Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology

Etna Decade Volcano, Italy
Eruption update:
2 June 2002
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May-November 1997


The Etna Live-cam of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia is back!
The new web cam is located in the village of Milo, on the E flank of the volcano, and the view is quite different from that of the previous live-cam, which was destroyed during the July-August 2001 eruption

Click here to go there (leave this site)
The ash emissions from the Bocca Nuova in these days are perfectly visible. Since the ash plumes are often drifting behind the Southeast Crater (the prominent cone to the left), this might create the impression that this crater is resuming its activity, but this is not the case. The broad crater to the right, which is emitting a whitish gas plume, is the Northeast Crater

Do you plan to visit Etna in the near future?
Check the
weather forecasts for the Etnean area and learn about how to prepare for a visit to the mountain

WARNING: Etna is currently showing only weak eruptive activity at the summit craters, but as always visits to the summit area expose escursionists to high risks, especially those risks related to unstable weather conditions. Although the winter in Sicily seems essentially over, heavy snow falls might still occur until early May, and unstable weather in general is among the main risks that visitors to the summit area have to face. Generally access to the summit craters without guides is prohibited. Guided excursions in jeeps to about 2700 m elevation are offered since March 2002 on the southern flank, and on the northern flank excursions are offered to about 2600 m (Piano delle Concazze).
The mountain guides and excursion services can be contacted at the cable car building (near the Rifugio Sapienza on the southern flank), telephone +39-095-914141; or at the Hotel Le Betulle (Piano Provenzana on the northern flank), telephone +39-095-643430. Further information (in Italian) is available on the Funivia dell'Etna web site.

The latest update is near the bottom of this page

2 June 2002 update. The past three weeks have been very quiet at Etna; most activity has consisted of gas emissions from three of the four summit craters (Northeast Crater, Voragine and Bocca Nuova), while fumaroles are emitting white vapor on the upper slopes of the Southeast Crater. Occasional emissions of brownish (probably lithic) ash have continued at fairly long intervals at the Northeast Crater and alternatingly from the two pits within the Bocca Nuova. Several small new fumaroles have formed on the lower southeastern flank of the Southeast Crater cone during the past week, which coincide with a fracture that was active during the July-August 2001 eruption. The appearance of these fumaroles may indicate that the crater is slowly heating up, but currently there is no sign of heightened activity in the immediate future.
During a visit to the summit craters on 30 May, few changes were noted that had occurred since the previous summit visit on 28 January; the most significant one was the partial collapse of the inner terrace within the northwestern pit of the Bocca Nuova. Lithic blocks that had created impact craters were noted on the southwestern rim of that crater; these may have been ejected by a (presumably phreatic) explosion which was seismically recorded on 6 May. Seismicity since then has been at low levels.
Extensive field observations of the eruptive vents, cones and lava flows of the July-August 2001 eruption were made on 29 and 30 May. Many of these features are now accessible via a network of well-established footpaths and thus have lost some of their pristine character. Yet they show a multitude of geologically interesting details, such as small vents which at depth are connected by fissures (as in the case of the small cone at 2700 m elevation), and beautiful lava tubes and channels (at the vents at 2900 m elevation). Still, the devastation caused by the activity of the large crater at 2570 m elevation (which has been variously named "Montagnola 2", "Cono del laghetto" and "Monte del Lago"; it has now been named "Monte Tazieff") during its week-long magmatic activity is evident as if it happened yesterday. The uppermost ski lift, which connected the ruin of the "Piccolo Rifugio" (buried under lava in late July 2001) and the Montagnola, bears numerous signs of the destructive power of the bombardment of huge bombs to which it was subjected.
The arrival station of the cable car on the western base of the Montagnola, which was set ablaze by a small branch of lava on 30 July, remained standing but its inside is a scene of utter devastation. Lava entered into the building in various places but stopped immediately thereafter, leaving the blazed interior to post-eruption visitors. Most haunting is a look into the bar which hosted hundreds of people every day; its floor is covered with more or less deformed or molten bottles and the remainders of coffee machines. Lava burst into the bar through three windows and stopped after oozing onto the floor, thus capturing the moment of destruction. Among the numerous sites where eruptions of Etna have caused damage or destruction, the cable car station and nearby ski lift are surely the most impressive. To this is added a kind of ironic touch, since the cable car and its arrival station had just been renovated (a solarium had been constructed in the station) and should have been reopened in late July 2001 - and the destructive lava flow just touched the station, enough to burn it, but it did not submerge it.
Meanwhile, plans are being made for the rebuilding of the destroyed portions of the cable car, and work has begun in earnest for a major renovation of the Torre del Filosofo mountain hut, which stands at 2900 m elevation, only 1 km from the Southeast Crater. Whether this is a wise initiative will be seen in the future, for the Southeast Crater will surely become active again in the future. For the moment, Etna is continuing its unquiet slumber, and nearly 10 months have passed since glowing lava was last seen at this volcano...

