The eruption on Saint Lucy’s Night started as a surprise, for many people who were looking at it from home. It was not a surprise for the “insiders”. The experts volcanologists in fact had been monitoring the tremors since afternoon of December 13th. As the clouds opened, at 11:30 pm, the whole Eastern Sicily could admire the fire show from the SEC (South East Crater).

Explosions of Saint Lucy’s Night

Mount Etna wanted to celebrate the “night of the light”dedicated to the Sicilian saint, Lucy. So it

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the explosions

lit up the sky for over one hour. The explosions started at 11:30 pm and went on till about 1 am. High lava fountains, a big ash cloud heading south with the wind accompanied the lava flow coming out of the crater.

It was almost dawn when a second series of explosions completed the phenomenon, at least for the moment. It gave more energy to the lava flow of the early night. As soon as the sun has risen, you could see the result of the eruption, above. South East Crater will never be the same again. The power of the volcano changed its structure, while its shape had already changed weeks ago.

The data of the eruption

The experts of the Institute of Volcanology of Catania explain more precisely the events that took place on the night of 13th December. The paroxysm started from the so-called “Sella vent”, or “Sella crater”, that is the cone of scoria that had formed between the SEC and the New SEC. The small crater had grown considerably in recent months and for some time it had already produced small explosions.

The pressure of the eruption literally ripped it open and together with it the south-western flank of the SEC collapsed, thus releasing the lava contained in it. “The lava flow split into two branches” writes the Catanese volcanologist dr. Boris Behncke. “One branch went south-east towards Torre del

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lava flow

Filosofo, the other took the direction of Mount Frumento Supino, westward”. In addition to the lava flow, two pyroclastic flows were generated when the side of the crater collapsed.

On the morning of December 14th, the explosive activity appeared much diminished, as well as the energy  that feeds the lava flow. However, tremor and infrasonic measurements remain fluctuating, which could indicate a resumption of activity in the coming days. We are waiting to understand how the situation will evolve.

Show in Saint Lucy’s Night

The paroxysm of Saint Lucy  has awakened a large part of the district of Catania and the neighboring areas. Many photographs and videos arrived on the social media, from every side of the volcano. The contrast between the night sky, the white of the snow and the lava that sparkled on it gave a unique spectacle to the inhabitants of the foothills.

But – clouds permitting – the eruption was also visible from inner Sicily and from the sea. The only bad thing? The curfew imposed by the authorities due to the Covid emergency, which prohibits staying out of the house after 10pm. So many people were able to admire the paroxysm only from the window, balcony or block’s terrace! (photos  by Grazia Musumeci)


Autore: Grazia Musumeci


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