Etna and Chaparrastique celebrating the end of the year.

Etna trekking webcam ,Screenshot by author.

Etna trekking webcam ,Screenshot by author.

Dr Boris Behnke gave us the honor of a visit and explained how Etna functions as a reply to Alyson and dfm.

Quote:” We know pretty well how magma moves below and into Etna. Usually when we get seismic signals at 15-25 km depth and a strong increase in soil CO2 emission at the base of Etna, we have to wait several weeks to months to see the magma arrive at the surface. Such deep earthquakes are in any case somewhere away from Etna, because the deepest earthquakes below Etna are not more than 30 km deep (below that is the partially molten Upper Mantle and there’s no seismic activity there) :-D

We had a very clear CO2 signal this summer, a few months before the current (possibly ongoing) series of paroxysms; the same sequence of events has happened also last fall-winter (before the paroxysms of February-April 2013) and on numerous earlier occasions. The latest CO2 increase ended early September 2013, and there has been none since, which means once the current series of paroxysms is over, we’ll have to wait until we get a new CO2 signal and then a few more weeks to months …

He advised to frequently check:

And shortly after this was said, Etna started showing some action.

Sissel took a screenshot!

Sissel took a screenshot!

The Villa Ducale link:

The paroxysm is still ongoing as i write this post but clouds moved in, so there is not much to be seen on the cams.

Etnatrekking webcam screenshot

Etnatrekking webcam screenshot

Update: Sissel just commented the following: “To schteve42 and all who like beautiful fireworks:
Boris Behncke made this beautiful video clip “Happy little bubble” yesterday evening, showing a big magma bubble bursting from the crater. Seen from the town of Zafferana Etnea:

Chaparrastique also known as Volcán de San Miguel as it is situated in the province San Miguel, started erupting for the first time after 37 years, although this number might not be correct as Wikipedia stated its last eruption happened in 2003 and in other sources i found that is a very active volcano, if not El Salvadors most active volcano. An ash column rose to a height of 5 km and 5000 people were asked to evacuate. No injuries were reported so far.

CNN article
Ministerio MARN, El Salvador, Volcanology:
Seismogram of the onset of eruption:–.2013122900.gif

A webcam should be here but is either not accessible at the moment or doesn´t exist anymore:

Also, Eric has an article on the eruption:

Washington VAAC report as of 23:41 UTC 29/12/2013: ash at FL220 and FL320
The news report as it appears on the BBC:

( These quotes were taken from comments by Luisport, KarenZ and Granya ) has some nice images taken while hiking/climbing the volcanoes summit.

UKViggen found some cool panoramas: ”

Stunning 360° panorama of Uzon caldera:
Takes a while to load, but worth it.
from the same folks who brought you the amazing Tolbachik panorama:
and the Grimsvotn 360°:
Lots of other Iceland views on the site.

No real news have been provided about El Hierro. Earthquake Report showed a satellite image.

Some regulars here are more worried about the grown lava dome on Sinabung then about the situation on El Hierro. Earthquake Report had an update dated 27.12.13 and there they linked a site with information by Bandan Geologi.

In Italy a swarm of earthquakes started, the strongest one was classified as a Mag. 5,2.

I decided to post this summary because its been 4 days since the last post, and quite some stuff happened. It is just a summary, not an eloquent post. I think 2 of the riddles have not been solved so far, but only Carl can solve this mystery.


84 thoughts on “Etna and Chaparrastique celebrating the end of the year.

    • VEI 3? Not yet. It could be a while before it reaches that, if ever.

      Based on VAAC reports, which tend to overestimate height in order to provide decent ash warnings with a bit of slop added for a safety margin, this is what I get.

      Also note that the reported cloud is detached from the edifice, meaning that the reports no longer reflect what the volcano is currently doing. That puts the plot well in excess of the ground truth. In all likelihood, this will barely be in the VEI-2 range, if it actually made it to that volume.

      The last data point where the cloud was near the area of the edifice is the 11.25 hour mark, which is shortly after detachment. (All points after 11.25 hours in the plot are highly suspect and likely wrong). That would put it below VEI-2 unless something else develops.

