2 Etna paroxysms

Etna has been providing a show again yesterday 19.2. and early this morning 20.2. Etna seems to love night time action and most of us Europeans missed it, so I am trying to provide a short summary of the paroxysms. When I woke up and checked the cams around 7 a.m. on the 19th. , the image above was all I could grab.

The up-to-date tremor plot can be found at http://www.ct.ingv.it/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=201&lang=it
Only EBELZ shows acurate measurements. ECBNZ only hickuped a few times the last week and if it continues operating like lately, there will only be a black page soon.

The definition of paroxysm is a short outburst of action. All of Etna´s actions in the last 2 years were paroxysms and no longer lasting eruptions.

2 webcam screenshots (not from the same cam) taken on the 19th and the 20th. Notice that there is fresh black ash to the right on the second image. Were there some other tiny little vents active closeby to the main crater?

Here the best video, I have seen so far, by Klaus Dorschfeldt, it was first mentioned on Erik´s blog and also brought over to VC  by KarenZ.

Even a pyroclastic flow is to be seen. May I mention that I find the “erupting” logo on the lower right side a tiny little bit disturbing?

The paroxysm of 19.2. was worth being mentioned by CBS News.
Turi Caggegi has some new images from February 19 and 20 on Flickr.

Only a few articles can be found online:

This link leads to Etnaboris Flickr images but he always writes a long description to his images and so this provides a summary of the action of the last 2 days.
Claude Grandpey reported: http://volcans.blogs-de-voyage.fr/2013/02/20/etna-sicile-italie-306/
The Watchers have 2 webcam screenshots one of which is a screenshot of the thermal cam. When I checked that cam only an afterglow was visible.

Some usefull links for our readers to watch the action on Etna:
Etna webcams:

A Springer link about the enormous amount of CO2 emitted by Etna per year. 25 Mt/y !!!

Update: While I was writing this post ( I guess) Dr. Boris Behncke updated the IGNV site.

Here is the activity report for Etna and Stromboli for the 19th with many beautiful images,
And the same for the 20th which should be updated again soon as the article anounces.



80 thoughts on “2 Etna paroxysms

  1. Iceland: The earthquakes under Torfajokull continue. And also along same perpendicular line to the rifting direction. The area is volcanic, active and has had small eruptions in the last thousand years. They are Hawain type outside of the caldera, and mildly explosive and rhyolite lava inside the caldera, sometimes erupting nice obsidian rocks.

    • ‘Morning Irpsit ….. are you implying that you think some sort of event might be looming? What should we look for as further indicators?

    • Hi Irpsit! Also the quake at 9.14 a.m. was nearer Hekla – the volumetric strain for Hekla is rising sharply at the moment – showing a sharper rise than HEL or STO. BUR is not working. Anything happening there do you think?.

  2. Geolurking,m I really like your previous comment and I think it applies to most situations in life, eheh 🙂

    ” I claim to have learned something from every ship that I have been assigned to.

    1) – Crisis Management
    2) – It can get worse, (and Murphys law says that will happen sooner than later)
    3) – Contingency Planning. What are you going to do when it all goes bad? (because it will)
    4) – All the planning in the world is no good If the Universe is out to get you.

    And last, but not least (actually #4 but I had to tie 1,2,3 together nicely)

    Grace under Pressure. Think, then act.:”

  3. Sam: “Hekla or Katla”: statistically it should be Katla (Hekla erupts an average 30 years and Katla an average every 50 years) but volcanic patterns are erratic and might change dramatically!

    Looks like both of them changed pattern recently. Katla is now sleeping for almost 100 years and Hekla has been erupting every 10 years. Actually, both volcanoes seem to “cancel each other”, when one is very active the other goes asleep, and vice-versa. Same between Vatnajokull and Reykjanes or the group Hekla/Katla. They have been postulated to go in alternate cycles when one region is active the other asleep.

