Mt. Etna, the variety of eruptions

 24th. - 27th. November 2006, by Richard Roscoe




This report covers observations of eruptive activity at Etna on 24-26 Nov. 2006.  The period was selected according to the weather forecast, which proved accurate.  As a result visibility was generally good, although dense fog made the descent on the 26th rather difficult.


Eruptive activity from the SE crater commenced in the early morning of the 24th with consistent eruption of dark ash clouds.  As we approached the cable-car, we watched the thick ash clouds and were looking forward to approaching the crater, however on arrival at the top, we were told to immediately descend again due to the high level of activity.  After some discussion it was possible to observe the activity for an hour from the station.


In the afternoon, ash emission stopped and it was possible to observe extensive lava flow activity from 1120m on the Zafferana-Etna road and later from Monte Zoccolaro.  Emission of lava from the large fissure in the SE crater could be seen.




On the 25th, access to the top of the flow field descending into the Valle del Bove was possible and constant lava emission from the base of a large hornito could be observed.  No other flows were visible.  The flow was embedded in recently erupted lava deposits.  Hence in the areas with a good view of the lava flow, ground temperature was high.  This caused problems with several peoples shoe-soles and melted the feet off my tripod. In the early evening, I crossed the lava tunnel feeding the hornito and proceeded to the NW side thereof where the lava flow could be accessed better due to the wind conditions. 


 Emission of some spatter could be observed.  However, summit activity of the SE crater commenced again, starting with dark ash clouds and increasing to the level witnessed on the previous day. Consequently, I considered it prudent to return to the SE side of the flow to avoid getting cut off if flow activity increased to levels witnessed the previous day.  Unfortunately, the police were rounding up everyone at this time and I had to descend shortly afterwards.  The SE crater Paroxism was not photographed as most of the glow was obscured by the thick ash and it was already pitch-black.



On the 26th, we arrived at the top of the cable car at about 10.30 and could observe intense ash emission from a crater on the E flank slightly below the summit of SE crater.  Fortunately, access was still possible to the flow field and the hornito, which both showed no significant changes compared to the previous day.  The E flank crater was active for most of the day.  The hornito violently ejected incandescent material to a height of maybe 80m during the late afternoon but unfortunately stopped shortly before dark.  The E flank crater was still active when we left after onset of darkness.  Although some incandescent material could be seen, it was largely obscured by the ash emitted.


On the morning of the 27th loud explosions could be heard at the Rifugio Sapienza area although cloud cover obscured visibility.  Fortunately, due to a change in the wind direction, the airport reopened (it had been shut from 24-26th) and it was possible to return home as planned.  

Further reports


                  1.-11. November 2006                       11.- 16. September 2006                 

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 ©  2006 photos and text by R.. Roscoe, Video Boeckel, last modification 30.11.2006

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