  1. Lots of competion! El Hierro in waiting, Etna and El Salvador erupting.

    Graph below might be nothing, but nearest Volcano to Húsbóndi Nunatak (hus SIL) is the Thórdarhyrna Volcano (on Geirvörtur, Háabunga, Grimsvötn Line): Imagine an nearly straight railway line extending from the Dead Zone up to Grimsvötn, via several old Galcial Nunataks that are old Volcanoes. But this is so all over Iceland. Volcanic rows after row.
    Unfortunately I do not have the time-table (said be published every 240 years, on average!) or if an train in really coming this year, but then its rather late, on average … This type of tremour has appeared several times over past several veeks and months, here and at other stations, including Hekla (fed and mjo). And this is thought (maybe) appear as the local system is pressurizing.

    • Almost forgot,
      there has been two more quakes near Grimsvötn. One is rather deep, and not far off HUS SIL
      and has been checked by IMO (“updates” to auto system usually appear round midday, each day)
      If swarms bega to appear, that might be precursor to trains are on their way 😉
      30.12.2013 07:26:07 64,336 -17,590 12,0 km 1,4 99,0 17,0 km VSV of Grímsfjall
      *if any place is most likely, in my mind, then thats it – and Hekla, of course*

    • It’s nice isn’t it 🙂 (linked in the post above as well)

      The Airpano imagery is amazing, and well worth the time it takes to download. Great cityscapes as well as natural features – but a warning, this site can be prove very, very distracting if you are supposed to be doing something else!

      For those with an interest in Iceland (and let’s face it, that’s everyone) here is a useful link to all the available panoramas:

      Click on the helicopter icons and there will be a number of frames appear – each frame is a separate panorama. Enjoy!

  2. For those who missed yesterdays Etna fireworks:

    Boris Behncke made this beautiful video clip “Happy little bubble” yesterday evening, showing a big magma bubble bursting from the crater. Seen from the town of Zafferana Etnea:

    And on our Facebook page you can also see stunning footage of the 21th paroxysm made by Turi Caggegi, Lillo Flamingo Beach (including Etna smoke ring, lit by erupting lava!), Massimo Lo Giudiceand and others:

        • GeoLurking = The Wikipedia entry on Deadpan humour is using him as the example.
          Thankfully I had just swallowed my milk before I hit this comment. You are really turning timeing of humour in comments into an artform :mrgreen:

          • Comes with practice. I could walk up to a wild arsed story that one sailor was telling another, and simply acknowledge the line of shit that one was putting out and it would escalate the story to an immense scale. It worked great for the SeaBat that some of the deck crew had caught, and it was quite handy in getting the midshipmen to double their efforts in getting the mast cranked down while we were going up the Channel from Charlestown to the weapons station. They were in a sheer panic trying to get the crank to engage.

            On the Blog, it’s not face to face… making it a lot easier since I don’t have to hide a grin.

            Sometimes you have to side with the ridiculous since the “mark” would prefer acknowledgment rather than listen to a counter opinion. The best ones play on an already present belief.

            In the case of my last Ops Boss, I just let him go. He was convinced that he knew it all, who was I to counter that? As long as he wasn’t going to hurt anyone I could care less how he made himself look to the Ward Room.

            If anyone here finds themselves in a department head sort of position, and there is a lesser ranked but highly experienced person there assisting you, ya might try not pissing them off. They will be more than happy to let you make a fool of yourself.

            Treat my people like shit and I’ll let you screw yourself. And laugh my ass off with my peers telling them about your idiocy.

  3. Interesting that the Hierro Dec 2013 swarm was accompanied by a different distribution of east-west motion compared with the 2012 swarm. The latter is plotted in para8 of my speculative post:
    This time we see uplift and northwards motion repeated ( except for south at Restinga). But in Dec2013 the El Pinar Frontera axis did not shift much E-W. However Sabinosa and stations out to the west of the island, including Julan, move much more pronouncedly westwards than previously. The westward motion appears to increase the futher from the El Pinar swarm, which is odd. It also raises the question of how much westward GPS displacement ocurred at the site of the mag 5?

    The extrapolated ‘focus’ identified by ‘Daniel’ in that plot for 2012 appears to have shifted eastwards to due south of Julan. Bearing in mind the huge depth of structure extending down to at least 30km ( Gorbarikov’s microseismic survey) I remain unconvinced that magma intrusions cause these motions, or indeed the eq swarms. But I can envisage magma movement following rock fracturing during such events. So could it be that tectonic forces cause the whole 30km+ deep edifice to rock as a single entity, the surrounding crust flexing?. Note that the Dec 2013 Pinar swarm was modest in total energy but produced large GPS motion. The swarm was immediately above older one of two major stacks, extending down to at least 30km. Imagine the Pinar stack lifting vertically by 80mm. and with a northward component. That geometry predicts a pivot for the stack south of the island and at kms depth. That deep structure is fascinating. How far beyond the aerial edifice does deep structure exist?- there’s no microseismic data beyond land. Could it extend out to that extrapolated focal point, the pivot? Or the pivot coud be virtual, with accumualtion of flexing of the crust surrounding Hierro providing a force that periodically is relieved by the stacks jumping upwards. Think of a trampoline with Hierro’s edifice at the centre, penerating the elastc membrane and the deep structure below pushed sideways by mantle drag. The membrane will distort and the edifice slowly tilts. Every few hundred years the tilt is relaxed accompanied by thousands of small eqs.