    Reykjanes is def asleep now. Vatnajokull seems highly active. And Hekla very active, while Katla seems to have its longest sleep in recorded history. I bet next eruption is under or around Vatnajokull (or Hekla)

    • Hi Spica, I’m pretty sure that is just where the flow of lava becomes visible to the camera. Higher up it is probably hidden by levees. But Etna is really up there with Iceland on the beauty scales. Fire and ice. Great stuff!

      • Thanks for that reassurance Bruce. I was worried how close it was getting to houses otherwise, but lava contained in a valley not so much problem.

        • Oh, it’s got a long way to go before it does that:

          She could be building up to a flank event, given the rapid frequency between paroxysms, then we could indeed get a threat to buildings but these events from the summit are too small in total volume and too far up the mountain to be a threat. They are the perfect sightseer’s eruption: good view, no one gets hurt. 😉

          • That’s not really darkness. It’s an effect that nearby city of Catania puts on to emphasis the beauty of the eruption. You get more tourists that way.

            (yeah, I’m joking)

  4. So a few weeks back I had mentioned that I wanted to map out large caldera boundaries on Google earth. I worked on the project, and I’m now done. I had posted this yesterday to start some discussion (although that seemed to fail miserably).

    All in all, I counted more than 125 Caldera volcanoes that are still likely to be active, and are large enough that they likely went VEI 7 or higher at some point.

    My biggest surprises? I hadn’t realized there were so many large caldera systems in Kamchatka. I knew about Kurile lake (a smaller part of the larger Pautchetzka caldera), but I hadn’t realized there were multiple massive caldera systems on the peninsula further north.

    I also think that by itself, this debunks the VEI 7 eruption once every 1000 years myth. While I didn’t include a set cutoff date, nearly all of these caldera eruptions occurred in the last 100,000 years. Take that 100,000 years and divide it by 125 Caldera forming eruptions, and you get an average of a VEI 7 eruption (or higher) every 800 years. The catch, is that there are a lot more than 125 caldera forming eruptions since many of these caldera systems have put out multiple VEI 7 events in the last 100,000 years, and it’s also quite likely that I missed a few massive caldera forming volcanoes in this list. This is just a very rough estimation, but I see it at least as decent evidence that large-scale eruptions actually happen more often than people think, and based off a very very very rough average, would occur closer to every 500-800 years instead of once every 1000.

    Is there any way I can load up the google earth doc for other people to use / look at? I simply took the GVP google earth volcano overlay, then added the caldera list to it.

    • Nice stats cbus. It ties in nicely with a post I want to do on the actual impact of large eruptions that is slowly germinating somewhere in my brain/computer. I have long suspected that 1. large eruptions are much more frequent than assumed and 2. they are not nearly so deadly as the scaremongers make out (unless you are unlikely enough to be downward / in the exclusion zone).

    • Funny enough, I spent a few hours last week looking around playing with the idea. I would be very interested to see what it looks like, and maybe this would be great for a post. If you would like, you could send this in and have it made into a blogpost for example.

      • Well, it’s best if you use google earth yourself. I saved the boundaries to “my places” so I think if I were to load it somewhere, people could download it and use it for themselves.

          • Just finished a pre-formatted WP post. I’ll email it with the title “Debunking Caldera Myths”

            I would still like to get the google earth plugin to be downloadable, but I’m not sure if I would have to delete out the GVP overlay.

          • I didn’t denote anything in the post I sent about the 1000 year rule. I don’t have enough hard evidence to really go out there and say something for sure without doing a ton of research.

        • Yeah,
          What the Linzervulcanfrau says; write up as a post…
          Geolurking may even leave a comment; don’t be shy 🙂

  5. Being that I’ve been away a considerable few months, I was wondering… there’s a distinct lack of Carl? Has he been around?

  6. Wednesday
    20.02.2013 17:34:36 63.672 -19.133 1.3 km 0.3 49.24 6.8 km ENE of Goðabunga

    It’s not much, but it’s the first ‘proper Katla’ quake I’ve seen in a while.

