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It was a night of fire! Yet yesterday it all seemed to be over. “She is giving us only a break” …. the volcanologists of Catania had said, however, describing the apparent state of calm of “Mamma Etna”, after an amazing and powerful eruption. Indeed, a paroxysm, as it is called scientifically. In the afternoon of February 16th, in fact, the volcano had emitted very high columns of ash and two long lava streams that had poured into the Valle del Bove. The phenomenon had lasted a few hours, from 4 to 6 pm and in the evening the lava even seemed to have died out.

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lava pouring in Valle del Bove

A new phase in the night

On the following 17th February the volcano did not show particular signs , except for some isolated explosion always from the South East crater – the absolute protagonist of these events. But if the people, still  sweeping ash and lapilli, believed that peace had returned, the sceintists of the Institute of Volcanology of Catania spoke of a “pause”.

Etna still had so much to say. And it demonstrated it in the night between 17th and 18th February, precisely between midnight and 3 am. Increased tremor, violent explosions with lava fountains that reached  700 meters height and two large streams of incandescent lava. The largest headed south-east, entering the Valle del Bove as usual. The other, a smaller one, instead headed south-west, stranded in a flat area at the foot of the Sella Crater.

More ash and lapilli

This phase also saw a new shower of large lapilli. The dense cloud of volcanic material rose for thousands

etna second eruption03
ash over the towns

of meters and this time spilled the contents on the eastern belt. Lapilli as large as 1 Euro coins covered the streets and roofs of Acireale, Aci Sant’Antonio, Giarre and Riposto . The cloud then moved towards the sea driven by the sirocco winds.

In the morning, among the clouds of steam that still surrounded the Valle del Bove, you could sense that the lava had dropped a lot inside the basin. In fact, a light column of smoke rose behind the ridge of Mt Zoccolaro. But only the careful inspections of the scientists will be able to verify the situation during the day. Will it all be over this time? It is only Etna that decides. And it will let us know in the next few hours. (photo by Grazia Musumeci)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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