    And we should ask what forces generated the 30km deep stacks? I speculate we are seeing a layer of magma being added at present.- to the top of the stacks. Each time the whole edifice rocks in response to accumulated mantle drag ( see speculative post) the fracturing allows exisiting magma to penetrate and accumulate at 10-25km depths. No diapirs of fresh magma. It may be that subaerial eruptions are rare- the sedimentaries taking up the strain and not fracturing. In the absence of fresh magma, fresh heat and fresh gas the absence of a large eruption perhaps not unexpected. By this process the stacks grow at the top. The stacks are in effect top-down underplating, created by a magma infiltration into fractures generated by a rocking motion creacted by viscous drag from the mantle on the 30km+deep structure.
    Note: this is speculation by an amateur.

    • How is he getting the “extrapolated ‘focus’ “? Is he using the long axis of the hypocenter location error ellipse? If so, keep in mind that it is an unproven method. (I came up with the idea and think it is workable if you are lacking an actual focal mechanism. The caveat is that you have to remember that it could be fully incorrect.)

        • treating the island like a boat – or maybe a raft made out of polystyrene blocks floating on the mantle, current pushes on the keel, surface tension drags the other way tipping and rolling and spining all sort of makes sense to me, but who knows where the raft breaks up or lets small amounts of water/magma through the cracks between the blocks.

          • Neat analogy! – a boat with a 30km deep rocky keel, creaking as it shifts position.

            And the cracks in the rocky keel let a bit of gas creep towards the surface. In the conventional ‘fresh magma arriving’ situation I’d expect Facebooks posts from Hierro to be speaking loud about new fumaroles, sulphurous smells. But only during Bob’s eruption were smells reported. Where’s the gas?

            Stroncik’s paper suggests it takes magma 2days to 8 months to reach the surface from the mantle. If magma can rise that fast, how fast would its gas arrive? Again, wheres the gas??

            And what made that 30km deep keel???

            • The Island’s ejected mass and underplating… I imagine.

              Related, sort of. Southern California is made up of several crustal blocks. These block shift and rotate horizontally, as well as vertically. The transverse mountain ranges are regions where thrust quakes compress and push up the mountains. I imagine that something similar to that could affect volcanic islands as they experience differing driving forces at depth and at shallow regions.

              Not saying that’s how it works, but following that line of thought that sort of seems like a valid conclusion.

              Not a Geologist, Seismologist, Ornithologist, Gynecologist, or Entomologist.

            • The gases is what makes the magma move up. On the case of El hierro it took just a few days to go from the focus of activity to eruption, one to 2 km per day.
              If the fresh magma does not find a way to the surface, it goes around and it will begin to crystallize and degas (because gases can diffuse much faster than liquids).The main one speaking of smells was Matabosch but as he was not on the island…..I think there was one tv reporter who spoke of the gases.
              The main specialist for gases is NP

            • Nemesio Perez, Lurking personal friend 😉 . He’s a geochemist. I do not know for the gases, I think they keep it to themselves, but they published their Radon article recently. There was also antother publication about CO2 a few months back. I would like to find their article to see the experimental protocol.

  4. Askja, there have been several earthquakes slightly NE of the volcano. However, I don’t think we shall see anything happen in the volcano. Askja is a very interesting say the least.

    • Yes, interesting steady supply of small quakes but no great swarms since last year, most are so small they only are found manually by IMO and presented in next days update. I am not expecting anything special there. Last eruption (1961) was a small one, and there is no indicator for anything larger at present time.

      • Especially since the magma is rising under Herdubreid and not Askja, which is really weird since it should be impossible due to the local part of the honking MAR is running in between them…

      • I like how they said the 5.1 quake took place on the southern tip of El Hierro when it was NORTHWEST of the island.

        • It’s wishful thinking. The reference island for the original statement was likely La Palma. It’s the one that all the landslide loons are freakazoid over.

