The location of Mt Etna – where exactly is Mt
Mt Etna is Europe’s highest and most active volcano. It is located
on the east coast of Sicily, towering 3340m over the city of
What plates are involved?
• The African (oceanic) plate is subducted under the Eurasian
(continental) plate. As well as producing Mt Etna, Vesuvius was also
formed, but it is part of a different volcanic arc.
What is located around Mt Etna?
• More than 25% of Sicily's population lives on
Etna's slopes. It is the main source of income
for the island both from:
• Agriculture (due to its rich volcanic soil) The
lowest parts of the mountain floor is fertile and
rich in vineyards, olive groves, citrus
plantations, and orchards
• And tourism – Home to the Piano Provenzano
ski resort (this was destroyed in the 2002
• There are towns and villages surrounding the
mountain, including Catania. In the past, the
Italian authorities have used
explosives, concrete dams, and ditches to
divert lava flows away from these settlements.
What type of volcano is it? The history of the
creation of Mt Etna – what has caused the
volcano to be created?
• Mt Etna is a composite
(stratovolcano), made up of layers of
ash and solidified lava.
• The volcano has more than one
active chamber, this has resulted in
many subsidiary cones (craters on
the side of the volcano).
• It has been growing for about
500,000 years and eruptions began
in 2001. Eruption styles include:
violent explosions and huge lava
• The volcanic summit was about 52
metres higher than it was in the
early 21st century.
What are the physical characteristics
of Mt Etna?
South East Crater
Dyke – exposed due to
Horseshoe shaped depression
– provides a channel for lava
Build up to eruption
• “Until the present eruption began, Mount Etna had been in a state of
more or less continuous activity from a small cone connected to the
central cone by a low pass. About one month before the eruption
began, the activity in this small cone, the north-east crater, started to
die down; and two weeks before the eruption a local guide noticed
that a small patch of snow at the southern foot of the central cone
was beginning to melt”
• “On 5th April the eruption began, and two fissures, 80-100m long
opened where the snow had been melting. The area below the main
cone of Etna is rather flat, having been formed over the past 300
years by lavas in-filling a depression caused by the collapse of the
central cone after the particularly violent eruption of 1696.”
• Gas soon built up cinder cones by throwing out molten rock. By the
16th April, the eruption showed signs of slowing down. It built up
again 22nd of April and the formation of the South Eastern crater
Formation of South-east crater
• The Southeast Crater seen from the air immediately after its
formation in spring 1971 (top) and in May 2008 (bottom).
• Since its formation in 1971, the crater has grown 300 m above its
original size of 2990m.
• Mount Etna erupts and the lava destroyed ski
slopes, cable car station and observatories.
• The latest addition to Etna’s summit crater family is the Southeast
Crater, which formed during a flank eruption in May 1971 at the
south-eastern base of the central summit cone as a sort of pressure
valve – while lava was emitted a few kilometres further downslope to
the northeast, it emitted vapour-rich ash clouds for a couple of
Nature of the event
• > The eruption started in 1991 on 14th December and lasted for 473
days which is the most volumous eruption from Etna in over 300
years (250 million m3)
• > The lava flowed down the south east flank of the volcano into the
Valle del Bove
• > The eruption had a low rate of lava emitted which posed very little
threat to human life
There were No deaths as a result of the eruption.
The lava destroyed the springs which provided the water supply to the town of
Zafferana with a population of 8,000 people.
Several people who lost homes and farm land in the Val del Bove blamed the
government for not acting soon enough.
In interviews made during the late 1990’s with people from the Zafferana
area, when asked about their fear of a future eruption, many of them expressed
that they had no fear because ‘when there will be a lava flow, it will be diverted
Impacts – Economic and
The total cost of the management and responses as well as insurance
claims for damage to property ran into millions of Lira
Vineyards and Chestnut orchards were destroyed
Immediate/short term responses
During 1992 the Italian authorities built an earth barrier over 400 metres long
and 20 metres high in order to stop the lava reaching the town of Zafferana – this
contained the lava for about a month before overflowing. 3 smaller
embankments were built after this.
The US marines then became involved in ‘Operation volcano buster’ in which
they used explosives to blast a hole in the lava tube and then used helicopters to
drop concrete blocks in the main lava flow in order to slow down the lava.
