Etna 27.0ct.2002 - 1.Nov. 2002

Imposing impressions in the Southern part of Mt.Etna

 

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mr

A far distanced (800m) impact from the active crater of one meter and the new Cono de Laghetto on the right

Cheated by the volcano or the result of a failed time schedule of our vacation the new eruptions of Mt. Etna began exactly when we ( Ingo v. Kaenel and me) arrived back to Germany from a two week stay time at Stromboli and Etna. Informed by a phone call on Sunday the 27th of October by my brother he said to me ' hi welcome in Germany, Etna erupted this night'. Shocked and not amused I hurried paralysed three days at home until Martin Rietze and I decided heading again to Etna by car.

Executing this madness once more by hurrying down the 1673 km (24h) from Munich to Sicilia with a weather forecasts from cloudy to a rainy trend at the Etna region we, were highly surprised that the local weather seemed to be positive. During our stay time around Etna there was no wind, no high clouds, no snow and temperatures over the freezing point at the Refugio Torre del Filosofo (Td'F) in an altitude of 2930 m. This irregular weather conditions at Etna in November made it possible to get a phantastic view in and around a big big glowing bowl of an diameter of may 150m The position of this new cone was located 300-400 meters south from the refugio . (The sound-wave needs a little bit more than one second) 

tb

30th Nov: Impressed by the mighty cloud which ranged to Libya/Africa we reached the upper fields on friday noon. Ascending this mountain now the 20th time, and observing 8 days before the old landscape from the 14 month old Cono de Laghetto, we slowly comprehended what was really going on here the last days before.

                  tb

The Montagniola summit and the 'Newland'

tb 

          mr

First of Nov: The whole upper area from the Piccolo Refugio ( 2560m ) to the Td'F changed into an moon landscape with hundreds of little hills. No sharp rock, no old lava moraine was seen. It was like landing on an new planet. No foot steps in the new ash layer which had the thickness of may ten meters. We realised now being one of the first people exploring this new world.

People at the Sapienza told us that it was impossible in the first days to step on the upper area in case of the very violent eruption  

tb       

        mr

Evening mood under the big cone

In the following night we could get in position under the new crater group. Staying in a range of apprx. 600m from the main vent we could hear the falling bombs very distinctly. The whole slopes of  Monte Frumento Supino were treated very intensive by crashing lava bombs which reached the distance of more than 500 m.

         tb

               tb

Thousands of pyroclasts were covering the may 100 meter high crater wall. In this soft formed new landscape it is really hard to make good estimations about the dimension of the crater.  In comparision to this you can decide by yourself which fantastic height some fontains reached.  

The post adapted map of the new land


The new craters

1st Nov Counting three our four new cones * southern directed of the Td'F, ( the upper big was roaring and bumping without breaks ), we passed the new cracks ( 2600 m ).The position of the big crater was straight in line to the other the tree new smaller vents situated north of the Montagniola and the Cono de Laghetto. Map   *in this mess of new cones you may overlook one!

          tb

Advise : In this area the lava flow from the 26th to the 29th of October was flowing down and some fractures can may be the result of  inside crashing lava channel which was covered by more than 4  m of ash. But some fractures ( 50 cm ) were so far situated from the estimated sub terrain stiffed lava flow that this cracks could be the signs of a new  movement of the volcano body. The surface was cooking hot.

        tb

      tb

mr

Surrounding the new crater group we came nearer to our majesty submissively. The exposed situated top crater forced out material under loud roaring up to 600 m by phreatic explosions.

        tb

tb  tb  mr tb

 The 'hiding' Torre del Filosofo behind the new cone.

Every explosion was different and like god fingers the tall uprising expansions were pointing admonishly up in the sky. The whole cloud was such as black that the whole scenario remembered me to a mighty burning oil field.

   tb

A special sign of this explosions were that sometimes fast raising rocks left the vent faster as they could resist against the atmospheric pressure of the air. The result was that the rocks were falling asunder leaving a dense black arrow. During one explosion plenty little ejectas were catapulted so fast out of the crater that it was only possible to see them when they were exploding with a little white cloud. It's the same visual effect when a small fire cracker is blasting in the air.

 .        

Between the lava ejecta, white sedimentation rocks which came from a depth of may 3 km were forced up trough the black clouds about 800 m. They returned under a sharp whistling back to the ground with a speed of apprx. 350 km/h. By hitting the ground the noise of the smashing bombs was extremely loud and hollow. Some rocks intruded in the hard laplli layer more than one meter. Hundreds of these impacts were in front of us and some in a range of 20 meters.

In an observation distance of 400 meter it was so important to control all the times  the sky avoiding to get a victim of a stone accident. Hearing this unique sound in the closer environment above you let you really hope the best.....

 


 

 

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©2004 photos & text by Th. Boeckel (TB), © 2004 photos by M. Rietze (MR). last modification 6.03.2004


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