The July-August 2001 eruption and its precursors (the spectacular paroxysmal eruptive episodes at the Southeast Crater in June-July 2001) are featured on many web pages that contain additional information, highly spectacular images, and video clips. These will hopefully make up for the lack of photos on this page (I will post them as soon as I have my office computer back to working fully)

The July-August 2001 eruption - a special page on this web site, with an in-depth analysis of the events and related public reactions, mass media coverage, eruptive products, morphological changes, and a discussion of the recent paper in "Nature" about the changing behavior of Etna. Includes a map and press photos

View a streaming video clip with Boris Behncke interviewed by Dana Friesen of NBC channel on 2 August 2001 (courtesy of MSNBC). Windows Media Player is needed

The most instructive web page on the 2001 eruption so far (but in Italian only), created by Lisetta Giacomelli and Roberto Scandone

The "official" Etna 2001 eruption web site at the Catania section of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), contains a preliminary map of the lava flows

Photos of the eruption at the Roma section of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV)

Etna eruption 2001: a page produced by the GNV (National Group for Volcanology) and hosted by, with photos, maps and movie clips

"Emergenza Etna" - the Etna emergency, presented by the Italian Department of Civil Protection (includes simulations of the lava flows), a splendid web site maintained by Andrea Fiore, has impressive photos and videos of the eruption.
Watch how this site will develop in the near future!

Charles Rivière's Etna home page, with frequent updates, photos, video clips: Rivière was at Etna almost continuously during the 2001 eruption

Davide Corsaro's (of the Hotel Corsaro) "Etna FAQ", a nice and entertaining resource with many references to this Etna News page (grazie Davide!)

Tom Pfeiffer (University of Arhus, Denmark) has stunning photos of:
the precursory activity at the SE Crater in the spring of 2001 and of the July-August 2001 eruption (scroll down to "Etna photos")

Alain Catté (Association Volcanologique Européenne) is currently working on a page on the 2001 eruption (we went together to see the incredibly spectacular activity at the "Monte del Lago" (also called "cono del laghetto") one evening during the eruption)

André Laurenti (also of the Association Volcanologique Européenne) came with the same excursion as Alain Catté and has made his impressions and photos available in the "112-911 Magazine"

Thorsten Boeckel's web site (Germany) contains various pages with photos and video clips of the SE Crater activity in the spring of 2001 and of the July-August 2001 eruption, a German homepage about volcanoes made by my former colleagues (at the University of Bochum) Marc Szeglat and Daniela Szcze

Jean Louis Piette from Belgium, who visits Etna every year, and who always has something good to drink when we meet on the volcano, presents his impressions of the July-August 2001 eruption

Alain Melchior, also from Belgium and partner in crime of Jean-Louis Piette, has set up his Etna 2001 page, with nice 3D animations and digital elevation models of Etna and photos, video clips and other items are planned to appear on this site soon

Eurimage has spectacular satellite (Landsat, ERS) views of the July-August 2001 eruption

Photos taken during the eruption on 20 July 2001 at

A brief summary of the 2001 eruption (in Spanish), with a few photos (the second one shows the 4 September 1999 lava fountain at the Voragine, the third and seventh show the Piano del Lago cone, and the other photos are of the vents at 2950 m elevation), from the Instituto Andaluz de Geofísica (University of Granada, Spain)

"Etna 2000" is an Italian home page made by Simone Genovese, with general information on Etna, and has a special section on the 2001 eruption with photos and video clips

A small selection of photos of the 2001 eruption (mainly of the lava flow from the vents at 2100 m elevation), by Giovanni Grasso and Antonio Guarnera (at Acitrezza On-line)

Photos (2 galleries) of the 2001 eruption (including a spectacular aerial view) by Alexander Gerst (in German)

Photos and reports on a field trip with OUGS-ME (Open University Geological Society - Mainland Europe) in May 2001, with a visit to the erupting SE Crater

A brief report and nice photos of two paroxsms at the SE Crater (22 and 24 June 2001), from André Laurenti (112-911 Magazine)

The Catania-based newspaper "La Sicilia" has published numerous articles on the eruption. Here is a page dedicated to the eruption, with photos, video clips and links

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

Page set up on 27 May 1997, last modified on 2 June 2002

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