Lava bullets

Mt. Etna, eruption at Southeast Crater, Sept 06

by  S&W Braunsdorf


Since October 2004 it was silent at the Mt. Etna when in July and at the end of August a new eruption phase began. While we decided to reach the Etna in July, the first eruption already was gone after 5 days. May the second eruption should be more successful. In the morning of  the 14 September 2006 we started  through the nebulous conditions near the Rifugio Sapienza. The range of view was only  a few meters. At the funivia station the view up to the Montagnola was clear. With the offroad buses we were taken far up to the Torre del Filosofo, where dense fog expected us. When we reached the east flank of the SE-crater, a free view on the eruption was given. The eruption was invariably  under a strong activity. Already during the day, large lava balls were noticed by us which reached diameters far more then 2 m and brought apprx. 5 to 10 tons on the balance.


Sylke beside a splendour specimen of a giant lava bullet. A view behind the ball shows that it must have rolled over large distances. Thus no ejection from the crater, as you may assume.


The three smaller balls are located more closely. The lower ball left a clear trace in the volcanic ash by rolling down, while the middle ball probably jumped more over the areal.


On their way down the bullets were catapulted again and again like on a ski-jump. While breaking and dividing itself  into several parts the movement with an immense speed was straight toward to us .We noticed nearly too late that the direction of the lava bowl suddenly changes exactly on our location. Notice! Even on a relatively flat terrain the formed bowls can move still several hundred meters.



With a racing speed a further giant ball moves along on the lava stream from the July 2006 eruption again toward to us. Little later the ball rolled  further and stopped beside the old lava stream.



Norbert Fischer before the bullet monster

At the end the ball splitted into 2 halves and was glowing threateningly for hours. When we visited this fearsome object one day later this giant ball, still radiated perceptibly the closer environment. A photo of the same ball by the way is to be seen on the internet site of Charles Rivière. Charles is located in the middle of the ball.

Back to main report


Etna    Stromboli    Volcano world    Cinema

From Etna to Stromboli     Planets & Space

 ©  2006 photos and text by S&W Braunsdorf (sw), transl. Boeckel, last modification 1.10.2006

This private, non-commercial web site do not use cookies !