  7. True, but this usually is “Katla off” season. I say, do not disturp… but it probably does not matter, volcanoes have each their own way (and I totally disagree on some general analysis). Except Hekla, the clues are adding. One old saying was that Hekla and Etna were twins.

  8. Hekla strain:

    I do not know. I dont have the link to it at the moment. But Hekla often does things and then nothing happens!

    However let me remind everybody that these quakes are not Hekla, they are belonging to Torfajokull !

    With Hekla we have no way for monotoring. I wouldn’t be surprised with an eruption ot it within the next weeks. Anything happening will stay VEI3 or under, it will start explosive and then go efusive. But Hekla might have changed its pattern, since there were powerful earthquakes in 2000 and 2008 in South Iceland, and these might have affected its magmatic pathways, something of a first within the 10-20 year pattern since 1947.

    But these quakes might indicate magma accumulating beneath Torfajokull or near Vatnsfjoll, and as is it doing also under Bardarbunga and Hamarinn, this shows we are seeing a kind of crude “run-up” towards a Veidivotn eruption (at the “dead zone”). However, these eruptions only happen when there is a large rifting event there, which can still be 100 or 200 years from now! Veidivotn does not seem to be “due” for it within the next decades.

    Iceland is usually always like this: plenty of quakes under most of its volcanoes, but only an eruption on average every 2 to 5 years.

    In 1000 years, eruptions have occurrred most often under Grimsvotn (around 50 times), Hekla (around 20) and Katla (around 15). These 3 are the most erupting volcanoes of Iceland.

    They are followed by a few eruptions of Bardarbunga (around 10) and Reykjanes (also some 10 eruptions), also quite prolific volcanoes, currently dormant. But good to pay attention to them, as sometimes they register large swarms.

    They are followed by Krafla, Askja, Kverfjoll and Krisuvík (all with up to 10 small eruptions). Therefore these are also worth a watch.

    Oraefajokull erupted twice but both times very large. Eyjafjallajokull erupted 3 times, and the volcanoes around Langjokull twice. I do not worry much with these.

    • Initial thoughts on Etna. A while ago I postulated that the periodicity in Etna’s paroxysms was caused by a steady magma feed into a piston like chamber with a narrow opening to the surface (this piston might be nothing more than the conduit itself). In this case the mechanism would be that magma enters the piston, starts to degass due to drop in pressure and slowly fills the piston until the pressure and volume was high enough to clear out the flimsy plug left by the last event. The built-up pressure in the piston coupled with rising levels of exsolution of gases leads to the fountaining as the piston empties itself. Rinse and repeat.
      Now, if this is correct, why the sudden increase in the frequency of these paroxysms? Two possibilities come to mind: Faster rate of magma feed from below or a smaller piston.
      Working in favor of the latter, is that the volumes of these paroxysms seem to be smaller than the previous series (though I am flying on the seat of my pants on this one, just guessing from the videos/webcams). It is most likely a combination of both faster feed and a smaller piston volume in the upper conduit. If higher feed, we might see a flank eruption at some stage which Boris once said often follows such series of paroxysms.
      Just some random thoughts put here for discussion…

    • Yeah and the tremor is still rising!
      Right now it says 123 it was only 96 at the 19th.
      Which cam are you using Bruce… most of the ones i normally watch are rather foggy.

  9. Ok the tremor is down again. The event seems to be over.
    Bruce took a screenshot of the tremor being at 121 i saw it at 123 and when you check the graph now it shows that is was never as high as with the first paroxysm on the 19th. Can anyone explain this to me, this is not the first time i saw this behavior of the tremor graphs and i never understood it.

  10. Evidently, the idea behind the subplot of the movie is not such an outlandish idea. (picture is a link)


    The film tells the story of two ordinary people who take part in a top-secret military hibernation experiment, only to awaken 500 years in the future in a dystopian society full of extremely dumb people. Advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism have run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid society devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and coherent notions of justice and human rights.

  11. Pingback: Etna paroxysm of 2013-02-23 | volcanocafe

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