          Probably, an editor saw the reference island and corrected it to El Hierro and didn’t catch the requisite change in cardinal points that should have been made.

          I have got to find that formula that lets you take a 2D function and rotate it about an axis to calculate a 3D volume. I used it to determine the volume of an expanding point source wave front and the drop in energy density as it expanded.

          Ding! → Pappus’s centroid theorem

          Note: If you ever forget what it is called, look up the volume of a torus. The theorem figures heavily in one method of calculating it.

    • Like we say in french, “Mort de Rire”. Nearly all the titles are wrong. Hahaha. The number of quakes is wrong (more like 300-330). The underwater volcano could erupt, wrong (no one knows where) and Bob did erupt in 2011. Whoa. Brilliant !

      I particularly like this one “Vast quantities of magma also began bubbling into the sea off the port of La Restinga resulting in its 600 residents being evacuated.”

      and of course “La Palma – the most tectonically active of the Canary Islands – could trigger a mega-tsunami”

      and there again some confusion, “The last eruption in the Canary Islands as a whole took place on the island of La Palma in 1971.”. with a picture giving Bob’s location.

      I see the daily mail keeps to its lofty standard regarding the quality of information 😀

  5. Tomorrow there will be a New Years Eve post up where I will try to sum up what I think will happen during 2014…
    Yes, I will put on my steamdriven tinfoil hat full on and prognosticate things. Or? :mrgreen:

  6. the last day day of 2013, what a year it has been to all of you a Happy and Healthy New Year, looking in the future, volcanoes will keep us guessing mostly and hopefully enjoy them with not to many getting in the way of nature, she can be unforgiving as we all know to well. PROSIT

  7. OT: My mate ( Sankt Ananas 😉 ) will join a gig in memory of Hank Williams today, like some musicians have been doing for some years. Hank Williams died being driven around drunk ( too drunken to appear on stage as planned) at New Years Eve 1952, He was found dead on the backseat early morning january 1st. 1953. He was a genius with music, but had a problem with alcohol and his idol once stated… You got a million dollar talent but a one cent brain.

    Anyway, we will use a beamer and beam the sky ( stars) up onto the ceiling as they were during Hank Williams last hours. Anyone who wants info about the Hank William memorial can find it at

    I was asked to give some details on what is happening or better might be happening next year up above our heads. But not much is going to happen. No eclipses and i could not find any scenarios “the world will end” which should supposedly happen in 2014 ( Not) Just one thing came up.
    On January 4th Pluto will hide behind Jupiter and this gravitational effect will allow you to jump higher, some sites even claim, zero gravity for 5 minutes.
    Suuuuure…. If Pluto would be orbiting the earth in the same distance as the moon it would be M&M sized. A cute M&M maybe as it would be orbited by a tiny confetti also known as Charon and 4 more tiny dots. I am retty sure earth would not see tides, as we do, if Pluto would replace our moon.
    Juptier has 3 moons that are bigger than our own moon. Ganymede being even bigger than planet Mercury. Io and Europa slightly bigger than good old Earth Moon and Kalisto only slightly smaller. They do “hide” behind Jupiter quite frequently with no effect on earth at all. And hm, at the moment Jupiter resides in the constellation Gemini and Pluto ( the M&M in approximately 6 light hours distance!) is in Capricorn so how can it “hide” behind Jupiter.
    I will be happily blowing this hoax up today!!!

      • Don’t have a planetesimal, but I do have a piece of Glasgow Edinburgh… well, a piece of basalt from Glasgow. I keep it next to a spool of thread. (No particular reason)

        One day I will corner a grandkid and tell him about the volcano.

        • Hmmm, lived and worked in the ‘Dear Green Place’ (Glasgow) for over ten years and cannot recall any volcanics within the city itself. If I remember rightly, the city sits on downfaulted Carboniferous and Devonian sedimentary rocks overlain by glacial drift, most of which has been deposited as drumlins. A quick look at at the road pattern in the west of the city will reveal the shapes: the Uni is situated on the Park Drumlin. There are also a series of river terraces as you move away from the Clyde, some of which are pronounced. I remember Montrose Street by Strathclyde Uni: this was on one.
          As to volcanics there are a lot of Carboniferous volcanics in the Campsie Fells to the north of the city and here there are visible ‘traps’ in places – especially on the northern (Stirlingshire) side. I know there are numerous vents under the Campsies and, given the nature and scale of the horizontal ‘trap’ formations, I think this is a likely source location for your piece of basalt. I am not a geologist but I do know the area very well. I may have a copy of the Stirlingshire memoir somewhere and perhaps a solid geology map of the city and its surroundings but that will require digging in my loft (attic). Perhaps someone else here might have an idea of where your basalt is from in the Glasgow area: there are also Carboniferous volcanics on the horst to the south of the city but I know less about them and their chemical make-up although there are some pronounced whinstone (dolerite) dikes in the area so that too is a possibility.
          Another possibility it is is from ‘Auld Reekie’ (Edinburgh), which is not too far away and has plenty of basalt! Talking about segways that takes us neatly back to yesterday’s chat about gardy loo!

