Friday, April 12, 2013

Mt. Etna Enters Eruption Phase

While Etna is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, it typically has short "paroxysms", or short lived explosions with lava effusion. Yesterday it entered into a Strombolian eruption phase which is sustained as of right now. A Strombolian eruption consists of explosive activity with lava fountaining. A Facebook statement from INVOLCAN says "The Director of the Division of INGV-Catania, Domenico Patané, confirmed that "this time is not a paroxysm, it is a real eruption. Already at the beginning of April it had given indications that something was changing and a few days ago we had a very long pre-eruptive activity, 08 April 2013, with explosions of ash that lasted until the evening of April 10, when it changed to the Strombolian explosions started already in the afternoon. During yesterday afternoon activity gradually increased to become almost continuous overnight, with strong explosions and emissions of two small rivers of lava from the edge of the crater, and the area southeast of the "saddle" between the two cones of the Southeast Crater. The last eruptive phase of this type, occurred between May 2008 and July 2009 at the Eastern base of the crater to the Northeast."

The volcano does not typically erupt with this sort of force. Typically it has effusive eruptions and can generate long lava flows, but occasionally it can put on a more dangerous eruption type. The best Enta webcam angle I could find can be found here. The refresh rate is slow, but the shot is very good.

Etna is one of the best monitored volcanoes on the planet, so typically seismologists and volcanologists know what to expect from the volcano, and can warn people not to climb the mountain, or to stay indoors when there is heavy ash emission. Eruptions are typically restricted to summit and flank cones, and there are very rarely any injuries or fatalities.

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