Finally, a diversion channel was dug and explosives were used to divert the lava
onto an adjacent flank of the volcano.
The overall outcome of these interventions resulted I the lava flow stopping 850
metres from Zafferana but some geologists argued that the eruption was ending
Long term responses
The Institute of volcanology in Sicily (INGV) has continued to improve methods of
monitoring since the 1992 eruption – b measuring radon gas to detect lava
movements within the volcano, using GPS to examine changes to the slope angle
of the volcano and using highly sensitive seismometers to measure minute
tremors which might indicate lava being forced into the volcano.
The responses involved many different organisations including the police, fire
brigade, the civil defence department, the local
council, geologists, volcanologists, the Italian army, Italian Red Cross and the US
Effects of this eruption
• The eruption completely destroyed the tourist station at Piano
Provenzana and part of the tourist station at Rifugio Sapieza, located
on the south side of the volcano. It took the lava 2 weeks to reach the
tourist centre of Rifugio Sapienza.
• Damns of soil and volcanic rock were put up to protect the tourist
base at Rifugio Sapienza and helped to divert the flow.
• There were losses in agriculture and tourism because many people
stayed away due to safety concerns, the Italian government pledged
immediate financial assistance of more than $8m and tax breaks for
• Footage from the eruptions was recorded by
• Lucasfilm and integrated into the landscape of the
• planet Mustafar in the 2005 film Star Wars Episode
• III: Revenge of the Sith.
An eruption on the morning of 13 May 2008, immediately to the east of Etna's summit craters was accompanied by
more than 200 earthquakes and significant ground deformation in the summit area.
The eruption continued at a slowly for 417 days, until 6 July 2009, making this the longest flank eruption of Etna since
the 1991–1993 eruption that lasted 473 days.
Lava flows streched 6.5 km during the first few days of this eruption but thereafter stagnated at much minor distances
from the vents; during the last months of the eruption lava rarely advanced more than 1 km downslope.
On 4 September 2007 an episode of lava fountaining occurred from the new vent on the east side of the Crater
This produced a plume of ash which fell over the east flank of the volcano.
A lava flow travelled about 4.5 km (2.8 mi) into the uninhabited Valle del Bove.
This eruption was visible far into the plains of Sicily, ending the following morning between the hours of 5 to 7 am local
-Orange groves and vine yards were wiped out in Zafferanna – affecting the local
-Roads became covered in ash so it was hard to access anywhere that had been
-Ski areas were ruined – this had a strong impact on the masses of tourism that
Mt Etna brings to Sicily.
-Animals were killed and farm areas were destroyed and covered in ash.
-The airport was forced to close due to ash on the runway – again affecting
On 4 September 2007 a spectacular episode of lava fountaining occurred from the new vent on the east
side of the Southeast Crater, also producing a plume of ash and scoriae which fell over the east flank of
the volcano. A lava flow travelled about 4.5 km (2.8 mi) into the uninhabited Valle del Bove. This eruption
was visible far into the plains of Sicily, ending the following morning between the hours of 5 to 7 am local
time. Catania-Fontanarossa Airport shut down operations during the night for safety precautions.
An eruption on the morning of 13 May 2008, immediately to the east of Etna's summit craters was
accompanied by a swarm of more than 200 earthquakes and significant ground deformation in the
summit area. The eruption continued at a slowly diminishing rate for 417 days, until 6 July 2009, making
this the longest flank eruption of Etna since the 1991–1993 eruption that lasted 473 days. Lava flows
advanced 6.5 km during the first few days of this eruption but thereafter stagnated at much minor
distances from the vents; during the last months of the eruption lava rarely advanced more than 1 km
Farm land is ruined by the volcanic eruption, thus reducing the biodiversity of plants and animals
occupying the natural landscape surround Mount Etna.
• An eruption on the morning of
13th May 2008 on the east of
etnas summit craters, was
accompanied by more than
200 earthquakes and
significant deformation of the
ground in the summit area.
• The eruption continued at a
slowly diminishing rate for 417
days which carried on to 6th
July 2009. This was the longest
eruption of Etna since 19911993 eruption that lasted 473
• An ash eruption occurred at the summit of Mt Etna
on 8th April 2010, the eruption occurred at the lower
east flank of the south-east crater. Following the
eruption there was a series of earthquakes at the
Pernicana fault on the 2nd April. This was the first
time in six years that earthquakes occurred in this
location on Mt Etna.