          PS: I have a piece of tephra from Etna that sits by my desk…….

            • Shivering? Is it that cold in Florida today, or have you caught a cold?
              In either of the two cases, think whisky. 🙂

            • I can’t, at least not until the driving is over.

              No.. no cold. (though I am a bit worried about that H1N1 that they say is lurking about out there). Just non standard temps for here. Nothing exciting either. Ya crawl out of a warm bed to let the dogs out and the cold damp air makes you want to go crawl back in next to that warm body you left laying there.

              In actuality, I prefer it this temperature. You can always add another layer if you are too cold. If you are too hot, once you get to skin, there is nothing left to take off.

            • Yeah I read that it is cold your end with more to come. Due to the current positioning of the jetstream the CONUS has deep cold and we in W Europe (and even E Europe) are basking in a constant westerley stream of warm(ish) air. However, the flip side of this is the wind – it has been very stormy as the seismos on the Canaries and Iceland can testify.
              Nice old volcanoes in Edinburgh – Castle Rock, Braid Hills, Blackford Hill and Arthur’s Seat. There are a number of other old volcanic neck structures in the Lothian area, including the Bass Rock, Traprain Law and Berwick Law. Auld Reekie is well worth a visit if you ever get across the pond…..

    • My friend Kinky Friedman was most likely one of the very last people to meet Hank. He usually comments that he looked tired, but otherwise fine. Somewhere from the diner where Kinky saw him and where he was declared dead he must have drunk a hell of a lot of alcohol.
      Kinky decided on that night that he too would become a country singer.
      Later in life he switched career and became a murder mystery writer, partially influnced in him believing that there might have been foul play involved in Hanks death.
      His even later career change into politics is though not induced by Hank, it was due to him sharing a cigarr fetish with his friend Bill Clinton.
      Hm, odd when I think of it, I am a friend of a friend to a US President. I think I need better friends :mrgreen:

      • “Hm, odd when I think of it, I am a friend of a friend to a US President. I think I need better friends”

        Heh… I just re-listened to that song and realized how happy I am to be here rather than shitfaced in a bar in Palma, pissed off that I’m not home for the holidays. It got a lot of play time in the bar, many of our sailors killed time trying to pick up the female sailors from the Shenandoah, a “Destroyer Tender” that we kept meeting up with for maintenance availabilities. They did the re-coring of my liquid to liquid heat exchanger, and did a top notch job at that. The hard part was getting it out of and back into my system. When I learned electronics, I never dreamed that part of it would involve doing a bit of plumbing work.

  8. It is of course sad news to end the year that Michael Schumacher, a 7 times Formula One Champion, is in critical condition after a nasty sounded accident whilst skiing in the Alps. He appears to be stabilising, which is good, but we know things can go either way with Brain damage etc. (I’m sure someone on here will be able to explain the things that can happen after a head injury).

    Get better soon!

    • Brains have inertia too. Even if the helmet held up to the impact, the brain has to decelerate also. A lot of trauma can occur when the brain smashes into the skull.

      Think of it like you are sitting in a car doing 40 kph that then whacks a wall. THE car stops, but you don’t. That’s why you have air bags and seatbelts. They are there to slow you down in a somewhat controlled manner and to give you something less hard to hit inside the car.

      I can’t go into the medical side of it… but those are some of the physics that are involved.

  9. Happy New Year everyone! I don’t comment very often but I check-in regularly to see what’s going on. Terrific work of all contributors to keep it alive. I find it very impressing that the quality of the articles is sometimes better than what I usually see from my students at university. 😉 Keep it up!

    • Thank you Dirk!
      We do our best to keep a high standard. It is nice to hear that our work is appreciated among our Lurkers. 🙂

  10. Gott Nytt År! -everybody and thank you all for the world-class articles you’re contributing to make VC the best laymen volcano site ever! Also special thanks to Carl and the all the Dragons for keeping VC a nice and “tidy” place to visit.


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