected for today (30 June) or may have already occurred without being visible due to heavy cloud cover.

Photos of the Southeast Crater paroxysm
on 12-13 June 2001

All photos were taken by Thorsten Boeckel

13 June 2001 13 June 2001
13 June 2001 13 June 2001

Four views of various stages of the paroxysm during the early morning hours of 13 June. The view is from N. The "Levantino" vent is visible at left, producing low lava fountains and emitting very fluid lava flows. More vigorous explosive activity can be seen at the summit vent of the Southeast Crater at right

13 June 2001 13 June 2001
13 June 2001 13 June 2001

Dawn breaks on 13 June as the eruptive activity at the SE Crater and the "Levantino" continues at decreasing rate. The image at lower right shows a final pulse of lava emission from the "Levantino" while the summit vent is quiet, and the photographer (Thorsten Boeckel) in the foreground

1 July 2001 update. The 11th paroxysmal eruptive episode in less than one month at the SE Crater has apparently occurred on the morning of 30 June, but a dense veil of cloud has prevented visual observations of this event. It is thus not known whether this latest paroxysm was stronger or weaker than its predecessor, during the night of 27-28 June. The repose interval between these latest two eruptive episodes was about 30-36 hours and thus in the range of repose intervals typical of the current cycle of episodic activity at the SE Crater. Based on the striking regularity in the eruptive pattern seen in the past four weeks, another eruptive episode might be expected within the next 24-48 hours (that is, before noon on 3 July), and it is hoped that weather conditions will then be more favorable.

Photos of 23 May 2001, when the activity
at the Southeast Crater was still continuous

These photos were taken by Chris Crivelli
(Open University Geological Society, Mainland Europe)

23 May 2001 1 23 May 2001 2

1. This is how the active vent of the "Levantino" looked like back on 23 May when there was constant, high-rate but non-explosive lava emission at that vent. Approach to the vent was difficult but not too dangerous, and the view of the flowing lava was awesome
View into the steaming central pit of the Voragine on 23 May from the NW rim. This pit, formed during the violently explosive eruptive episode on 4 September 1999 has not changed significantly over the past year

23 May 2001

PAHOEHOE LAVA NEAR THE "LEVANTINO", 23 MAY 2001: Drained ephemeral vent and associated flow channel in the upper part of the lava field formed in the spring of 2001 near the "Levantino", surrounded by unusually smooth-surfaced pahoehoe lava (aa lavas are more typical of Etna). Person standing at left is Boris Behncke. Photo by Chris Crivelli (OUGS)

The recent eruptive activity at Etna's summit craters is featured on several web pages that contain additional information and highly spectacular images. Some of them (Poseidon/INGV, Charles Rivière and Stromboli On-line) have regular updates.

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

Alain Catté (Association Volcanologique Européenne) has photos of Etna
from many years

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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Page set up on 27 May 1997, last modified on 2 July 2001

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