• The largest earthquake was magnitude 4.2. ground
cracking occurred and Mareneve road, which links
the town of Linguaglossa to the tourist area of Piano
Provenzana, was fractured in two locations.
• The earthquake was focused at a depth of 1km and
surface fractures occurred over a distance of 1km.
• On the evening of 11th January 2011 an increase in volcanic tremor was recorded at Mt Etna
volcano. Seismic activity reached a peak at 07:00 hr on 12th January when the source moved
from north of NE crater to the SE crater.
• About 21:00 hr, lava overflowed the eastern rim of SE crater, and fed a flow that moved toward
the western wall of the Valle del Bove.
• Lava fountains occurred at SE crater.
• The eruption consisted of a sustained lava fountain, lava flow, and an ash column reaching several
kilometres high. The lava fountain lasted 42 minutes from 22:48-23:30 hr on 12th January and
reached a height of 300-500 m. The lava fountain became pulsating after this time and reached a
height of 100-200 m until 0:55 hr on the morning of 13th January. Ash fall was reported on the
south flank of Mt Etna.
• A lava flow descended the western slope of the Valle del Bove in three branches and reached the
base after midnight. The longest flow surrounded the northern side of Monte Centenari, 4.2 km
from the vent. On the 13th January ash emissions were caused by a partial collapse within the
cone and eruptive activity at Mt Etna's SE crater.
• Effects included the airport had to be closed
• Eruptions occurred at 3 craters at Mt Etna
volcano in February 2013.
• Five paroxysms (sudden outburst of
activity) at new southeast crater over
past week. On 27th February Strombolian
(low level eruption) eruptions and small
lava fountains were observed at Bocca
• Magmatic activity has occurred at
Voragine for the first time since 1999.
Renewed eruptions on October 26 2013
occurred at new southeast crater and
Responses to the
Eruptions of Mt Etna
By paula and abi
• The government planned a disaster response in advance of the eruption in order to
save the lives of people living near the danger zone.
Aerial photographs were taken to map geographical features of the Volcano
The government was looking for flank eruptions, rather than a summit
eruption, which are known to cause considerably more damage.
The rumblings and sounds were closely monitored to help predict the eruption.
Ground temperature measurements were made. A rise in temperature could indicate
a location of a build-up of magma below the central crater.
• There were orderly evacuations where necessary.
• Mobile aid was available and good there was good communication.
• INGV (the institute of the volcanology) in Sicily had continued to
improve methods and monitoring since 1992 eruption. They
measured raidon gas to detect lava movements.
• They used a GPS to examine changes in the slow angle in the
• They used seismometers to measure minute tremors which might
indicate lava being forced into the volcano
• Organisations such as the police and fire brigade and Red Cross
came to help and assist the situation
During 1992 the Italian authorities built a barrier over 400 meters long
and 20m high to stop the lava reaching zafferana. This contains the lava
for about a month before overflowing. 3 smaller embankments were
The US marines used explosives to blast a hole in the lava tube and
then used helicopters to drop concrete blocks into the main lava flow
to slow down the lava. And divert it.
A diversion channel was also dug to divert the lava
The lava flow stopped by 850 meters from Zafferana
Decision to shut airport was on 29th July
Rebuilding damaged buildings
Scientists improve monitoring of volcano
People moved out of the area
More planning of emergency services and
Villagers in Nicolosi prayed to reduce impact of
Use tourism to generate money and income
from the area
US Army helicopters dropped 2 tonne concrete
blocks to stop lava flow
Italian government gave tax breaks to help
villagers get through the crisis
Earth dams were built to redirect lava flow
500kg mines exploded to divert lava
Italian government gave £5.6 million of aid
• People were evacuated from the dangerous areas surrounding the volcano
• The government declared a state of emergency on the eastern side of Sicily
• A ship equipped with medical equipment near Catania
• Additionally, emergency workers dug channels into the Earth in an attempt
to divert the northern flow away from the town of Liguaglossa.
• Schools in the surrounding towns had to be shut down as a safety
• Civil protection officials in Catania surveyed the volcano from a helicopter;
however the airport in Catania had to be closed for 4 days due to ash on
the runways and smoke in the air.
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